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As Part Of Vegas, Golden Knights Part Of Healing Process

Several players will visit with victims and first responders in coming days

by Gary Lawless @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

George McPhee isn't one for hollow proclamations. His words are well considered, delivered with meaning and impact. He turned to a colleague on Tuesday and stated: "We're going to move heaven and earth to help these people and to help this community heal."

And then he began putting his organization to work on the streets of Las Vegas. Players meeting first responders, visiting blood banks and holding hands with family members of victims.

Sports is entertainment and a distraction. But teams can give communities the opportunity to unite and celebrate resilience. To spark and kindle hope.

The Vegas Golden Knights have yet to play a regular season game in the NHL. They will on Friday. What they took part in on Tuesday will forever be more meaningful in the city of Las Vegas.

RELATED: Golden Knights partner with NHL to donate $300,000 to victims

Answers and solutions to the problems which plague our society and lead to the atrocities such as the mass shooting in Las Vegas are hard to come by right now. They won't come from a hockey team. But this city and this world can't quit. We have to pick ourselves up and move forward. We need hope and leaders and positive images. The blood and the bullets can't be forgotten. They won't be.

 

Video: Gallant spoke at City National Arena on Tuesday

 

Vegas, however, needs to keep living. To step forward. The expression, "every challenge brings a blessing," might bring little comfort to those affected and may ring trite in these early days. But light must be sought. Healing must begin and people must come together over this tragedy.

McPhee asked his players in a team meeting on Tuesday morning if they would help. If they would wade into the community and offer comfort.

 

Video: Luca Sbisa speaks after practice on Tuesday

 

"It's not something we have to do. It's something we want to do," said defensemen Nate Schmidt. "We haven't been here long but this is our town now. We're part of the fabric here now. And we want to help. Whatever we can do, it's small in comparison to the first responders and the people who helped each other on the scene, we want to do it. If we can provide a distraction and some hope - that's what we want to do."

Before end of day Tuesday almost every Golden Knights player had stepped into the community. All will have done so before sundown on Wednesday.

 

Video: Deryk Engelland speaks on moving forward

 

"I'm trying to put myself in their shoes. To think about running into the gunfire and not out of it," said defensemen Jon Merrill, as he walked into police headquarters on Tuesday afternoon. "A lot of police are getting a bad rap these days. These people were heroes on Sunday. It takes courage to shield someone. To put your body in the line of fire to try and help someone you don't know. They were selfless. The least I can do is thank them."

Las Vegas has one of the largest and busiest convention centers in the world. It opened its doors to families of victims on Monday. Donations, so overwhelming that many are now being redirected to Puerto Rico and Houston where hurricane survivors remain in need, have been collected and stored at the massive meeting place.

 

Video: Jason Garrison on being part of Las Vegas

 

"Las Vegas is a big city but a small town," Hugh Sinnock, a vice president with the convention authority, told the 15 Golden Knights who had some to offer whatever they could to victims' family members. "People here care. Our hotels have opened their doors and offered free rooms to these families. No one is sleeping on the convention floor. They're being fed and housed and cared for. I'm not surprised. People think of the Strip when they think of Vegas. But this is a city inhabited by good people. Good people that have good hearts."

Families struck by Sunday's shootings continue to learn more about the condition of their children, spouses, siblings and parents. On Tuesday, members of the Golden Knights literally put their arms around these people.

 

Video: Neal speaks about being part of the Vegas community

 

Deryk Engelland has made Las Vegas his offseason home for a number of years and now he's a member of the Golden Knights. This is truly his home.

"This town is made of good people. Look at the blood drive where they've had to turn people away. Think of the people on Sunday who lied on top of others to shield them from bullets. People running in instead of running out. People helping others. It shows how close this city is and how resilient these people are. It's going to be a long process but we're going to come back from this."

 

Video: Bellemare speaks in the aftermath of Sunday

 

The Golden Knights will play thousands of hockey games in this city. Maybe they'll even hold a parade on the Strip someday.

But they started something more important on Tuesday. They held hands with their brothers and sisters. They offered hope. They recognized true heroes. They offered friendship. In good times and bad. They became part of this city.

In sports, they say the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the one on the back. On Tuesday, the Golden Knights showed they know the one in front of their nickname stands above all.

Vegas United, indeed.

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