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Engelland assures crowd 'We are Vegas Strong' in powerful speech

Golden Knights defenseman speaks of his adopted city in moving ceremony

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- He stood with a microphone in one hand and had his glove on his other hand holding a hockey stick in the middle of the ice at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland will assure you that he is considerably more comfortable with the stick, not the microphone. He said he has probably never spoken to more than "20 guys at once."

But Las Vegas is his adopted city, and he met his wife Melissa here. The Golden Knights are his team, this was their first home game and they became the first expansion team in NHL history to start 3-0-0 with a 5-2 victory against the Arizona Coyotes.

 

[RELATED: Celebration of heroes, hockey helps Las Vegas heal after tragedy | Golden Knights' home opener seen as 'hockey therapy'Golden Knights defeat Coyotes to win first home game]

 

Engelland delivered a short and powerful speech in an emotional ceremony honoring first responders and victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1.

"Like all of you, I'm proud to call Las Vegas home," Engelland said to an announced crowd of 18,191. "I met my wife here. Our kids were born here. I know how special this city is. To all the brave first responders that have worked tirelessly and courageously through this whole tragedy, we thank you.

"To the families and friends of the victims, we'll do everything we can to help you and our city heal.

"We are Vegas Strong." 

Video: Engelland gives rousing speech to hometown fans

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said Engelland's words gave him goose bumps. Owner Bill Foley said in an interview after the first period that Engelland's speech was unbelievable. 

"You know he was very nervous, and he looked like he was calm, cool and collected," Foley said. "And then he scored a goal."

Yes, a goal.

Engelland doesn't score many of them. In fact, he had four last season with the Calgary Flames and 22 in 469 NHL games before this season, before he became a Golden Knight. Set up by forward Brendan Leipsic, Engelland one-timed a shot from from above the right circle, taking advantage of a double screen in front of Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta. His goal made it 2-0 at 4:18 of the first period.

"I'll take them when I get it," Engelland said.

Video: ARI@VGK: Engelland hammers one-timer past Raanta

He spoke about the emotions of the night and being involved in the ceremony with the first responders.

"To see them out there and all they've been through the past week, it was a little nerve-wracking to speak in front of that many people," Engelland said. "But the response from the crowd was phenomenal. It was the least we could do for those people that went through that.

"We want to get every win we can for the city and the people that were involved. When you get texts from the fire department saying the spirits are lifting around the department, it's crazy."

Engelland said his wife had a hand in the speech.

"We've been working on it for a few days," he said. "We tried to keep it short and to the point."

Fleury said he was glad they had a chance to pay tribute.

"It was a little tough," Fleury said. "Just thinking about everything that happened that night. … Deryk's talk gave me some goose bumps. I know how much he loves this place, how much he loves the city."

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