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Golden Knights helping each other feel at home

Players share advice on getting families settled with training camp opening Thursday

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

SUMMERLIN, Nevada -- Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Luca Sbisa sees similarities between being on an NHL expansion team and playing in the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

Sbisa, born in Italy and raised in Switzerland, likens the Golden Knights to Team Europe, a group of players pulled from European countries other than Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Russia. Though those players were largely unfamiliar with one another at the start of the tournament, which was held last September, Team Europe reached the final, losing to Team Canada.

 

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"Team Europe was a bunch of leftovers, players who got tossed into this big team," Sbisa said Thursday. "No one really knew each other and no one really gave us too much credit or believed in us, [but] doubted us.

"We had nothing to lose. We went out and had fun and did something really special. It's quite the similar situation here -- a lot of guys that don't know each other, joining a new team, going through a different experience."

Of course, there is a difference between playing in a short tournament and uprooting a family to play for an expansion team. Sbisa played with the Vancouver Canucks the past three seasons and lives in Newport Beach, Calif., in the summer (he spent five seasons with the Anaheim Ducks earlier in his career).

Thursday was his first day on the ice at the Golden Knights practice facility, in an informal session with his new teammates. Rookies reported to training camp Thursday, and the Golden Knights' main camp opens on Sept. 14.

For Sbisa, practicing was a welcome relief from the chore of moving. He drove a U-Haul to Las Vegas, then flew back to California to get his wife, Lauren, and their 3-month-old son, Nolan. They drove back to Las Vegas on Wednesday night so Nolan could sleep during the drive, and didn't get in until after midnight.

"I came to the rink quickly, went straight to IKEA, straight to Costco, straight here (to practice) and now I have trucks dropping off furniture," Sbisa said, smiling. "It's going to be a long day. I'd rather get it done quickly and then I can focus on hockey. … You talk to the guy next to you because you need advice. You need to help each other out."

Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore hasn't needed any housing or apartment advice. He is living in a hotel to start, not taking anything for granted.

"I'm waiting to see how camp goes," he said.

Video: How can Vegas do in their first season?

The one-stop resource for all things Las Vegas has been Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland, who has lived in the area during the offseason for 14 years. Engelland and Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury were teammates on the Pittsburgh Penguins for five seasons from 2009-14.

"Deryk was a big help for me when I started to look around," said Fleury, who ended up buying the house of former NHL defenseman Sheldon Souray. "He put me in touch with the right people and told me about neighborhoods."

Engelland has been doing his best to assist with recommendations.

"Babysitters, schools, that kind of thing," Engelland said. "Whatever we can do to help. To make the transition as smooth as possible."

He understood Sbisa's comparison to the Team Europe experience.

"You can definitely put it like that," Engelland said. "Most of the time you have four or five guys maybe that are new to the team. It's easy to get them acclimated to everything. Here you're lucky if you've played with one or two guys on the team.

"The quicker we can get tight in the locker room and get that chemistry on the ice, the better off we will be."

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