Las Vegas unites over hockey team after tragedy

LAS VEGAS — It seems everywhere you look in Las Vegas this week, there are signs, banners and flags waving in support of the city’s hockey team.

And while it might drive visiting Caps fans a little nuts, many who call Vegas home see it as a sign of rebirth.

It was Oct. 1, 2017, that a gunman took aim at a concert festival from a high-rise hotel. When it was finally over, he had claimed the lives of 58 people and injured scores of others.

Not surprisingly, a dark cloud settled over Las Vegas, and as people who call it home wondered if that cloud would ever lift, they got at least a partial answer from the city’s hockey team, the Golden Knights.

“It’s been tremendous, absolutely tremendous,” Vegas resident Brian Wolfe, who knew one of the victims, told me at T-Mobile Arena. “We all mourned their deaths, and all the injured, and the team stepped up and went to all the blood drives and they had public service commercials, and we all fell in love with the team.”

“We all supported them as much as they supported us,” he added.

Fellow Las Vegan and University of Maryland grad Rachel Engster echoed those sentiments.

“You can feel the family that’s here,” she said while standing in a lower-level concourse at the arena. “The team did a great job, not only honoring the first responders and continuing to do that, but also the families themselves, retiring the number 58 jersey. It’s really served as a center of healing for the community.”

And the love Las Vegas fans have returned to the team shows no sign of weakening.

“It’s a place you can come and feel safe together and also feel like you’re part of the same team,” Engster said.

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