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The Golden Knights’ legacy: Stitching a city together

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Lady Liberty is wearing her jersey. Thousands came for the team send-off. The Golden Knights logo graces locals, buildings, bars, and billboards. But underneath all the excitement for our inaugural NHL season, you sense something more subtle is changing the dynamic in this city of transplants.

Just go to the Arsenal at City National Arena, the store at the team’s training facility and office, to buy all things Golden Knights. There, I met Alec Resh, doing some shopping, who told me what this team means to him.

“For me, everything. I'm glad I'm not a California NHL hockey fan anymore. I'm a Las Vegas fan,” Resh says.

RELATED | Fans gather in Summerlin to send off Golden Knights to Los Angeles for Game 3

Besides the sellouts and the screaming, this team is changing allegiances in a city where so many of us came from someplace else.

Alec came here from California. He's going to Los Angeles for game four, where a Golden Knights win would sweep the series over the Kings four-and-oh.

“Yeah, I was a Kings fan. I have a Jonathan Quick jersey and I'm never gonna wear it ever again,” Resh told me, joining a buddy doing some last-minute shopping. He has high hopes and big plans for LA’s Staples Center.

“We’re gonna buy a broom and we’re gonna attach a Nevada State flag and hopefully we can find a flag for the Golden Knights,” he says.

Speaking of the Kings: here, on this Monday, when the team's away and the ice is quiet, I run into 18 year NHL veteran Bernie Nicholls, who lives here part-time. He played for the Kings for 9 years, but even he's in awe of what our team and our city have achieved.

“The crowd's been great. I've been to some games here. The arena's amazing. The team is doing great so it's just amazing for the city,” Nicholls told me. He played for the Kings from 1981 to 1990, his longest stretch with one team in his NHL career. “Obviously playing for LA as long as I did I have some good friends there – always root for them, too.”

Nicholls’ advice: the Kings have been oh-and-three before and have come back to win it all. But we digress.

They will write stories about our team and the city it lifted on its shoulders after the worst shooting in American history.

Las Vegas is now looking forward, and so are Tom and Esther Nygren. They moved here three years ago from Houston.

“The month we got here, February 2015, they started taking deposits for season ticket members. I think we were pretty much first in line,” Tom told me as he and Esther were doing some shopping. She was on the hunt for more t-shirts and jerseys. She already has 18.

“I’m gonna have a jersey customized to just about every player,” Esther says.

Tom has followed the New York Rangers for 60 years.

“Got here, got the tickets, got excited about it and now the Rangers don't matter anymore,” he says.

We're guessing there are more Toms out there. And so, as Lady Liberty waits for her team to come home, so does this city, as its smells victory.


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