Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant and the franchise made sure the focus Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena was honoring the victims of the horrific mass shooting near Mandalay Bay, instead of just the city’s home opener of their NHL inaugural season.
In a pregame ceremony, the organization paid tribute to the 58 victims of the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting and first responders. Gallant joined The Jim Rome Show on Thursday and said he prepared for the emotions of the night, but the events were just too overwhelming to do so.
“Once you seen the responders and some of the victims’ families come out there, it was real tough and emotional,” Gallant said on CBS Sports Radio. “We got through that and it was a great ceremony. I thought one of our captains Deryk (Engelland) had a speech to the fans and the first responders, and it was an unbelievable speech, so he did a great job with that. So it was a real good night.”
The Golden Knights beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-2, but Gallant said none of that mattered on Tuesday.
“That game, it wasn’t about winning the game,” Gallant said. “It was about remembering and honoring the victims, recognizing the police and the first responders. That was the biggest thing for us and the game went perfect. But it wasn’t nothing about the game for us that night.”
Vegas is off to a fast start, leading the Pacific Division at 3-0. But Gallant knows there will be bumps and bruises with his expansion club.
“Obviously the first game in Dallas, our goal tender stole that game for us. He made 45 saves and he was outstanding and that’s what (Marc-Andre) Fleury can do for you,” Gallant said. “But our team has really come together and they’re working hard and they’re competing and playing for jobs every night. So we’re happy with the start. I mean we’re a better team than what some people thought we were going to be.
“But there’s going to be some ups and down. We just want to get better every day, and hopefully keep working hard.”