It can be a gamble to create an expansion team in a pro sports league, but it's paid off for the Vegas Golden Knights.
In its first year with the National Hockey League, the Knights aren't just good. They're one of the best teams on ice. That's despite their first game coming just days after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
So the bond between Las Vegas and the Golden Knights formed through grief, as well as the joy of winning games. They're in Vegas, tonight, playing the Kings for the playoffs.
Ed Graney from the Las Vegas Review-Journal joined Take Two to share more of their story.
How the Golden Knights got so good, so fast
No one thought this would happen in terms of how well they played in the division, but I do know the league did not want to give Las Vegas a team and have them be just absolutely awful. So they helped them a lot through the exposure of more players in the pool this time.
And I think George McPhee, their GM who ran the Washington Capitals for almost 20 years, knows what he's doing.
How the Knights responded to the Las Vegas shooting
A few days after the shooting, those guys were in hospitals first. They were at blood banks first. They were mourning with those who lost loved ones.
They did an incredible job – guys who knew nothing about Vegas and had just really arrived as a team here – of integrating themselves into that community right away after the tragedy.
So when the opening night came, first responders were taken out to the ice by each player, the names of the 58 dead were emblazoned on ice and there was a 58-second countdown. Then Deryk Engelland, the only player with Las Vegas ties and who lives here during the off season, gave a speech.
That brought this team into a realm of this city that no one thought possible.
No one is saying that winning hasn't helped. It has. But it was this perfect storm of a horrible, horrible tragedy, along with this new team arriving here and responding to these people in a way no one could've predicted.
How Las Vegas feels about its future as a major sports town once the Raiders move there
No matter what, the Golden Knights are always going to have a really special hold on these people's hearts here because of October.
And I think the Raiders will be more loved because it's the NFL and it's a big-time team.
But I can't see anyone coming in here in the future and taking over the hearts of Las Vegas like the Golden Knights have.
This interview has been edited for clarity.