Words could never be enough to describe how much you came to mean to the city of Las Vegas. While it was known that you would be the face of the Vegas Golden Knights as they took to the ice for that inaugural season, the depth of your presence was not yet understood.
You’ve brought the city a Conference Championship, a Vezina, and the Jennings Trophy with Robin Lehner, but above all, you brought a light to a city full of them.
October 1st, 2017. This was the first time I had the privilege to be seated in T-Mobile Arena to watch a Golden Knights game. Just a few rows back from the glass, sitting behind the net, in section 11, row C, I had my first experience watching you in person. We all knew you to be one of the best goaltenders in the league. However, I didn’t realize just how fun it would be to watch you, specifically, play live. The Golden Knights were so much fun to watch, and it was just the preseason.
I have to be honest and admit I did not have the highest of hopes for the team as the game started. A decent season that could show people hockey could work in Vegas was all I really wanted. Though the Sharks ended up taking the victory 5-3, you and the guys made me a believer in the group we’d come to know as the Golden Misfits.
I left that game elated. There was hockey in Vegas, and the world was finally going to see it. The last preseason game was over. The next time the Golden Knights would make the news, it would be because of the first game of what was to be a legendary inaugural season.
But then, the unthinkable happened. Vegas had just a couple of hours to soak in the excitement of what was to come before tragedy struck. 59 lives lost and more than 400 injured. I remember leaving the strip that night to head back home and seeing emergency vehicles flying the other way down the 95. I remember the person I was with getting call after call. People were making sure we had left the strip and were not still in the area. The entire city fell into a collective feeling of despair while also displaying more strength than I could ever have imagined.
While the entire team became a beacon of light for the city, you became its very soul. Your positivity and attitude kept people in good spirits. I found myself among many who waited every game to see you smile after a great save or a fantastic play by a teammate. With your help, Vegas felt like it had come alive again.
When you got injured in the second home game of the season, the city felt it. While Subban, Dansk, Lagace, and even Ferguson did an outstanding job filling in, it seemed the entirety of Las Vegas was waiting for your return. It was another thing for everybody to rally together over.
You inspired an entire city of children to try their hand at being a goaltender. Your personality reassured parents that you were a great role model for their young ones. Fans were able to joke around with you.
As the seasons seemed to fly by, the city became more and more enamored by you, just as you seemed to make the desert your home.
Every relationship has highs and lows, but I hope you look back on your time here and remember how the city grew with you over the last four seasons. You’ve left an impression on the city, and we will never really be ready to see you go.
Now, our city is hurting for an entirely different reason. While I wish you all the best with Chicago, if that is what you decide to do, I also am disappointed with the situation. No matter what, Vegas will always be here to welcome you home with open arms.
All of this to say, thank you, Flower. We will miss seeing you on the ice in gold, but you will always be golden.
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