The unseen spirit of Vegas means the city will get back on its feet

The Golden Knights' Nate Schmidt said it felt like the air had been sucked out of the city after the shootings. Doug Kranz/Icon Sportswire

LAS VEGAS -- We weren't hockey players on Tuesday.

After practice two days after the tragic shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a bunch of Vegas Golden Knights teammates loaded into SUVs, and we went into our community. Guys met with first responders, stopped at a police station and visited with people who were first on the scene.

We just wanted to say thank you.

At the convention center, people were gathered to find out whether their loved ones were alive. I can't describe the heavy atmosphere of that place. Sometimes when you're full of excitement, you're at a loss for words -- you can't describe how you feel. This was probably the first time I've been at a loss for words on the other side of the spectrum. The victims, these were all people who were just enjoying a night out on the town, and the unthinkable happened. Some families were waiting to hear news. Others were beginning the grieving process. We met one man who had lost a brother and another who had lost a friend. You don't even know what to say. You offer up your condolences, but for these people, this is a fresh wound. It was a really tough day. It was probably one of the most difficult things I've ever experienced.

Monday was a pretty gloomy day. A cloud was over the city. The air was sucked out of the city. But on Tuesday, it felt like the city was getting back on its feet. You saw people at the grocery store. At the convention center, there were boxes and boxes of supplies. Too many. The guy I talked to said he couldn't take donations anymore, and they'd have to donate the extra supplies to local charities.

At the end of the day, we stopped at the blood drive. We got to talk to some of the people donating blood and volunteering. One lady I talked to, she was from Georgia, she was just here to visit, she was a nurse and said, "I'm just going to go to the local blood bank, extend my stay and start helping out." That's incredible. She was putting her life on pause because people needed her help. There were so many people in line at the blood drive that they gave numbers out and said they probably wouldn't get to everyone.

People stayed anyway.

One of the big things I took away from the day was that support system. This is why this city can get back on its feet.

But that glimmer of hope will be something people can call their own here in Vegas. You hear about it more and more. When you say you're from Las Vegas, people say, "Oh, how's the Strip?" But when you talk to people from Vegas, they'll tell you there's a lot more to this city and a lot more to the fabric, that there's a lot of pride in this town.

On Tuesday, we were part of that fabric. Vegas has been so good to us for the first couple weeks that we've been here. The moral support and the welcome and how excited people are to see us in town, it has been incredible. This is a part of who we are now, and we are a part of this. It's not like a situation where you hear about it on the news and send your thoughts and prayers. The actions of the people in this city -- whether it's us coming out or people at the blood drive where they had to turn people away because there were too many volunteers -- are what make Vegas the city that it is.

Do you know what is the beauty of sports? It lets people step outside their daily routine, their daily stresses -- or in this case, their tragedy -- and lets them be normal again. When it comes to the home opener on Oct. 10, it's going to be a bittersweet night. We will have first responders and people affected by this out with us. We will continue to do that as the year goes on. That will always be a reminder of what this city has gone through.

Now, there's a team to go along with it. And it's an honor to be part of the new fabric sewn onto the quilt that is this city.