LAS VEGAS – Memories are everywhere before a Vegas Golden Knights game. These "Vegas Strong" t-shirts and signs. These hockey jerseys, whose nameplates and numbers are personalized in memory of this wildly tragic day on October 1, 201
When Golden Knights fan Joseph Bruno sees these memories in the T-Mobile Arena, he smiles
"They carry them in spite of what happened," he said. "We are a strong city, we are a strong community, you do not always think of it when you think of Las Vegas, but it is a signal that we are all together."
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An NHL expansion team whose run to the Stanley Cup Final has defied expectations and logic, the Golden Knights were part of this togetherness, even though they were new to the city. Their first home game was October 10, 2017, and it was a night few would ever forget: the tribute of the victims, the message of hope and resilience, the recognition of the first responders who worked tirelessly through this tragic night.
The Golden Knights were introduced to the city for the first time as they worked with police, firefighters, and medics who went ice-skating with them on the opening night. Physicians like Joseph Bruno, the nurse responsible for the trauma department of the University Hospital on the evening of the shooting. He left with defender Colin Miller.
"It was an emotional night, something really special," said Miller. "The organization took the time for these people and it was cool, they went out of it all in the heat."
Bruno remembered how much the city needed the knights back then. He remembered how much he needed her.
"I think that's very common when a tragedy hits a community like this, you want something that stands behind you, you want something positive, something to make up for any terrible event Sport is a great way to do this to do, "he said.
The notion of "Vegas Strong" is not just a reference to the defiance of the city in the face of tragedy. It is a commentary on the strength of ties within this community. From the team to the fans. From fans to team. From a city to its first responders like Bruno, who still handle the horrors of One October.
The Trauma Department of the University Hospital deals with all kinds of disasters: car accidents, organ failure, someone who has fallen down an escalator in a hotel.
On the night of the shootout, Bruno received a call from a unit in the field that an officer had been shot dead. "I had no details, so I called the whole trauma team," he said.
Bruno received another call from the embassy when they gathered: There was an active shooter event on the Strip. His trauma unit could expect more than 20 deaths.
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"It was extremely confusing what happened that night, especially in the first few minutes," he said. "It's not uncommon to receive false notifications of shipping, the police are being called, they are responding. [Sometimes] It turns out that nothing is happening, the fact that I've already received a call from a unit, someone When I was injured, I decided to say goodbye to the mass tragedy protocol in our unit. "
No matter how many exercises Bruno and his team practiced, nothing could really prepare them for the scope of the horrors. Body pierced with bullets that had broken bones and pierced their innards. The blood loss. The smell of gunpowder, hanging in the air and emanating from every victim, slipped in.
But in the midst of chaos there was silence.
"When you watch a medical TV show on TV, it's hard for people to scream and cry," Bruno said. "But the general calm of the victims … we evaluated every victim who came in and took them where they needed to go, we could not have done better."
His shift ended at 7 in the morning with his attempts to help countless victims of shooting. Some have done it. Many did not do that.
Was Bruno looking for what happened after leaving the hospital?
"No, no … the opposite," he said. "The only thing that worried me was whether it was a sort of terrorist attack or ongoing attacks on the city, but I spoke to one [police official] who said it was an isolated rifle, my concern was my family and all my friends. "
Oct. 1 was 2 October. Two consecutive days in the city's history could have felt so dissimilar.
"We had very few people who came [the next day] to seek care," recalled Bruno. "I never say 'quiet', but it felt like the whole city was silenced, and myself and many of my staff went around in shock."
They sought comfort, seeking answers, seeking something to capture and alleviate this confusing feeling.
Then the Golden Golden Knights called in search of first responders.
Before Joseph Bruno won a team, he lost one
He grew up in Connecticut, where he followed both the NHL's Hartford Whalers and the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks. In 1997, both had moved to Canada to become the Hurricanes and the latter to Prince Edward Island as the Ottawa Senator's partner.
"It was just devastating when both teams left the city," he said. "I stayed for years." 
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When Vegas was announced as an NHL expansion city, Bruno and his wife Layla, a fan of Dallas Stars, were thrilled. Her friends? A little less. "When it was announced that we would get a hockey team in Vegas, many of my friends said, 'Oh, we're getting a pro sports team … but oh, great, it's a hockey team & # 39; he said
But the moment the hockey team honored the city's bravest during the opening ceremonies, all the banter disappeared. It did not matter if you were a hockey fan: The Golden Knights were Vegas' team at a time when Vegas needed something to rally.
"It's hard to fathom when you sit back and find you've lost 58 people" During the opening ceremony, these 58 seconds felt like they always were, "said General Manager George McPhee," We do our very best as a team given. We were put on a huge platform that was unexpected on the first night to hold a ceremony and get it right. We did our best to do it right, to be respectful and honorable "the people and help them mourn and heal and persevere."
Bruno arrived at the T-Mobile Arena on the opening night and met with friends from other hospitals. No one was sure what her role would be this evening. Eventually, it was revealed that each first responder was paired with a player.
(Bruno said he was glad that Miller was still in the team.) The helper walking on the red carpet with Brendan Leipsic was less fortunate.)
The ceremony remains a study in perfection. Bruno recalls the player intros, the speech by Deryk Engelland, a resident of Vegas, who's heart-stricken about the tragedy and scream of "Vegas Strong!" that underlined that moment of silence and pulled a roar from the fans.
"I thought the team did a phenomenal job," he said. "It was tasteful, it was respectful."
The Support of the knights did not end on the opening night.
"Surely this community was amazing how it came together, it was amazing how our players are. I immediately volunteered to continue helping and did a lot of things offline that people do not know about We have a lot of humble people, we have trainers and other people who are doing things to help people in this community and always as long as we are here, "said McPhee, whose team has been victimized throughout the season , their families and first responders honored.
"It is an unfortunate thing that has happened, and sometimes beautiful things follow such a thing and the way this community came together and these people really helped each other, it was a nice thing to be a witness and experience."  Although the players did not make the tragedy a focus of motivating moments in the locker room, they have recognized this unique connection with the community (19659004) "With everything that has happened, we've played more than one team, more than we only played for the city, "said Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to ESPN in December," perhaps it simply reminds us that we're only playing hockey, and everything else means so much more than just winning a game – especially in the situation we were in. Many people look up to us, which will help us survive those tough days by listening to the fans in the first three weeks of the season Let's talk – a thank you, that they needed it.
"After that, we put it in. What made it a start was that it was made It's clear to us that it's bigger than us, be consistent in every game, spend 110 percent, buy it. "
The buy-in has happened. The effort was there all season. Whatever the motivation, whatever brought them to this point, the Vegas Golden Knights are ready to deliver an unparalleled amount of joy to their fans, months after experiencing an unprecedented amount of anxiety.
"A Stanley Cup would obviously be phenomenal," said Bruno. "But win or lose, this season has resisted expectations."
He is still thinking about an October. Everyone in Las Vegas is doing it. But now, months later, many of these thoughts include how the Golden Knights helped with the healing process with their incredible journey into the Stanley Cup final.
"It's a personal thing to have this team here," Bruno said. "The city has fallen in love with the team and the players really seem to love the city."