Stars honor Vegas victims, announcer Strader at season opener

The Dallas Stars honored the victims of the deadly Las Vegas shooting during its season opener Friday night against the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights are the NHL’s newest team and Friday was the first game in the franchise’s history. Both teams had Nevada-shaped stickers on their helmets that said “Vegas Strong” with the outline of the city's iconic strip.

The Golden Knights had a lot on their minds during the traditional morning skate on Friday. They’re not only making their debut but doing so representing a city that's been through so much.

“We gotta go out there and work and make the city proud,” said Deryk Engelland, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman.

Engelland knew people who were in the crowd when bullets rained down on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on Sunday night.

“I knew a lot of the people that were down there, a few people that were hit, and a lot of the first responders,” Engelland said. “As much as you try to block and out and play the game, I don't think that's possible. It's a tragic event that's going to stick with people for a long time.”

It's not just the Golden Knights players who are thinking about what happened on Sunday. Stars winger Adam Cracknell once played for a minor league team in Las Vegas.

“It's hard to see because I was at that concert a few years ago and I don't think that concert is ever going to be the same,’ Cracknell said.

When both teams took the ice, they did so honoring Las Vegas on their helmets and with their play.

“It's a chance for us to give the city something to smile about in tough times,” said former Stars player and current Golden Knights center Cody Eakin.

“I work at one of the hospitals in our city,” said Knights fan Necole Babcock. “It's been stressful for everybody so it's been important for us to look forward to not letting anything keep us down.”

The Babcocks’ son lost a friend in the shooting.

Baylor students Chandler Young and Pierce Alexander are also from Vegas.

“It's just scary knowing that your home is devastated by something so tragic,” Young said.

There was a moment of silence before the game's start in addition to the “Vegas Strong” stickers that players wore. Fans who bought 50-50 raffle tickets supported the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation.

The Stars also honored former announcer Dave Strader, who died Sunday at the age of 62. He had battled cholangiocarcinoma, a form of bile duct cancer, for over a year. The Stars wore a sticker on their helmet that is a microphone with the initials DS.

“His voice is synonymous with hockey to fans all over the globe and he built a connection for so many fans to this game. More importantly, he was a tremendous husband, father, grandfather and friend and we will miss him deeply. Our sincerest prayers and condolences are directed to his wife Colleen and their entire family,” Stars President and CEO Jim Lites said.

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