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Real Deal

James Neal on what makes this hockey season special in Las Vegas

"Honestly, what happened [last October’s mass shooting] … you see terrible things throughout America, but when it’s a place you’re trying to make your home, it’s different. We kind of took it on ourselves to play for this city. You can’t go anywhere here without knowing somebody who was affected. A lot of us were at that concert. Out here, the people who live in Las Vegas, it’s a small, tight community. There was this unbelievable thing that happened, and then we’re playing a hockey game — the first real hockey game, and it’s the first big professional game this city has had. People were crying during the opening ceremony, and then we scored a goal a few minutes later, and I’m literally telling guys on the bench to look around because people had tears of joy. Out here, there is still so much pain. But when it comes to us, there’s just this universal happiness. These people needed us. We actually talked about that responsibility. It’s a real thing.”

— James Neal, Vegas Golden Knights winger