SUMMERLIN, Nevada — The two former Buffalo Sabres who are members of the Vegas Golden Knights say their experience with the NHL's newest expansion team has been a whirlwind from the day they were drafted in June.
Of course, it's taken on a much deeper meaning this month in the wake of the mass shooting Oct. 1 that took place less than a mile from T-Mobile Arena.
Winger William Carrier and defenseman Brayden McNabb were both taken by Vegas in the expansion draft, Carrier from the Sabres and McNabb from the Los Angeles Kings. They said Monday the emotion around the rink in the wake of the shooting has been unlike anything they've experienced in hockey.
The Golden Knights became the first expansion club to win their first three games and improved to 4-1 with Sunday's 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins. They host the Sabres Tuesday night at 10 p.m. Eastern time.
"It's been a crazy time," McNabb, 26, said at City National Arena, the team's suburban practice rink. "The hockey has been a lot of fun and when the tragedy happened, we all knew we wanted to get behind the city. Then you get the first three wins and it's huge for our franchise and our fans. It's been exciting to get the season going."
"It's been a good feeling around here," said Carrier, 22. "Guys really enjoy coming to the rink and that's the attitude you have to have. It's a hardworking team and that's what the coaches are implanting in us. Guys are doing exactly that."
McNabb has one assist in four games, sitting out Sunday as a healthy scratch on the crowded Vegas blueline. Carrier has no points while filling an energy role on the fourth line with Tomas Nosek and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
"It's an international line. That's what we call ourselves," said a smiling Carrier, who is French Canadian and playing with Nosek, a Czech, and Bellemare, a Frenchman.
McNabb, a former third-round pick of the Sabres, was traded in 2014 by former General Manager Tim Murray. Carrier made his NHL debut last season with Buffalo, collecting five goals and three assists in eight games.
Carrier said he texted congratulations to Justin Bailey after the Western New York native scored his first goal of the season Sunday in Anaheim.
"There was disappointment last year," Carrier said. "We felt we had a good team and couldn't get wins together. The coach and the GM get let go and it's really the players who are responsible for that. So they're trying a new system now and we know they've got some good players."
The Vegas players are getting used to lots of visiting fans in their building, which was nearly a 50-50 split Friday against Detroit.
"Those Buffalo fans will be out. I know that," said McNabb. "It's different because you know there will be a lot of tourists. Especially Original Six teams and other places that have been around a while. But our fans are loud. They've been tremendous for us. The city is really behind us and we want to give that back to them."