Brayden McNabb remembered the newness. New ice. Locker room. Seats. Scoreboard.
“I thought it was great,” McNabb said. “The dressing room wasn’t finished, but there was a lot of room. The ice, from what I remember, was really good.
“It feels like the fans are right on top of you. I think it’s going to be a loud building, and hopefully it will be a huge advantage for us.”
McNabb was referring to T-Mobile Arena. He played in the first NHL game in what is now the home of the Golden Knights on Oct. 7, 2016, when he was with the Los Angeles Kings. Now, the 26-year-old defenseman calls Las Vegas home, and his home rink is on the Strip instead of Staples Center.
The Knights christen their home at 7 p.m. Tuesday, with McNabb’s former team providing the opposition. That should spice things up for him, along with the fan bases that have taken a dislike to each other on social media.
“I still keep in touch with a lot of those guys. It should be interesting,” McNabb said of the Kings, who just returned from a two-game trip to China, where they swept the Vancouver Canucks.
Knights center Cody Eakin was supposed to play against McNabb in that first NHL game at T-Mobile when he was with the Dallas Stars. But he was injured and didn’t play, so he’s looking forward to getting on the ice.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I expect the fans to be loud,” Eakin said. “I’m looking forward to our fans cheering for us.”
Deryk Engelland knows what it’s like to play before Las Vegas fans. The Knights’ veteran defenseman played for the Wranglers of the ECHL from 2003 to 2005 at Orleans Arena.
“There were always good crowds when I played for the Wranglers,” Engelland said. “They were loud and enthusiastic, and I expect it to be even louder now that the NHL is here.”
The Knights are 3-1 after the road portion of their preseason schedule. They’re at home three times this week, also hosting Colorado on Thursday and San Jose on Sunday. Coach Gerard Gallant said while it’s nice to finally play at home, the primary focus is getting ready for Oct. 6 when the regular season opens in Dallas.
“I’m sure the players are excited to be playing at home for the first time,” he said. “We’re still evaluating, and there’s guys battling for those last few spots on the roster, so I’m looking more at that.”
Defenseman Brad Hunt hopes to continue his solid play this week and land one of those final roster spots. Hunt, a free agent who played last season with St. Louis and Nashville, has one goal and five assists in three games.
“It’s exciting to finally be home and play in our own rink in front of our fans,” he said. “You walk in and everything is so new and so fresh. I can’t wait.”
Contact Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.
Who: Kings vs. Golden Knights
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: T-Mobile Arena
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM)