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Golden Knights do the right thing in helping arena workers

Updated March 19, 2020 - 7:50 pm

I miss Kenny and Susan.

They share shifts operating the media elevator at T-Mobile Arena for Golden Knights games.

Each always has a smile and watches the games on a television situated above the door.

They and so many like them were taken care of Thursday.

It had to happen in this chaotic time of the coronavirus.

It was the right thing to do.

The Knights followed the lead of so many professional teams and athletes in providing funds to assist part-time game day employees and hourly on-call staff who were previously scheduled to work the season’s remaining home games.

It was a group effort by several factions of the organization, pledging a minimum of $500,000 to the effort.

Marc-Andre Fleury led the player contributions with a $100,000 donation.

Of course he did.

Fleury remains the face of the franchise no matter how often he deflects credit to others. There is no one like him in the room and few like him among those beloved athletes who have called Las Vegas home.

Even now, with trade-deadline acquisition Robin Lehner sharing duties in net, Fleury holds a unique place in the hearts of fans. He always will.

“A big part of what makes the Vegas Golden Knights game day experience so memorable is the staff working behind the scenes,” Fleury said via statement. “As players, we truly appreciate all the employees who work so hard in making The Fortress the best place to play in the NHL. They are just as much a part of the Las Vegas community as we are.”

Isn’t that the point?

I’m not sure there has been a sports franchise such as the Knights that so quickly connected with a community. While the team’s reaction to the October 1 shooting and its historic expansion season helped create such a bond, it has remained strong.

Be assured that countless of those working games at T-Mobile are just as faithful to the Knights as those they serve, be it through food and beverage, medical and retail, event personnel, cleaning operations and so on.

Translation: Kenny and Susan are hardly the only ones drawing a paycheck who are all-in on the team.

Mark Cuban began this swell of support when the Dallas Mavericks owner made a commitment to pay all arena workers inside American Airlines Center while the NBA was closed for business due to the virus.

Soon, players and teams from all sports across the globe did as well, compensating those who work their games.

Major League Baseball, in fact, pledged $1 million to the cause from each of its 30 teams.

Where does the line begin with the wealthiest among us sharing the responsibility of helping the less fortunate? Do the rich have an inherent obligation to aid in such uncertain times? Is it ever correct to ask or even demand of others how to spend their money?

Believe in good

I struggle with such questions. But while players and teams might not be legally bound to ensure workers are financially secure, isn’t there a moral side of this to help those you constantly credit for being part of an organization’s success?

You want to believe those with the most are compassionate.

That they will gladly minimize the struggle of their fellow man.

Not all do. Some, however, give until it hurts.

The only perfection there is, tennis great Andre Agassi once said, is the perfection of helping others.

“It was important for us to take care of all these people, most of whom are not our employees, but instead those of (third-party vendors),” Knights owner Bill Foley said. “I see them every home game, ask them about their families. We wanted to make sure if the games aren’t played and canceled, the money goes directly to the individuals and not their companies.

“These are dedicated, hard-working people that we care about.”

Kenny and Susan are such two.

They say “We” a lot when referring to the team, and it is probably a little confusing to them that the media covering the Knights — well, some anyway — can’t return their love for all things Fortress.

But they still smile.

Following the news Thursday, I imagine they’re doing so now more than ever.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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