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Margaret Dahl would like Gerard Gallant to know how much he will be missed in Las Vegas.
But first, some back story.
On Oct. 1, 2017 a terrible tragedy struck the city of Las Vegas.
A gunman opened fire on a crowded concert, killing 58 people and wounding more than 400 others. The unprecedented event left that city in mourning.
Just a few days later, the Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL's newest franchise, held its first home game. The Golden Knights are the only professional sports team that calls Las Vegas home, so a city that was looking for something positive to turn to latched on to the excitement the team brought with it.
In short order, the desert city became an ice hockey haven.
Margaret Dahl is a long-time Las Vegas resident and a born-again hockey fan.
She had always disliked hockey and the violence traditionally associated with the sport. But her daughter is a sports fan who jumped on the Golden Knights bandwagon and brought her mother and father along with her.
“The Vegas Golden Knights, under coach Gallant, really helped the whole city bind together after the shooting,” said Dahl.
“It happened and that tore the city apart. Then their inaugural home game happened just days after and from then on it was a feeling of, this is our team, this belongs to Las Vegas.”
So, when it was announced on Jan. 15 that the Golden Knights had fired Summerside, P.E.I. native and team head coach Gerard “Turk” Gallant, along with fellow Islander, assistant coach Mike Kelly, from Shamrock, Dahl felt the need to voice her profound disappointment with the decision.
“I had to do something to help myself feel better,” she said.
“I had to do something to let him know.”
Dahl doesn't use social media and knew of no way to contact the two men directly, so she reached out to the Journal Pioneer in the form of a heartfelt letter to the editor. It is available to be read today on Page A6.
In it, Dahl thanks Gallant for his contribution to life in Las Vegas and the role he played in helping the city recovery after that terrible October day.
“There are people here who really appreciate what he did and wish him well and will be cheering him wherever he goes next,”
In the meantime, the Dahl family is not quite sure what their future holds in terms of being Golden Knights fans. They've already stopped wearing their team pins.
They are not the only ones. Back in Summerside, Mayor Basil Stewart recently told CBC that he had removed his Golden Knights pin and wouldn't be wearing it again.
In fact, for almost two years the menacing gold and black logo of the Golden Knights has been a common site on P.E.I. and in the Summerside area especially.
But don't expect to see it around much anymore.
Chris Ahern of Summerside, is a long-time Boston Bruins fan, but like many he has some Golden Knights merchandise he bought in support of Gallant and Kelly.
Shortly after the team's leadership shakeup was announced, Ahern filmed himself symbolicly shaving the Golden Knights sticker off his vehicle. He even stomped on it for good measure.
“I was shocked. I did not expect that whatsoever. I knew they were on a little bit of a slide, but I certainly didn't expect (the firing) to even be on the radar. It was pretty upsetting,” said Ahern.
But with talk already circulating as to what new team Gallant and Kelly might be a good fit for, Ahern is sure he'll be replacing that sticker with another.
“As long as it's not Montreal,” he warned.
“I mean I'd be happy for (Gallant) if that's what he wants. But I won't be putting a sticker on my truck, that's for sure.”
If there are any die-hard Golden Knights fans left on P.E.I. now, they will probably have to order their merchandise from away from now on.
Dwayne McNeill is the owner/operator of Source for Sports in Summerside and as soon as he heard the news, took action.
“Yeah, actually I canceled all my (Golden Knights) orders. I won't sell it,” said McNeill.
“It happened when Doug MacLean was in Florida, when he got fired we didn't sell any more of (their merchandise). It happened when (Gallant and Kelly) were in Columbus and they got fired, we didn't sell any more of it. So I'm not ordering any more of it. It's just a business decision,”
In 2017, when the Golden Knights made their much-hyped Stanley Cup finals run in their inaugural year, McNeill said he could not get merchandise for the team fast enough. Since then, Las Vegas has fallen to fourth place in terms of sales, behind old favourites like Toronto, Montreal and Boston.
He'll be keeping an eager eye out for wherever these two hometown hockey heroes land next, he said.
There is guaranteed to be a demand for merchandise, whatever logo is on it.