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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nicholas and Anthony Robone are about as close as two brothers can be.
They are the only two kids in their family, born and raised in Las Vegas. Nick and Tony share a passion for ice hockey, and as boys used their tape-wrapped hockey sticks to knock a puck around the street.
Tony followed Nick in becoming a defenseman, and joined him as a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A year ago, they pooled their money to buy the three-bedroom house they share.
So it wasn’t unusual that they were together at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Oct. 1 when a gunman opened fire on the crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, striking Nick, 28, in the upper chest and forcing firefighter and paramedic Tony, 25, into the role of his big brother’s rescuer.
Nick was at the country music festival with a three-day pass his parents gave him for his September birthday. ”It was going to be a fun night to hang out,” he said.
Tony, with the Henderson County Fire Department, couldn’t join his brother the first two days, but arrived at the festival grounds at about 8:30 p.m. on the final night after attending the Vegas Golden Knights professional hockey game. The brothers were with a few friends in the middle of the main stage area.
County music singer Jason Aldean was just a few songs into his set when the popping sounds started after 10 p.m. and Nick felt a piercing pain in his left side. A bullet had entered his chest right above his heart and lung, and traveled down to his side muscle, missing organs but badly bruising the lung.
Tony treated Nick’s wound as round after round of gunfire rained down on the panicked crowd. In the end, 58 people died. Hundreds were injured in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Tony told a news conference two days after the shooting that he and their friend Billy Tufano, an emergency medical technician, helped get Nick to the east side of the stage where they hid behind a police car. They later continued farther east, and eventually got Nick into an ambulance.
Critically injured, Nick was in surgery for four hours, in intensive care at Sunrise Hospital for five days, and released after 10 days.
Three weeks after the shooting, Nick is home recovering. He gets around pretty well on his own, he said in a telephone interview last week. He’s expected to make a full recovery.
”There won’t be any real rehab to speak off,” he said. ”Just walk around a few times a day,” do some regular breathing exercises and eat a good diet.
Nick has credited quick attention by his brother and friends at the concert for saving his life. Tony ”NEVER left my side,” he said in a tweet.
Doctors have estimated it will be six to eight weeks before he can return to work, he said.
Nick said he’s received unconditional support from Topgolf, an entertainment property with a driving range and restaurants where he’s employed in marketing. He also is an assistant ice hockey coach at his alma mater, where the Rebels hockey team and its fans have rallied around him.
With the VegasStrong hashtag scrawled on signs throughout the City National Arena, the ”Skatin’ Rebels” won their home game 8-0 in Nick’s honor the Friday after the massacre. A few days later, he felt well enough to visit the team and promise, ”I’ll be back.”
”My brother is the toughest guy I know,” Tony said. ”And I think the amount of support from the community, from the hockey community, from the firefighter community, it just represents and reflects the kind of guy he is.”
The feeling is mutual. ”My brother is a really great guy,” Nick said.
Per that report, Parise is contemplating back surgery that would sideline the 33-year-old forward — who still hasn’t played a game this season — for up to two months.
Parise missed the beginning of training camp with a back injury, but had started to skate with the team before suffering a setback and leaving the ice during a session last week. At the time, general manager Chuck Fletcher was hopeful that this setback was only a short-term issue.
“We’ll see what it means. I don’t want to speculate, but it would have been better if he could have finished the practice, but he didn’t, so we’ll see how he feels,” said Fletcher last week.
“I try not to get too up or down and things like that. You feel badly for Zach, he’s working hard and he’s in great shape, and hopefully this is just a short-term setback, if it even is a setback. We’ll find out more later on, but I’m sure it’s very frustrating for him.”
This also surfaced out of Minnesota this afternoon, following the initial report:
The Wild are about to begin a six-game home stand, which gets underway Tuesday when they host the Canucks.
With a 2-2-2 record through six games to begin the season, Minnesota has experienced a disastrous list of injuries so far. Not only has Parise not yet made his debut, but Charlie Coyle (right fibula fracture) and Nino Niederreiter are still listed on injured reserve, and Mikael Granlund hasn’t played since the season opener back on Oct. 5.
The news surrounding Granlund is certainly more positive. He skated again on Monday and coach Bruce Boudreau was hopeful that the 25-year-old winger, who had a breakout 2016-17 season, could be ready to go versus the Canucks.
There was a scare involving star forward Alex Ovechkin during Washington Capitals practice on Monday.
Per reports, Ovechkin limped off the ice after getting tangled up with a teammate during drills. He left the ice and reportedly didn’t return, which would certainly be cause for concern.
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz seemed to quell that a little bit afterward.
“I think he’s going to be okay,” said Trotz, per NBC Sports Washington. “I got to talk to the trainers here. He got tangled up there; it’s a contact sport.”
The Capitals, who have lost five of their last seven games, don’t play again until Thursday, when they visit the Vancouver Canucks to start a three-game road trip that also includes stops in Edmonton and Calgary.
On an individual level, the 32-year-old Ovechkin has enjoyed a great start to the season, with 10 goals, which puts him into a tie atop the league in that category with Nikita Kucherov of the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that on Monday, the linemates received recognition from the NHL for their efforts, with Kucherov being named the NHL’s second star for last week and Stamkos the first star.
(By the way, remember that column about tempering expectations on Stamkos early in the season? Yeah, about that . . .)
Last week, Kucherov had to endure a brutal one-game scoring slump but did manage to capture five goals and eight points in four games, and is battling with Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals with 10. Stamkos, who has most recently had to battle back from knee surgery last season, had 11 points in four games, capped off with a four-point performance and a career milestone against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
“You can’t overlook the fact that 600 points — that’s a lot of points in this league,” said coach Jon Cooper on Monday. “He’s just shy of 600 games right? So, to play that many games and be above a point-per-game player … it’s one thing to do that in 10 games but to do it in 600 games is pretty impressive.”
The Bolts and Toronto Maple Leafs continue to duke it out for not only the highest scoring team in the league right now, but also top spot in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning currently have a three-point lead.
While Kucherov and Stamkos have been a big part of Tampa Bay’s hot start, this club has received healthy contributions throughout their lineup. Their linemate Vladislav Namestnikov has gone about his business with 10 points, which has him tied in that category with Brayden Point.
Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who is still 19 years old and eligible to return to junior, is on the verge of playing his 10th game, but he’s currently Tampa Bay’s most productive blue liner (eight points in nine games), which makes it virtually a guarantee that he’ll remain in the NHL beyond that mark, using up the first year of his entry-level contract.
“There’s a really good chance you’ll see him tomorrow,” said Cooper of Sergachev.
Oh, and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has been impressive early on with a .933 save percentage through his eight starts.
Kucherov and Stamkos are obviously worthy of this recognition, and it’s probably not the last time they’ll receive such kudos from the league as this season continues. But the danger this team poses to the opposition goes beyond its stars.