Panthers and Lightning make huge donation

Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck (21) battles for the puck with Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) and center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Hurricane Irma has wreaked havoc across the state of Florida, prompting schedule changes, traveling conflicts and more for numerous sports organizations. In a kind gesture to aid the relief efforts, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, NHL and NHLPA announced on Tuesday that they have made a joint $2.7 million donation.

Initially making headway to the Florida Keys, the hurricane has since battered neighboring towns such as Naples, Jacksonville, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa Bay, Lakeland and other places.

“I feel sorry for everyone,” Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau told USA TODAY Sports. “I hope everyone stays safe and I hope it changes direction at the last minute.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins were originally scheduled to play their regular season-opener on Sunday, but had those plans marred with the weather. Additionally, a number of collegiate contests last weekend scheduled to take place in the Florida area were rescheduled or canceled.

The Panthers may have to revert to a contingency plan, such as moving training camp to Massachusetts. The players already evacuated the area on Friday. A rookie tournament involving the Lightning, Panthers, Capitals, Predators slated for September 9 through September 12 in South Florida was also not played in the area due to the recent turmoil.

Although the tandem of Florida-based NHL franchises have become the latest sports entities to make a massive donation, a variety of teams throughout the wide world of sports have continued to join forces in order to tackle the devastation left by both Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma on the East Coast.

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