The Florida Panthers began wearing helmet decals and jersey patches during their road game at Calgary on Saturday night to pay tribute to the victims of the school shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
On the right elbow, players’ jerseys contained a patch that read “MSD” in black lettering. The helmet decal contained the Stoneman Douglas logo and the school’s mascot, an eagle.
The tragedy on Wednesday hit home for the Panthers, whose practice facility in Coral Springs is minutes away from the high school. Their home arena, the BB&T Center in Sunrise, is about 15 miles from the school.
Saturday was the team’s second game since the shooting. They played at Vancouver hours after finding out the news on Wednesday that 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student at Stoneman Douglas, returned to his school just before dismissal with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and killed 17 students and teachers. The Canucks held a moment of silence before the game.
The Panthers’ first home game since the shooting will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against the Washington Capitals. The Panthers will also be partering with JetBlue and OneBlood for a blood drive ahead of the game on Thursday. The event will run from noon to 7 p.m. at the BB&T Center.
“We are committed to providing aid and support to our community as it grieves in response to this senseless tragedy,” Panthers president Matt Caldwell said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Panthers aren’t the only local team that has showed support. The Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team wore gray t-shirts during pre-game warm-ups against Syracuse on Saturday that read “Praying For Stoneman Douglas #MSDSTRONG.” After the game, coach Jim Larrañaga said that the coaching staff was “crying over what happened” and that the team “needed to send a message to Parkland and those families. We’re all impacted.”