Predators prepare to host Tampa Bay at last minute after hurricane

WSMV's Marissa Sulek catches up with Tampa Bay Lightning players ahead of their Thursday night matchup with the Predators.
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Tampa Bay Lightning are in town Thursday for a preseason game against the Nashville Predators.

Originally the Lightning was scheduled to host the Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Due to Hurricane Ian, the Lightning and the Predators decided to evacuate Tampa’s players and families to Nashville.

The Lightning said they took two large planes, a few private jets and over 70 hotel rooms to accommodate their players, families and pets.

As the Lightning practiced at Bridgestone Arena Thursday morning, their mind was on the game. But for Nick Paul, it was definitely back home.

“Once we got the evacuation notices, we got a team meeting, got an escape call to discuss the best scenario in how we should evacuate and take care of families and pets and everything, you name it,” Paul said.

He said some players got on planes right away to Nashville and over 20 kids came along.

“It was a little hectic for a lot of guys,” Paul said.

“It was a really stressful situation, I think, for both parties,” Nashville Predators Corporate Communications Coordinator Katie Cafiero said.

She said they thought about canceling Thursday’s game altogether, but the goal was to make sure all players and their families were somewhere safe.

“We weren’t really anticipating to host the game at the arena,” Cafiero said. “So, then it was all hands-on deck, getting staff and making sure the schedule was good to host a game tonight.”

As the Predators prepared for the unexpected home game Thursday, Tampa Bay has more to think about.

“You never want to be in this situation,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “But our thoughts and prayers go out to people in Florida. It’s been the center of this, and you can see the devastation today.”

“Seeing some of those videos yesterday and everything that is going on, you just hope that people are safe,” Paul said.

The Nashville Predators Foundation is also raising money to help those in Florida with their hurricane relief auction at this week’s games.