The Nashville Predators hockey team played with a purpose beyond just winning on Tuesday night when they faced off against the NHL-leading Boston Bruins. The team wanted to provide a moment of joy for the city of Nashville following a fatal shooting at a grade school that left six people dead, including three children.
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who has three daughters all under nine years old, did not travel with the team to Boston due to the proximity of the shooting to his daughters’ school, which was on lockdown. McDonagh and his teammates felt the weight of the tragedy and wanted to do their part to inspire their city.
“We felt like we needed to go out and do our job the best we could and sacrifice and leave it all out there and just try to maybe bring a little bit of inspiration to the city of Nashville,” McDonagh said.
Both the Predators and Bruins wore helmet stickers in support of The Covenant School, where the shooting took place. The Bruins also held a moment of silence before the national anthem.
“The Bruins stand alongside the Nashville Predators in solidarity against gun violence and its support of the Nashville community,” the PA announcer said.
Coach John Hynes spoke to his team about the platform they have as professional athletes and the importance of providing a few hours of relief for those affected by the shooting. He reminded his team that “part of sports, it is for the players and people involved with it, but I think for the fans, it’s an opportunity to take a few hours and maybe get away from a few things in your life. That was the message that we took into the game.”
Nashville is currently vying for the eighth and final playoff spot and has won three of its last eight games. The team hopes to continue their momentum and provide a small glimmer of hope for their city in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The whole incident hit close to home for McDonagh, and he expressed how difficult it was to comprehend the tragedy as a parent.
“Quite frankly, there are really no words that you can say after what went on yesterday in Nashville,” he said. “Just a tragedy for those families and everybody affected. You don’t really realize it until you have kids of your own and the perspective. It hits you.”
Despite the heartache and sadness, the Predators were able to rally together and show their support for their community through their game. The team recognizes their role as professional athletes and the importance of using their platform to provide hope and inspiration during difficult times.