TAMPA — Victor Hedman emerged from the dressing room pregame still in his purple jersey. The rest of the team had changed into their usual blue home jerseys.
Hedman had a plan for his (one he had to explain to an official between the anthem and puck drop). After taking part in the ceremonial puck drop, he took off the lavender and purple sweater and handed it over to Akum Kang, who recently finished treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Monday’s “Hockey Fights Cancer” night wasn’t only a Lightning affair, either. Jack Eichel, Buffalo’s captain, handed over his purple-taped stick to Kang as well.
The Lightning warmed up in purple jerseys, many using purple-taped sticks. All were autographed and immediately put up for auction to benefit organizations fighting cancer.
They welcomed leukemia survivor Marissa Peddie to sing the national anthem. Peddie was diagnosed at age 8 and turned to music while going through treatment. She received her last treatment in 2017.
During the anthem, the Lightning and Sabres’ whole teams lined up holding survivor and in memory cards. Hedman’s was dedicated to Tom Miracle, the Lightning’s longtime ice crew manager who passed away earlier this month.
Representatives from 14 cancer care organizations stood at center ice with their own cards. Pat Maroon went down the whole row, bumping fists.
During the first intermission, the Lightning presented a $30,000 check to Moffitt Cancer Center, their portion of the 50/50 raffle proceeds from last season. The organization will also get part of this year’s proceeds.
The organization also recognized cancer survivor Katie Ballesteros, the special guest from this year’s Coop’s Catch for Kids event, during the first period. Her brother, Luis, who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy, provided bone marrow for her and sent a video message wishing her well.
Scott Fink was recognized as the community hero for his work fighting pediatric cancer. He asked that the $50,000 donation be made to St Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation. The game’s standing salute featured Richard Stayskal, a 17-year Army veteran currently undergoing treatment for Stage IV cancer. He is petitioning Congress to overturn the Feres Doctrine, which doesn’t allow active military members to sue the federal government if they sustain injuries during service.
Contact Diana C. Nearhos at email@example.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.