Luongo, Panthers honour Parkland community at NHL Awards

Watch as members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hockey team help present Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders with the Calder Memorial Trophy.

On Valentine’s Day this year unspeakable tragedy struck the small Florida community of Parkland when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, his former school, and went on a horrific shooting spree that ended up taking the lives of 17 people and wounding 17 others.

Flash-forward four months and, with the community still trying to heal, Wednesday night at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas offered the people of Parkland a level of respite.

In a kind gesture, members of the Florida Panthers went on stage and spoke about how the students and faculty members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have inspired them, and said to look into ways to help make their community safer.

Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo was particularly impassioned, calling for action to keep kids safe at school.

“In the months since the 17 lives were lost on Feb. 14 in the Parkland community my family and I call home, these young men and their classmates have inspired our community and a nation with their resilience, their strength and their candor,” Luongo said. “We all hope that their example can spark the action needed that our kids can be safe at school and that tragedies that occurred at MSD in February will never happen again.”

Following his speech, Luongo invited members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas hockey team — who also happened to win a state title just 11 days after the awful incident — up onto the Awards stage to announce Mathew Barzal as the winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy.

A classy gesture, and one the members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas hockey team won’t soon forget.

“On behalf of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas hockey club, we would like to thank the Panthers organization and the NHL for all they have done and continue to do for us,” said MSD team captain Matthew Hauptman. “You were there for us and we truly appreciate your support. Thank you.”

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