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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers are taking every precaution to protect players and staff from the threat of Hurricane Irma.

Several players are already in South Florida preparing for the upcoming NHL season. As the storm continues on its projected path toward the Sunshine State, the Panthers will be evacuating to Massachusetts on Friday.

The Miami Herald’s George Richards offered details on Wednesday.

The Panthers chartered a plane to shuttle players, staff members and their families to Boston.

The team is paying for the flight and could open training camp in Springfield, Massachusetts, next week depending on the extent of the damage in and around Broward County.

Players, coaching staff and hockey operations are part of the traveling party.

“We have the facilities in Springfield and could start camp there if we had to,” said team CEO Matthew Caldwell, who plans on riding out the storm at the arena.

“We hope this is just a couple days up in Massachusetts and a flight home. But we don’t know what’s going to happen, don’t know what we will sustain.”

“We have a good mix of players going up there and they’ll have great facilities in Boston. Hopefully everything works out here and we can fly them back in a few days.”

According to Richards, players making the trip include Roberto Luongo, Vincent Trockeck, Aleksander Barkov, and team captain Derek MacKenzie.

The Panthers home arena, Sunrise’s BB&T Center, will be used as a staging area for emergency equipment.

Meanwhile – the Miami Hurricanes road game against Arkansas State has been cancelled. It will not be made up.

And the Miami Dolphins’ scheduled Sunday home game against Tampa Bay has been moved to November 19th. 


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