It started off as a typical workday for Julie Kapelan, a diehard Nashville Predators fan since 1999.
Nothing was out of the ordinary in the anesthesiology department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on Wednesday. Early in the afternoon, however, she was told by a superior to attend a mandatory meeting in room No. 716.
“I thought I was in trouble for something because no one would say anything to me,” Kapelan, 40, said. “I’m thinking this is going to be the worst day ever and what if I’m getting fired? What did I do?”
She had no reason to worry.
When she walked into the meeting room, Predators Captain Shea Weber
and star goaltender Pekka Rinne
were inside, holding a box with her season tickets. Kapelan, dressed in scrubs, brought her hands immediately to her face, where tears surfaced seconds later.
“As soon as I saw Pekka, I thought, “Is that really Pekka?” Kapelan said with a laugh afterwards. “Then I saw Shea and it got even better. It was amazing. I love these guys.”
Hugs were shared, laughs boomed and relief was felt. She said she was upset with herself that she wasn’t wearing any Predators clothing, until it was pointed out that a Predators logo could be seen near her neckline peaking out from her t-shirt.
“Oh, wow, I guess I am,” she said with a laugh.
Kapelan was a partial season-ticket holder last year and became a full season-ticket holder for the 2011-12 season. She was wondering why her tickets had not been mailed yet, not knowing that a special delivery was on the way.
“I was thinking I know I paid and usually I get them by now,” Kapelan said. “And I knew there is a game next week. I thought it was a little odd. I was checking the mail every day. I know I’m a total dork, but I wanted to post a picture of my season tickets on Facebook.”
She has a little bit of a better picture to post now, her standing next to a Vezina Trophy finalist and a Norris Trophy finalist.
“You never know what kind of responses you’re going to get,” Weber said. “To see people react when they see you, it’s kind of crazy and hard to believe you can make some people so emotional.”
Earlier in the day, Weber and Rinne surprised employees at Grand Avenue Chauffeured Transportation, including CEO Carl Haley.
“It is awesome to surprise our fans like this,” Rinne said. “It’s exciting for us to do this and it’s exciting for them. We were lucky to meet a couple of really big fans. It was special.”
Other Predators players who participated in surprising season ticket holders with their tickets included Blake Geoffrion, Ryan Suter
, Patric Hornqvist
, Jordin Tootoo
and Kevin Klein