Pete DeBoer was a special guest of the Marlins on Tuesday night at Miami Gardens Stadium, joining the Fox crew during the top of the fourth.
The two announcers – Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton – aren't the biggest of hockey fans but they had some notes and asked DeBoer some questions about the upcoming season. DeBoer wore a Panthers golf shirt with a black Marlins cap on the air.
The first part of the conversation dealt with the brutal preseason schedule (one everyone around the league jokes about and players hate), although that was quickly glossed over. Waltz and Hutton apparently hadn't heard the team was opening the regular season in Finland with a pair against the Blackhawks.
''Unfortunately,'' DeBoer said when asked if both games were against Chicago. ''They're a pretty good team.''
Pete on being a baseball fan: ''I grew up in Ontario and was a big Blue Jays fan. I loved that team that won the championships. My son plays in Parkland. I'm a big ball fan. [Toronto] had some great players back then. It was a great time for baseball in Toronto then and it hasn't gotten back to that. It's like that in a lot of cities when they are winning.''
On the top players this year: ''The big thing this summer was signing David Booth. He will represent the U.S. in the upcoming Olympics. He's a big fan fave. Then we have Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton. Our goalie is Tomas Vokoun – probably our highest paid player, an elite goalie.''
On hockey in South Florida: ''We get great coverage down here. There's a good buzz. We're like the Marlins, right on the verge of doing something special. There are some great sports franchises down here.''
On dealing with Craig 'Craig' Minervini: “I survive Craig. Actually the Fox Sports guys are outstanding.''
On his second season: ''I feel a lot more comfortable. Last year, I had to move down here, coming from junior hockey to a new league, a new team. It was a new country, didn't know the personnel. I think we can hit the ground running this year. I found the transition less than I think was going to be. Hockey is hockey just like ball is ball. Guys want accountability, want to be treated fair. Once we got to that point about 20 games in, we really started to roll.''
On his first NHL game he ever attended: ''My first hockey game was probably the Buffalo Sabres. Dad couldn't afford Leafs tickets so we had to drive across the border.''
-- More from Pete tomorrow...
-- According to the Marlins:
Pete DeBoer, Florida Panthers Head Coach, will have the opportunity to countdown to the New Marlins Ballpark. The Marlins Wall Countdown, located in the left field wall at Land Shark Stadium, will feature celebrities, Marlins' icons, former and current players, season ticket holders, members of the corporate family, as well as special guests, who will assist in unveiling the number of remaining games.
The ceremony will take place in left field at the end of the 5th inning.