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Nathan Paetsch Fills In On Fourth Line ... Panthers In Our Community

Paetsch A big reason the Panthers signed defenseman Nathan Paetsch was because of his versatility.

Like former Florida blueliner Steve Montador, Paetsch has no problems filling in on a forward line when needed.

With three forwards missing practice on Monday, Paetsch was summoned to help out.

“It's not a big deal because it's something I've pretty much done my entire pro career,'' said Paetsch, who worked on a fourth line with center Steven Reinprecht and winger Kenndal McArdle. “I've been going back and forth. It's gotten me a lot more games over my career because they know I can jump in on the fourth line and then keep my spot on the power play.''

The Panthers had a rough and spirited practice Monday morning as the team gears up for its season opener Sunday in Edmonton. The Panthers are missing center Marty Reasoner (knee) and wingers Byron Bitz (lower body) and Chris Higgins (groin).

Florida has plenty of defensemen, however, even with Dmitry Kulikov (foot) missing and Keaton Ellerby (shoulder) practicing, but without contact. Paetsch is in his first year with the Panthers after splitting last season with Buffalo and Columbus. Paetsch has seven goals and 35 assists in 167 NHL games.

“We have some injuries and he's a guy who has played up-and-back throughout his career,'' said coach Pete DeBoer. “It was a pretty easy decision when we needed someone. .-.-. Obviously, that's something you use more of a last resort. But it's good to know he can go up there and do it.''


The Panthers held their annual kickoff luncheon Monday afternoon in Coral Springs with all proceeds benefiting the Panthers Foundation. The team is raising money to pediatric cancer in South Florida, with goalies Tomas Vokoun and Scott Clemmensen doing a little extra to help out.

During the lunch, Clemmensen and Vokoun announced they would both donate $1 per save this season to the Jessica June Children's Cancer Foundation. Vokoun credited Clemmensen for coming up with the idea after the team had a private meet-and-greet with afflicted children and their families prior to the event.

“It's just like people say, they never think it's going to affect them,'' said Vokoun. “It's always someone else. Truth is, cancer does affect a lot of people and we see that all the time. I'm happy to join Clemm in trying to help out.''


When the lunch was complete, the entire team boarded a charter bus and headed south to the Homestead-Miami Speedway for a team building event. At the track, the players and coaches were scheduled to work with Team Penske members who stuck around after Saturday night's Indy 300.

The Panthers planned to work on the pit crew and take a couple of laps around the track in a pace car.

“We have a new group, a lot of new faces as we made some major personnel changes over the summer,'' DeBoer said. “We just thought it would be good to get the guys together to do something. This fit. It's not a two or three day excursion and doesn't take away practice or preparation time. I also don't think these guys have been exposed to before.''

-- Players waived on Sunday – wingers Michael Grabner and Andrew Peters as well as defenseman Joe Callahan – will either clear or be claimed by another team at noon on Tuesday. Whatever players clear will be assigned to Florida's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y.