It has not been a good couple of weeks for Steven Reinprecht from a professional standpoint.
Florida's second line center for a good chunk of last season, Reinprecht found himself moved to the fourth line during training camp before being moved from his natural position to winger.
Reinprecht, who played in all 82 games for the Panthers last season, was then benched for Florida's first three games. Reinprecht finally made his 2010-11 debut on Saturday as he was the left winger on a fourth line with center Mike Santorelli and right winger Steve Bernier.
With Reinprecht playing, Darcy Hordichuk and Kenndal McArdle (who played just 6:54 Thursday in Calgary) were the healthy scratches.
Reinprecht made quite an impression in his first game, scoring Florida's third goal of the night.
“It's nice to get in because as a player, it's tough to sit out and watch. You want to contribute,'' Reinprecht said before Saturday's home opener. “He's the coach and makes the decisions. You have to be ready when you get in the lineup, show I don't want to come out. The team's playing well, I want to contribute and help the offense get something going.''
Coach Pete DeBoer said in camp that he wanted to create some internal competition for playing time, and with two extra forwards, he's gotten that. Of the first four games, Reinprecht and McArdle have sat for three of them; Saturday was Hordichuk's second straight scratch.
“Everyone is on notice. I told [Reinprecht] this is nothing personal but we're going to put the best lineup on the ice that we can,'' said DeBoer. “Our competitiveness has to be high every night for us to compete. One way to do that is to shuffle the lineup. I'm sure we're going to get a hungry player.''
Panthers goalie Tyler Plante is apparently OK after passing out while on the bench during an AHL game on Friday night in Rochester, N.Y.
Plante, who backs up Jacob Markstrom for the Americans, had to be helped into the locker room by teammates and staff. He was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released.
Florida goalie coach Robb Tallas and assistant general manager Mike Santos both confirmed that Plante has had a rapid heartbeat at times, although Santos said dehydration likely led to Plante's episode on Friday. He will continue tests this week.
The Panthers have a new rule in their locker room, one in which players will be fined $500 for walking on the carpeted team logo in the middle of the room. The same fine will be administered if a player allows his practice or game jersey to hit the floor.
“I had a conversation with our captain, Bryan McCabe, and we had this rule way back with the Islanders and he was the captain there,'' said Santos. “It's about having respect for your locker room and your organization. It's simple. You can see in our first three games that there's a lot more pride from these guys. It translates.''
The team also redecorated the room with large action photos of retired former Panthers hung from the walls. The late Roger Neilson, who coached the team in its first two seasons, is included as are the likes of Scott Mellanby, John Vanbiesbrouck and Brian Skrudland.