OTTAWA -- At the end of Thursday's morning skate, Dineen called the team into one corner of the ice and gathered them close.
Rookie Erik Gudbranson, Dineen said, would be staying with the Panthers after his nine-game tryout was completed later that night.
Teammates celebrated by banging their sticks on the ice and taking turns putting the 19-year-old in good-natured headlocks. Wayne Gudbranson, Erik's father, watched from the stands. When some came up to congratulate him, the elder Gudbranson couldn't speak, his eyes welling with tears.
More than 25 friends and relatives were expected to attend Thursday's game.
“Definitely knowing I'm part of this team now and staying for the year is just awesome,'' said Erik, who hails from the Ottawa area.
General manager Dale Tallon said Wednesday that it was likely that Gudbranson would remain with the Panthers. Florida could have sent him back to his junior team after Thursday's game and the first year of his NHL entry level contract would remain intact.
“I thought it was the right call to let him know, and let him know in front of his teammates,'' Dineen said. “It's great news not only for Erik, but this is a reflection on his family. Nothing is given at this level; you have to earn it. And he has through the past eight games.''
-- Dineen also told us he was going with Jacob Markstrom against the Sens.
And why not?