The Big News: Mike Santorelli comes back from his shoulder injury and will play tonight as he makes his season debut. Ryan Carter will be scratched as will Keaton Ellerby.
“I'm so excited so ready. I've been getting ready for this the past couple of weeks, ever since the season started,'' Santorelli said. “Physically, I have worked out hard on my skating with the trainers and I've gone through some tough practices. There will be a transition, but I'm up for the challenge.''
Now, on to the new guys:
First, Marco Sturm is here and will play tonight. He will wear No. 16 for the Panthers, the first to do so since, well, Darcy Hordichuk.
Secondly, Mikael Samuelsson is not with the team as coach Kevin Dineen says he was given permission to stay behind in Vancouver as he is “nicked up.'' Dineen says it was more beneficial for him to stay in Vancouver and work with his personal trainer to get stronger.
“I wanted him to stay in Vancouver for a few days,'' Dineen said. “He has the opportunity to work with someone there that he feels will really strengthen his core for the season. I feel that's a priority, that he comes in feeling extremely good. Instead of throwing him in with new teammates, a new medical staff, I felt he should take care of his business in Vancouver and come here feeling good.''
The Panthers told me Sturm does not have Visa issues and can not only play in games in Canada but will be with the team when it goes to Buffalo this weekend.
No such guarantee for Samuelsson.
Dineen says it's not an issue.
Samuelsson had to have adductor tendon and sports hernia surgery last May during Vancouver's run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Getting him healthy -- although he has a goal and two assists in five games for the Canucks this season -- is the priority.
“I just want to make sure he continues to get the medical treatment he's been getting and is used to,'' Dineen said. “I felt it was more important for him to stay out there and keep doing that instead of rushing to get here for tonight's game. There's a small window and we'll see him soon enough.''
My thought: The Panthers have plenty of forward depth right now with Santorelli back and both Tim Kennedy and Shawn Matthias playing so well.
So if Samuelsson is banged up, why risk bringing him across Canada if you may not play him anyway?
Especially if his Visa issues aren't cleared up and he's stuck up here when the team goes to Buffalo?
He'll be here soon enough.
That said, Jose Theodore looked good in warmups and has lots of friends and family here. If he starts, well, he's definitely earned it.
“Theo is healthy enough to play tonight,'' Dineen said.
Will he, I asked?
“We'll play coy here. I'm going to think this one out this afternoon and decide closer to game time,'' Dineen said. “They're both workhorses, I have to kick both of them off the ice.''
-- Dineen on Shawn Matthias: “It's all performance based. The way he has played for us lately .-.-. he's becoming a valuable piece for what we're trying to do. The way he skates, made some patient plays. [Saturday] was a great game for him.''
-- Fun with Numbers: Notable players to wear No. 16 for the Panthers include Len Barrie (former Tampa Bay Lightning co-owner was the first but only for two games in the expansion season), Randy Moller (had it second), Craig Ferguson* (before Drew Carey Show and Late, Late Night), Ivan Novoseltsev, Mike Sillinger, Kevyn Adams, Matt Cullen, Nathan Horton and Hordichuk.
Who has worn No. 26? Scott Levins, Jesse Belanger, Ray Sheppard, Dan Boyle, David Nemirovsky, Ivan Novoseltsev, Dan Boyle, Pierre Dagenais, Mike Van Ryn, Steve Bernier
(*) Yes, I know there is another Craig Ferguson out there.
-- David Booth also met the media in Vancouver for the first time since being traded on Saturday night.
Booth will wear No. 7 in Vancouver and I don't know why. No. 10 was available; he also wore No. 12 with Michigan State.
A big Red Wings fan, could it be to honor Ted 'Don't Call Me Billy' Lindsay?
If I find out will post.
EDIT/UPDATE: Booth told the Vancouver media he is wearing No. 7 because his younger sister wears that number.
Esa Tikkanen (who also wore No. 97 during his brief time in South Florida).