Summer officially came to a close for the Florida Panthers on Tuesday morning as the team held its final informal workout.
Wednesday may as well constitute the team's first day of school.
The Panthers report for the start of training camp Wednesday morning with physicals and meetings with the front office and coaching staff at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.
Florida's first on-ice practice is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday at the Saveology.com Iceplex in Coral Springs. The Panthers are expecting close to 60 players in camp with the team split into separate groups.
One team will likely stick together and play Nashville in the preseason opener in Sunrise on Monday afternoon with the other group playing the Predators in the double-header nightcap.
Florida will play five more exhibition games before the season officially kicks off Oct. 3 in Dallas.
The Panthers are ready to kick things off and put last year's nightmare behind them. Florida finished last in the 30-team league for the first time in franchise history during the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
"Personally, I'm excited to be starting out fresh with a whole new season,'' said forward Tomas Fleischmann, Florida's leading scorer in 2013. "We have a lot of young guys who look pretty good on the ice. It's going to be good to get the camp started.
"Everyone has been here for a couple of weeks already and I think that really shows how much everyone wants to do a better job than last year. It starts now.''
Perhaps the biggest news to come out of Wednesday will be the progress of Florida's injured players from last season.
The Panthers had an array of injuries last season with a number of players requiring surgery.
Although players such as Kris Versteeg (knee surgery in March) and Ed Jovanovski (hip surgery in April) have been skating, they haven't been cleared by Florida's medical staff.
Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov spent all but about two weeks in South Florida this summer after having shoulder surgery. Kulikov says he's been skating for about six weeks but he also needs to be cleared by the Panthers.
"I honestly can't wait. This has been a long summer and I have worked myself into great shape,'' Kulikov said on Tuesday. "I'm excited for training camp to start, for the games to start. I'm seeing the doctor [Wednesday] and we'll see. I feel good but we'll see where I'm at.''
Other players who had offseason work done reportedly include Drew Shore (wrist) and rookie of the year Jonathan Huberdeau (abdominal).
Huberdeau at least used his long offseason to good use. For the first time in a long time, Huberdeau was able to concentrate on off-ice activity and add some bulk to his lanky 6-foot-1 frame. Huberdeau says he put on 10 pounds of what looks like nothing but muscle.
"This has been my longest summer since I started playing hockey,'' Huberdeau said.
"I think everyone worked hard, is rested and healthy. We're all looking forward to get camp started. I used the summer to get stronger. With my injury, I slowed things down but I rehabbed well and did other things. I feel good. I'm ready for the season.''
PANTHERS UPCOMING SCHEDULE*
Wednesday: Report to camp, physicals, 9 a.m. (BB&T Center)
Thursday: First practice, 9 a.m.; Group 2, 10:30 a.m. (Coral Springs Iceplex)
Friday: Practice starts at 9 a.m. (Iceplex)
Saturday: Practice starts at 9 a.m. (Iceplex)
Sunday: Practice starts at 9 a.m.; scrimmage at 9:30 a.m. (Iceplex)
Monday: Preseason doubleheader vs. Nashville, 2:30/7 p.m. (BB&T Center)
Tuesday: Practice starts at 10:30 a.m. (Iceplex)
Wednesday: Practice starts at 9 a.m. (Iceplex); preseason game at Dallas, 8 p.m.
(*) All workouts at the Coral Springs Iceplex are free and open to the public. Starting times subject to change.