By no means was Tomas Fleischmann the so-called 'Iron Man' of the Panthers, but he admits it was tough watching his consecutive games played streak come to a close Sunday.
Fleischmann had played in all of 148 games -- including the postseason -- the Panthers had since he signed with Florida on July 1, 2011 going into Sunday's game against the Lightning.
Yet Fleischmann was so sick Sunday he says he couldn't "hold a stick much less shoot the puck." The Panthers, for the first time since he joined the team, were without No. 14.
"I wasn't close enough to be able to help the team out,'' Fleischmann said after Thursday's practice. "I was really achy, couldn't compete at all. It's tough but those things happen. There's nothing I could do about it. I always want to play.''
When Fleischmann signed with the Panthers in 2011, few could have imagined it would take him two-plus seasons to miss a single game.
The Panthers took a risk in making Fleischmann their (at the time) highest-paid forward when he was signed to a four-year deal worth $4.5 million annually.
Fleischmann, after all, had missed the second half of the previous season with Colorado after blood clots were discovered in his lungs. In the two seasons before signing with the Panthers, Fleischmann missed an average of 43 games.
The Panthers are certainly more of a threat offensively with Fleischmann in the lineup as he led the team in goals (27) and points (61) in 2011-12 and in points (35) last year.
Fleischmann has two goals this season but leads the team with nine points.
"He's played a lot of hockey under a lot of physical conditions,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. "He's an impact player in our lineup and we're better when he's in it at his full effectiveness. He had a nice little streak that was broken.''
PHOTO BY JOE RIMKUS JR./Miami Herald