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4 posts from March 6, 2014

March 06, 2014

WELCOME BACK LOUIE: Roberto Luongo Returns to Florida Panthers Practice for First Time Since 2006

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Roberto Luongo spoke of "returning to normalcy" when he practiced with the Panthers for the first time since 2006 on Thursday afternoon.

Aside from his Vancouver-themed green-and-blue protective pads underneath his black practice jersey, it looked like Luongo had never left.

He even dug up his old Pink Panther-themed hockey mask with palm trees painted on it from his closet.

"I'm not used to wearing the red but it was nice to get on the ice and just do what I do,'' said Luongo, whom the Panthers re-acquired in a trade with the Canucks on Tuesday.

"I stopped some pucks, moved around there and had a good time trying to get to know my new teammates.''

Florida originally traded Luongo to Vancouver in a lopsided deal on the eve of the 2006 NHL Draft conveniently held in the Canadian city.

And although Luongo spent countless hours practicing at the Panthers' training facility -- he paid the team out of his own pocket for the privilege -- during the offseason and 2012 lockout, he'd not been allowed inside the locked doors leading to the team's headquarters.

On Thursday, Luongo was finally given access to all the good stuff which included Tim Thomas' old locker stall. The Panthers didn't have a nameplate ready for Luongo yet but that will be ready soon.

"I work out here during the summer but not in this locker room,'' said Luongo, wearing a red Panthers dri-fit practice t-shirt.

"This is very nice over here, beautiful stuff. I've never been over here. It's great. I couldn't believe how nice it was when I walked in [Thursday] morning. I didn't know they had all these amenities in here.''

On Wednesday, the Panthers sent Thomas to Dallas bringing backup goalie Dan Ellis in return. Florida then sent Scott Clemmensen, Thomas' backup here, to its AHL affiliate in San Antonio.

Since Ellis has never played with the Panthers, he didn't have any old gear to bring in as Luongo did. He practiced in his green Dallas pads with matching helmet.

Ellis is signed through next season so he'll be getting some Florida-themed equipment very soon.

"This is a team that has been putting in pieces for the longest time,'' said Ellis, who has a 4-2-3 record against the Panthers in his seven-year NHL career.

"There have been great people around here, great veterans. I think with the new ownership gives stability. In Dallas, new ownership stabilized the team, same in Tampa. That does a lot for you and gives you the ability to grow out. We have some great young players, really good veterans, just picked up a world-class goalie. It's a good place to be.''

-- Dan Ellis photo by KELSEY HINDS/@Kelsey1344



When. Where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560

The series: Buffalo leads 44-30-4

Scouting report: Both teams will have new looks following the trading deadline. Florida has won two of three with its only loss to the Sabres this year coming at home on Oct. 25.





WELCOME TO THE SHOW: Vincent Trocheck Ready to Make NHL Debut with Panthers

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Center Vincent Trocheck is expected to have a number of family members at the BB&T Center for Friday's game against the Sabres as the 20-year-old makes his NHL debut.

The Panthers recalled Trocheck on Wednesday as he led San Antonio in scoring this season. Trocheck replaces Marcel Goc -- who was traded to Pittsburgh, Trocheck's hometown -- on Wednesday.

"I'm extremely excited,'' Trocheck said. "I got the call at 3:30, had to be on a plane by 6. I was there early, for sure. It's a dream come true, my goal since I was 5-years-old.''

Drew Shore was sent back to San Antonio despite playing well with the Panthers before and after the Olympic break.

"This gives Vinnie a chance to come up,'' coach Peter Horachek said. "There's a league rule about how many games you can play before you need waivers. He's done a good job, I like Drew Shore. From the first time he got called up, he approached it with a real professional attitude. He knew he was going to be a fourth liner, knew he would kill penalties. He did it with a passion and had an impact.''



MASKED MAN: Roberto Luongo Breaks Out Old 'Pink Panther' Mask from 2006

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

When Roberto Luongo walked out onto the Panthers' practice ice on Thursday, he had a familiar look.

Well, sure, he spent five seasons with Florida before being sent to Vancouver in one of the greatest heists in hockey history.

Luongo, not wanting to look like Mr. Plain, went into his closet and dug out his old mask from his final season with the Panthers. He brought it with him to practice and had it dusted off and updated a bit.

Panthers assistant equipment manager Chris Moody said Luongo's old mask is fine for him to wear in games for the time being as there hasn't been many changes in technology for hockey masks since the time he left.

The Panthers had a newer white mask ready for Luongo just in case, however, but he showed up with his old one. The team switched out the straps, sweat band and chin guard and his old mask was ready to go.

A new mask is said to be in the works but won't be ready for a few weeks.


TIM THOMAS: Says he Talked to Panthers About Getting Out Before Luongo Deal

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Tim Thomas flew to Dallas on Wednesday night after being traded from the Panthers earlier in the day.

He took part in the Stars' Thursday morning skate before their game with Vancouver -- who coincidentally had former Panthers' Shawn Matthias and Jacob Markstrom working with their new teammates after coming over in the Luongo deal.

Thomas, like Dan Ellis, was wearing his old equipment for his practice. Like Ellis, Florida's red-and-blue color scheme clashed with Dallas' kelly green.

In meeting with reporters, Thomas said he was happy to be on a team contending for a playoff spot and said he talked to the Panthers prior to the Luongo trade about the possibility about being shipped to a contender. The Luongo trade, he said, only facilitated things.

"From the Florida Panthers perspective,'' Thomas said, "they're looking at it as something to shore up their goaltending for a very long time. They did what they thought was best for their organization.''

Thomas told reporters in Boston on Tuesday, however, that he had not even thought about being traded to a contender because it apparently never came up. The thought here: Thomas figured he was coming back to Florida next year and wouldn't be dealt.

Here is the link to the Dallas Stars' website with video from Thomas talking about his first day with the Stars.

It's worth noting that Thomas' season started at AmericanAirlines Center in Dallas as Florida beat the Stars in the 2013-14 season opener.