PHILADELPHIA -- Ed Jovanovski and Aaron Ekblad have a few things in common.
Not only were both the first overall selections in the NHL draft by the Florida Panthers, but both are also defensemen from the Windsor, Ontario, area.
On Friday, Jovanovski watched the draft and checked out clips of Ekblad. The Panthers captain came away impressed.
"I think he's going to be a stud in this league for a long time,'' said Jovanovski, Florida's top pick in 1994.
When Ekblad comes south in the coming days, he says he wants to reach out and talk to Jovanovski about hockey, the Panthers, South Florida, whatever.
Not only would Jovanovski welcome a meeting, but he offered a little more on Friday night.
"I have few extra bedrooms so if he wants to, he can crash here with me,'' Jovanovski said.
"Players have extended that kind of invitations before and he sounds like a nice kid. Any way I can help him I will.''
June 27, 2014
PHILADELPHIA -- Here is the complete transcript from Aaron Ekblad's inital news conference after being the first overall pick by the Florida Panthers on Friday. The transcripts are provided from the NHL through ASAP Sports.
June 27, 2014
Q. What's your reaction?
AARON EKBLAD: Honestly, it's pure relief. I have never been a part of such a suspenseful event in my entire life, and I think my parents can say the same. It's a very special moment and I'm very proud of everyone who's helped me get to this point.
AARON EKBLAD: I am. I've said that from the very beginning that I believe in myself and I'm confident, and I think if you don't believe in yourself and you're not confident, you're putting yourself behind the 8‑ball right off the bat. I believe if I work hard this summer I can step into the NHL next year. Obviously I'm going to need a lot of help and it's going to be a learning curve, but I'm confident in myself.
AARON EKBLAD: I did not know. I was freaking out there for a second when he stopped. It was breathtaking to say the least. It was breathtaking.
Q. Did you think he was going to call Sam's name?
AARON EKBLAD: I had no idea. Obviously I was hoping for the best, hoping for my name to be called. But you never want to hope for someone else. But it's a great experience, and I've got to thank the guys here that were drafted, as well, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett, Draisaitl, and I'm not sure if (inaudible) has gone yet, but they're all my great friends and I'm very proud of those guys, as well.
Q. A lot of young talent in Florida. Are you excited to be part of that pool?
AARON EKBLAD: Of course. It's pretty cool. They have a young corps and they won a Stanley Cup. This D corps in a couple years is going to be pretty good, and of course if I'm a part of that I hope to help out.
AARON EKBLAD: Talking with him and‑‑ NHL combine, stuff like that? You know what, they were pretty relaxed. They didn't tip their hat or show any cards off the table. They were joking around with me a second ago and said they knew from the very beginning, but who knows. Obviously they want to look for the best possible option, and if they believe in me, then that's great.
Q. Did they make it clear that they want to win now and that's why they picked you?
AARON EKBLAD: I'm sure that's the case. I haven't had an extensive talk with them, but other than at the combine and stuff like that. But I feel like I can step in next year and make a difference.
Q. How about playing with guys like Gudbranson and Kulikov and mentioned some guys, Olsen and talk about that young corps of defenseman.
AARON EKBLAD: That's great. Obviously that's what I want to see. I want to jump into a young corps where I can help and be a leader within those guys and let them lead me and support me. I think it's a two‑way street that way, and I think that'll help me out a lot next year.
Q. The way this crowd was going tonight, were you afraid you were going to get booed?
AARON EKBLAD: For a second there my dad was like, don't worry about it, it's not you. But that's the way it is. That's hockey, and I think the Philadelphia fans are very proud of hockey's youth these days. Well, why wouldn't you be, right? You want the game to grow, and that's what we're all doing here.
AARON EKBLAD: Yeah, it's pretty special actually that Ed Jovanovski is actually from my hometown and 20 years apart we were both picked first overall. That's a story in its own. I have yet to meet him, and hopefully I do soon and get to talking with him about next year and the Florida Panthers.
Q. Maybe he'll invite you out to dinner. He's got a nice spread.
AARON EKBLAD: I'm sure he does.
Q. Who was here for you tonight?
AARON EKBLAD: My entire family. I don't want to leave anyone out, but a lot of people, 25, 30 people. A couple of my best friends, aunts, uncles, grandfather. My grandma is back home watching right now, couldn't make it obviously. Of course I love her and everyone else that's helped me along the way.
Q. Who was your biggest influence in life?
AARON EKBLAD: I think from the very beginning my dad, he's the first one to put me in skates, and I think the best thing is he never pushed me to play the game. I had passion for it, and from the very beginning once a stick was in my hand and my boots were laced up, I was ready to go and ready to believe in myself and be confident, and of course there was times when I stepped off the tracks, but they're always there to put you back on and dust you off and get you ready to go.
Q. What does a day like today (inaudible)?
AARON EKBLAD: By far the longest day of my entire life. That's obvious. Like I said, I've never been through more of a suspenseful day. Like I said, they didn't tip their hat. They didn't show their cards whatsoever, and that's what made it all the more exciting, and the anxiety was building up there.
AARON EKBLAD: The new coach? I have. I met him yesterday afternoon. Obviously I think he's going to have some great ideas to try and turn this team around and get them winning.
Q. Did you have any advance notice that you were going to be the pick before they announced you?
AARON EKBLAD: No, I didn't. I was sitting there just kind of scared and excited at the same time.
Q. How does the pressure from trying to go No.1, how does the pressure change, the nature of it, from trying to be drafted to now all the expectations that come with being drafted high?
AARON EKBLAD: Oh, it's never ending. There's always a burden of expectation that's always going to be there, but it's what you make of it, that pressure and all that is just motivation for me.
Q. How do you deal with it?
AARON EKBLAD: There's help everywhere, my parents, my brother, all my friends, great support group. I know guys that play in the NHL right now that I could turn to at any point and they'd be able to give me the best advice out there.
Q. Talk about the Barrie Colts.
AARON EKBLAD: The Barrie Colts are such a classy organization. I've been there for three years now. I was the captain of the team in my last year. My teammates over the last three years, I don't want to mention any names and leave anyone out, but they know who they are and they've really helped me. I wouldn't be where I was today if it wasn't for my rookie year, I've got to say Reid McNeill. He turned me into the player I am today because he forced me to talk and forced me to keep my stick on the puck and all that kind of stuff. He was just a really good mentor for me in my rookie year. I've got to name names. Norm Ezekiel, I lived with him my first year. Colin Behenna, Mark Scheifele, Tanner Pearson, guys that you'll see in the NHL now, Tanner Pearson just won a Stanley Cup. It's pretty amazing what these guys have done. Brendan Lemieux this year, Johnny Laser, my defense partner for the last couple of years. Some of these guys are my best friends, and it's so amazing to go through hockey and have that, Dale Hawerchuk as a coach, one of the best coaches around and one of the best players to ever play the game. So it's a classy organization, and I'm proud to be a part of them and be a part of the Florida Panthers, as well.
Q. Given your journey here, do you feel older than your years?
AARON EKBLAD: I have a lot of life experience you could say. I think there's still a lot more I need to learn and a lot more life experiences for me out there for sure.
Q. Did it help you being the No.1 pick in the OHL, as well?
AARON EKBLAD: Yeah, the youngest, the guy under the most scrutiny, it always seems to follow me around. Like I said, that kind of pressure is motivation for me.
Q. (Inaudible) being the first defenseman in eight years to go first in the NHL draft?
AARON EKBLAD: Like I said, that's the burden of expectation, but I chase it. I want that burden of expectation. I want that feel for motivation, and I want to succeed under that.
Q. What will the Panthers see from you? What's your specialty?
AARON EKBLAD: Strong, responsible defense. That's the position I play, and that's what I plan on doing when I get there. Of course I want to contribute offensively, as well.
Q. Did Dale say anything cool to you when you first talked, not like tonight, after the pick? Did he have any words of wisdom?
AARON EKBLAD: Honestly I'll probably remember it later on. I can't remember right now what exactly was going on. I was a little bit blurry‑eyed, but maybe I'll figure it out later.
Q. Obviously when you're going to be a top pick, do you start looking at some of the teams that you might end up going to?
AARON EKBLAD: Of course. You look through who they have on their back end, right or left shots, all that kind of stuff. Obviously I was watching to see if Florida would get a new coach, all that kind of stuff. It lasted a while. It's pretty fun to just follow that after the season. Of course during the season you want to focus on winning games with your club team.
Q. That said, did you follow any of the trade talk or any of that stuff?
AARON EKBLAD: I followed it quite a bit. I think my roommate, Brendan Lemieux in Barrie was all over that stuff. It's pretty funny.
Q. Were guys tweeting you tonight before the draft?
AARON EKBLAD: Yeah, my phone was blowing up all night. I don't remember any of the specific trade rumors. I actually didn't have time to read all the tweets. I just wanted to scroll through them and see how many there were.
Q. Pretty impressive reaction you got in the trade market?
AARON EKBLAD: What do you mean, for people to trade up?
Q. All the teams that allegedly wanted to trade up for you?
AARON EKBLAD: That's cool. I didn't follow it all that closely, but they didn't.
Q. Just looking at the Panthers, what were some of the things you saw in the team as far as where you might fit in.
AARON EKBLAD: Obviously they have‑‑ well, right now they have three right‑handed shots, four lefts. I want to play on that team as a right‑handed shot and I want to play the power play and all that kind of stuff. Of course I'm going to be a young guy and they may have guys there already. I'm willing to step into a role and play a team game. I take pride in being a good teammate and all that kind of stuff. I'm there to learn at first. I'm going to be learning from some great players, some young guys who have just stepped in, some older players who have had storied careers. It's going to be a learning curve for me, and I want to keep that as short as possible so I can start making an impact.
Q. Talk about the fan reaction tonight when you got drafted No.1.
AARON EKBLAD: The fans of Philly?
AARON EKBLAD: Honestly, like I said, I'm blurry‑eyed and I can't remember what happened. Were they excited or what? That's awesome. It's a great experience for me, a great opportunity, and I'm really looking forward to next year.
Q. When we spoke to you before the world juniors you told me you didn't expect to make that team and you told me you had a lot to learn this season. I guess between now and then, what do you feel has been your biggest improvement in your game?
AARON EKBLAD: Yeah, actually before the season even started I said I'd have to have a pretty unbelievable start to play for the world junior team. I thought that was a myth in its own to even be considered for that. So that's a pretty good accomplishment for sure. I worked a lot on my skating. Once you get into a routine of working on, whether it was my shot or my skating after practice, before practice every day, it turns into just something that becomes easy to you.
Q. What are your thoughts on living in Florida?
AARON EKBLAD: I love warm weather for sure. I think you can see the tan on me a little bit. But no, I think there's a lot of things you can get distracted from down there other than hockey, and I want to focus on hockey. That's what I'm there for, and during the season that will be my goal.
Q. What about golf?
AARON EKBLAD: I'm actually not much of a golfer at all, so that's a plus for them.
AARON EKBLAD: Of course. There's certain things I want to do with my career. I actually keep those to myself.
AARON EKBLAD: I've never really been a vocal guy. I have a lot to learn if I want to play in the NHL next year, and even if I am there, I'm still going to have a lot to learn from, like I said, some very special people.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
PHILADELPHIA -- Only twice in their history have the Florida Panthers used the top pick in the NHL draft.
Both times they selected a strapping defenseman from the Windsor, Ontario, area.
Taking Ed Jovanovski 20 years ago worked out pretty well for the Panthers. They hope Aaron Ekblad does as well.
Ekblad became the latest member of the Panthers on Friday as Florida made the 6-4 blueliner the first selection in the 2014 draft at Wells Fargo Center.
"It's exciting. Florida has a young core and wants to win a Stanley Cup,'' said Ekblad, 18.
"This team is going to be pretty good in a couple of years and I want to be part of it. I just want to help out.''
Said Jovanovski: "I think he's going to be a stud in this league for a long time.''
After weeks of speculation that general manager Dale Tallon would trade the first pick, Florida didn't get the deal it wanted and stood pat.
Tallon confirmed rumors Florida had offers from Vancouver and Philadelphia. In the end, Tallon didn't get what he felt was enough to bypass Ekblad.
Tallon said he decided at noon on Friday that Florida would keep the pick and informed Philadelphia -- which had made "substantial" offers as Tallon said -- of his decision.
"We laid out all the pros and cons, what was best for the franchise and by noon we decided to say no to the offers,'' Tallon said.
"Based on what we had, the kind of kid this is, he fits into what we're doing. We have another 6-4 kid with character. We're building this block by block. We're building through the draft. He's a man, a big, strong physical kid.''
Said new coach Gerard Gallant: "We knew the kid wanted to come to Florida, wanted to be the first pick. The kid knew he was coming when he walked out of our meeting. .-.-. Dale entertained all options. But I think he was always going to use it. He wanted that kid.''
Tallon made the announcement in front of what had been a raucous, typical Philadelphia crowd. Tallon calmed down the masses by opening his statement by complimenting the city. In turn, Ekblad was cheered by the large crowd. His father prepared him for the worst, however.
"He said not to worry about it, it not about you,'' Ekblad said. "Hey that's part of it, that's hockey. Philadelphia fans are very proud.''
Ekblad had been paying attention to the trade rumors via social media leading up to the draft, saying his phone was "blowing up."
Tallon kept the suspense going by staggering his announcement, only leaking that the Panthers were "proud to select from the Ontario Hockey League," before pausing for effect.
With other top prospects Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl -- who would go second and third respectively -- coming from the Western Hockey League, Tallon's stall narrowed down things considerably.
"It was breathtaking to say the least,'' Ekblad joked. "I was hoping for the best, hoping for my name to be called. It was a great experience.''
On the ice, Ekblad is expected to compete for a roster spot when training camp opens in September. Ekblad, who said he's never been to South Florida, should introduce himself to the locals at Florida's development camp in July.
Ekblad, the first defenseman to be the first overall pick since St. Louis took Erik Johnson in 2006, feels he's ready to play in the NHL right now.
"I believe in myself and I'm confident,'' Ekblad said. "If you don't believe in yourself, you're behind the 8-ball right off the bat. I'm going to work hard this summer and be ready to play in the NHL next year.''
Tallon said the expectation is Ekblad will be on the team next year although when Florida took Erik Gudbranson third in 2010, Tallon and the Panthers sent him back to junior for an additional year.
On Friday, Gudbranson -- as well as Jonathan Huberdeau -- welcomed Ekblad to Florida via Twitter.
"He's 18 going on 30,'' Tallon said. "Bobby Orr is a great friend and represents him. That helped as well.''
Allowed to enter the OHL draft early as a after being granted the rare 'exceptional player' status by Hockey Canada, Ekblad seems confident enough to make the transition to the next level. Ekblad is one of four to receive that designation and the only defenseman.
But will he return to the Barrie Colts next year or stay in Florida?
"He'll have a wonderful opportunity with us,'' Tallon said.
June 26, 2014
PHILADELPHIA -- Dale Tallon and the Panthers are sitting in a pretty sweet spot.
When the NHL's annual draft opens Friday night, Tallon will either be headed to the podium with the first overall pick or he would have already traded it for some immediate help.
Tallon figures the Panthers will be in a better position whichever way he goes.
"It's going to be a tough decision,'' said Tallon, who said he has received two "concrete" offers for the first pick.
"We've had some offers that are intriguing. One really intriguing one. We'll have a sleepless [Friday] night as we as a staff are going to sit on it, ponder it. If we take the pick, we're excited about that as well.''
For the fourth time in 20 drafts, Florida holds the top pick after finishing 29th out of 30 teams and winning the ping-pong aided draft lottery.
"I like having the first pick but I don't ever want it again,'' Tallon sneered. "But it's nice to have it this year so we can have some fun with it and shop it around. We'll see what people are willing to pay for it.''
Only one time -- when the Panthers took current captain Ed Jovanovski first in 1994 -- has Florida actually kept the top selection for itself.
In 2002, the Panthers traded away the first overall pick to Columbus with the Blue Jackets taking Rick Nash first and Florida sliding to third to grab Jay Bouwmeester.
The following year, GM Rick Dudley again traded the top selection -- this time to Pittsburgh. The Penguins went with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Florida took Nathan Horton.
Tallon could make this a third straight top-pick trade-away for the Panthers on Friday.
A number of teams are thought to be serious contenders to move all the way up -- although Tallon says Florida could simply sit pat.
"Seventy percent we keep the pick,'' he said.
The Panthers need help throughout the organization although they've stockpiled talent over the past few seasons.
That's why Florida figures this year's draft pick could be expendable.
The Panthers are looking for established forwards and defensemen while getting a first round pick in return. Tallon said earlier in the week that he didn't want to drop out of the top 10.
"[The offers] are over an above what we thought we would get,'' Tallon said, although he wouldn't devolve names nor teams. "We have another offer close to it. We'll see what happens in the next 24 hours.''
Aaron Ekblad, projected to be a top-end defenseman for years to come, is thought to be Florida's choice if it holds onto the top selection.
The Panthers, after all, bypassed defenseman Seth Jones last year when it took center Aleksander Barkov with the second overall pick.
"If you get the opportunity here, you have to prove yourself,'' Ekblad said. "Obviously you're not in control of this situation at all. I have no idea what's going to happen or where I'm going to go. The cards of my life are up in the air right now.''
If the Panthers hold pat, Tallon said the decision on whose name he will call out on the big stage has already been made -- and has been for some time.
"I know who I'm taking but you don't,'' Tallon joked to the large media contingent covering his impromptu news conference. "It's not clear cut, but we know who we're taking.''
Thursday was one last chance for the top prospects to try and impress their prospective employers.
Tallon, who met with a number of prospects at the NHL combine in Toronto earlier this month, said he likes what he's seen.
Although this draft is called weaker than in the past, Tallon says he sees strength in its numbers.
"I disagree,'' he said. "It's a very good draft.''
With everyone knowing Tallon is receptive to a deal, it didn't seem like the top candidates to go No. 1 were buying Panthers gear just yet.
Ekblad is considered the favorite to go first with forwards Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett and Leon Draisaitl to go soon afterward.
Yet no one knows what's going to happen, especially if Trader Tallon strikes again at the draft. On Thursday, Tallon said he "loved this time of year.''
"Everyone is weighing the possibilities,'' Reinhart said. "They're all trying to get to know us and you want to talk to everyone. It's pretty unpredictable right now. I'm trying not to think about it honestly. I'm just trying to stay as relaxed as I can.''
FRIDAY'S NHL DRAFT
When, Where: 7 p.m.; Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Net; WQAM-560
Note: Friday will consist of the first 30 picks through the end of the first round. The draft will be completed Saturday at 10 a.m. (Rounds 2-7).
June 23, 2014
Gerard Gallant knows he has plenty of work to do with the Florida Panthers and is wasting little time.
Introduced as the newest coach of the Panthers on Monday morning, Gallant planned on driving to the team's training facility in the afternoon to start breaking down film of his new charges.
"It's going to be a good run,'' said Gallant, who said he was offered the job last Wednesday night and later signed a three-year deal.
"I'm really looking forward to it. I can't wait to start the season.''
An assistant coach in Montreal the past two seasons, Gallant flew to South Florida a few days after the Canadiens were knocked out of the playoffs by the Rangers.
"You always hear a negative from someone here or there,'' general manager Dale Tallon said, "and I never heard a negative word about Gerard Gallant in any capacity.
"He's honest, has terrific character and is a hard worker and is sincere. He also wants to have fun. He's a pleasure to be around. We hit it right off and it wasn't a great time for him. The Canadiens had just been beat out. He could have been a miserable SOB but he wasn't. That's his nature. We have a lot of players who need this kind of coach.''
Gallant, who coached Panthers' winger Jonathan Huberdeau in Canadian junior hockey, sold Tallon on his work ethic, his teaching methods and ability to help turn teams around.
When Gallant joined the Canadiens, they were coming off a horrible season in which Montreal finished 27th in the league.
With Gallant assisting Michel Therrien behind the bench, Montreal bounced back and made the playoffs the past two seasons.
With a lot of young talented players and Tallon heading out to acquire some veterans either through trades or free agency, Gallant said he sees similarities between the two situations.
"You look at their roster and you look at their core players and I think this is a great opportunity," Gallant said.
"The league is so close, the teams are so close together, you can turn things around in a hurry. That's what I see with the Florida team."
Tallon said that Gallant is the right fit for a Panthers team trying to find their way. As head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets for parts of three seasons from 2004-06 as well as junior hockey in Canada, Gallant has experience coaching both veterans and younger players.
"It was very important to get the right guy with the team we have in place,'' Tallon said. "He can teach the young kids and demand respect from the veteran players. It's a perfect scenario; they can all grow together.''
Ownership was said to have preferred Dan Bylsma, who coached the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in his first year and was in the playoffs all six years in Pittsburgh, at the start of the process but Gallant won them over.
After his initial meeting with Tallon in South Florida, Gallant interviewed with owners Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu as well as CEO Rory Babich in New York.
"We're not in the business of doing something because of the financials,'' Tallon said when asked if Bylsma's monetary demands priced him out of the job. "That just didn't work. We're in the business of getting the best fit for our organization and making the best team possible for the long haul. That's how we made the decision.''
Said Babich: "In our first meeting with coach, we were completely taken with him. We looked at where we're at and believe we're on the cusp of doing something special here in South Florida.''
Gallant knew the competition for the job was steep. Gallant doesn't have the coaching resume of Bylsma or other candidates such as Marc Crawford (won the Cup in 1996 with Colorado) and Tom Renney (nine seasons as a head coach).
With that in mind, Gallant sold the Panthers on himself.
A former winger who spent 11 seasons in the league with Detroit and Tampa Bay, Gallant said he worked hard to get the Florida job. This, he said, is where he wanted to be.
Having former Detroit teammate Steve Yzerman, a Hall of Famer who is now GM of the Lightning, as a reference didn't hurt.
"People ask about Dale trying to impress me. I came here saying I wanted this job,'' Gallant said. "I didn't interview for anything else. I worked hard for this job. I wasn't a big free agent guy, just an assistant trying to become an NHL head coach again. When he called me with the news, I was very excited. I'm looking forward to the challenge.''
With Gallant hired, Tallon can now focus on improving the Florida roster. Tallon plans to fly to Philadelphia on Tuesday to continue preparing for the upcoming draft.
Florida holds the top pick after winning the draft lottery although Tallon is entertaining offers for it. Tallon said on Monday that he's spoken to a dozen teams regarding the top selection but he's holding out for now.
Tallon is thought to be asking for immediate help but also wants to remain in the top third of the first round. That leaves nine teams as potential trading partners.
The draft starts Friday at 7 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
"I've had one concrete offer,'' Tallon said. "It was a fair offer. But I may as well wait until the end and see what happens. It'll probably be Thursday night or Friday morning. It's exciting.''
June 22, 2014
The NHL released its full schedule for the 2014-15 season on Sunday with the Panthers once again playing each team in the league at least twice.
The Panthers will open at Tampa Bay on Oct. 9 with the home opener against New Jersey two days later. Florida will end the regular season against the Devils on April 11. The Panthers finish the regular season with a five-game homestand.
Florida will play the bulk of its schedule (30 of the 82 games) within the Atlantic Division. Twenty-four of Florida's games will be against the east's Metropolitan Division and the other 28 come against the Western Conference.
The Panthers will play four games each (two home, two away) against Tampa Bay, Toronto, Ottawa, Boston and Detroit. Florida will play Montreal (three home, two away) and Buffalo (two home, three away) five times this season.
Twenty four of Florida's games will come on consecutive days with nine of those back-to-back sets coming on the road; three sets will be at home.
Florida's longest homestand of the season is seven games against Chicago, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Dallas, the Islanders and Winnipeg from Feb. 26-March 12. The Panthers' longest road trip kicks off 2015 with six games at Buffalo, Washington, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg from Jan. 2-13.
The Panthers will not play from Jan. 20-26 because of the All-Star break. This season's All-Star weekend will be held in Columbus.
-- The Panthers will be home for the holidays as usual, hosting Minnesota, Carolina and Ottawa around Thanksgiving.
Florida will also host a four-game homestand in late December against Pittsburgh, Toronto, Montreal and the Rangers. Florida will play the Canadiens and Rangers on consecutive nights on Dec. 30-31.
The New Year's Eve game will be the Rangers only visit to Sunrise. Florida plays at New York twice (Feb. 2, March 15).
-- The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings make their only visit to Sunrise on Feb. 5. Florida visits Los Angeles on Nov. 18.
-- Goalie Roberto Luongo will play in Vancouver for the first time since being traded back to the Panthers on Jan. 8. The Canucks visit Florida on Jan. 19.
-- New coach Gerard Gallant returns to Montreal -- he spent the past two seasons as a Canadiens assistant -- on Feb. 19.
-- Florida will also play six preseason games with two (Dallas on Sept. 24, Tampa Bay on Oct. 2) at home.
The Panthers travel to Nashville for a double-header on Sept. 27 and also visit Dallas (Sept. 29) and Tampa Bay (Oct. 4).
The Panthers will officially introduce Gallant at a news conference Monday at 11 a.m.
The conference, in which general manager Dale Tallon and CEO Rory Babich are expected to attend, will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Florida.
AWAY TEAM HOME TEAM
Thu. 10/9/14 Florida Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Sat. 10/11/14 New Jersey Florida 7:00 PM
Mon. 10/13/14 Ottawa Florida 7:30 PM
Fri. 10/17/14 Florida Buffalo 7:00 PM
Sat. 10/18/14 Florida Washington 7:00 PM
Tue. 10/21/14 Florida Colorado 9:00 PM
Sat. 10/25/14 Florida Arizona 9:00 PM
Thu. 10/30/14 Arizona Florida 7:30 PM
Sat. 11/1/14 Philadelphia Florida 7:00 PM
Tue. 11/4/14 Florida Boston 7:00 PM
Thu. 11/6/14 Florida Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Sat. 11/8/14 Calgary Florida 3:00 PM
Tue. 11/11/14 San Jose Florida 7:30 PM
Fri. 11/14/14 N.Y. Islanders Florida 7:30 PM
Sun. 11/16/14 Florida Anaheim 8:00 PM
Tue. 11/18/14 Florida Los Angeles 10:30 PM
Thu. 11/20/14 Florida San Jose 10:30 PM
Sat. 11/22/14 Florida Nashville 8:00 PM
Mon. 11/24/14 Minnesota Florida 7:30 PM
Wed. 11/26/14 Carolina Florida 7:30 PM
Fri. 11/28/14 Ottawa Florida 7:30 PM
Mon. 12/1/14 Florida Columbus 7:00 PM
Tue. 12/2/14 Florida Detroit 7:30 PM
Thu. 12/4/14 Columbus Florida 7:30 PM
Sat. 12/6/14 Buffalo Florida 7:00 PM
Mon. 12/8/14 Florida St. Louis 8:00 PM
Fri. 12/12/14 Florida Detroit 7:30 PM
Sat. 12/13/14 Florida Buffalo 7:00 PM
Tue. 12/16/14 Washington Florida 7:30 PM
Thu. 12/18/14 Florida Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Sat. 12/20/14 Florida Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Mon. 12/22/14 Pittsburgh Florida 7:30 PM
Sun. 12/28/14 Toronto Florida 5:00 PM
Tue. 12/30/14 Montreal Florida 7:30 PM
Wed. 12/31/14 N.Y. Rangers Florida 6:00 PM
Fri. 1/2/15 Florida Buffalo 7:00 PM
Sun. 1/4/15 Florida Washington 3:00 PM
Thu. 1/8/15 Florida Vancouver 10:00 PM
Fri. 1/9/15 Florida Calgary 9:00 PM
Sun. 1/11/15 Florida Edmonton 7:00 PM
Tue. 1/13/15 Florida Winnipeg 8:00 PM
Thu. 1/15/15 Colorado Florida 7:30 PM
Sat. 1/17/15 Edmonton Florida 7:00 PM
Mon. 1/19/15 Vancouver Florida 7:30 PM
Tue. 1/27/15 Detroit Florida 7:30 PM
Thu. 1/29/15 Columbus Florida 7:30 PM
Sat. 1/31/15 Florida New Jersey 7:00 PM
Mon. 2/2/15 Florida N.Y. Rangers 7:00 PM
Tue. 2/3/15 Florida N.Y. Islanders 7:00 PM
Thu. 2/5/15 Los Angeles Florida 7:30 PM
Sun. 2/8/15 Nashville Florida 3:00 PM
Tue. 2/10/15 Anaheim Florida 7:30 PM
Thu. 2/12/15 Florida Minnesota 8:00 PM
Fri. 2/13/15 Florida Dallas 8:30 PM
Sun. 2/15/15 St. Louis Florida 5:00 PM
Tue. 2/17/15 Florida Toronto 7:30 PM
Thu. 2/19/15 Florida Montreal 7:30 PM
Sat. 2/21/15 Florida Ottawa 7:00 PM
Sun. 2/22/15 Florida Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
Tue. 2/24/15 Florida Chicago 8:30 PM
Thu. 2/26/15 Chicago Florida 7:30 PM
Sat. 2/28/15 Buffalo Florida 3:00 PM
Sun. 3/1/15 Tampa Bay Florida 5:00 PM
Tue. 3/3/15 Toronto Florida 7:30 PM
Thu. 3/5/15 Dallas Florida 7:30 PM
Sat. 3/7/15 N.Y. Islanders Florida 7:00 PM
Thu. 3/12/15 Winnipeg Florida 7:30 PM
Sat. 3/14/15 Florida Carolina 7:00 PM
Sun. 3/15/15 Florida N.Y. Rangers 5:00 PM
Tue. 3/17/15 Montreal Florida 7:30 PM
Thu. 3/19/15 Detroit Florida 7:30 PM
Sat. 3/21/15 Boston Florida 7:00 PM
Tue. 3/24/15 Florida Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Thu. 3/26/15 Florida Toronto 7:30 PM
Sat. 3/28/15 Florida Montreal 7:00 PM
Sun. 3/29/15 Florida Ottawa 5:00 PM
Tue. 3/31/15 Florida Boston 7:00 PM
Thu. 4/2/15 Carolina Florida 7:30 PM
Sat. 4/4/15 Tampa Bay Florida 7:00 PM
Sun. 4/5/15 Montreal Florida 5:00 PM
Thu. 4/9/15 Boston Florida 7:30 PM
Sat. 4/11/15 New Jersey Florida 7:00 PM
June 21, 2014
The Florida Panthers finally have a new head coach. After a lengthy search, Montreal Canadiens assistant Gerard Gallant was given the job on Saturday.