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4 posts from August 2015

August 24, 2015

ROOKIE INITIATION: Panthers to take part in Lightning rookie tournament in Estero Sept. 12-15

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Panthers will take part in a four-team rookie tournament across the Everglades in Estero on Sept. 12-15.
The team will report to Coral Springs on Sept. 10 with a practice at the Panthers IceDen on the 11th.
Those who will participate include Rocco Grimaldi, Michael Matheson and 2015 first-round pick Lawson Crouse.
The Lightning will host the four-team event with the Panthers, Nashville and Washington also participating.
The Panthers will have a total of 25 players participating in the tournament/rookie camp with 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders.

The roster

62 Darik Angeli*

50 Chase Balisy
86 Connor Brickley
67 Lawson Crouse
23 Rocco Grimaldi
8 Jayce Hawryluk
72 Stephen Johnston*
81 Zac Larraza*
82 Denis Malgin
98 Lukas Lofquist*
70 Stephen MacAulay*
92 Kyle Rau
85 Nick Sorkin*
84 Lukas Sutter*
83 Kyle Becker*
76 Mike Boivin*
80 RJ Boyd*
96 Josh Brown
74 Evan Fiala*
56 Michael Matheson
88 Thomas Schemitsch
52 MacKenzie Weegar
31 Sam Brittain
90 Samuel Montembeault
60 Colin Stevens
* Indicates tryout

The schedule (all games are at Germain Arena and are free and open to the public):
Saturday, Sept. 12
Florida v Washington, 3 p.m.
Nashville v Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 13
Nashville v. Florida, 3 p.m.
Tampa Bay v. Washington, 7 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 14
Florida practice, 10:30 a.m.-noon
Tuesday, Sept. 15
Washington v. Nashville, 10 a.m.
Florida v. Tampa Bay, 2 p.m.

BACK ON THE ICE: Florida Panthers facility in Coral Springs back in operation as players prepare for upcoming season

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Monday was the first day of school for most youngsters in South Florida.
That means hockey season isn't far away.
The Panthers hold training camp later next month and the team's training facility in Coral Springs was open for business Monday morning.
More than 20 players were on the ice for an informal workout led by former Florida winger Marco Sturm -- who now coaches with the Jr. Panthers and is also the new coach of the German national team.
These practices are a great way for players to get in game shape before training camps open in the coming weeks.
Although there were plenty of shooting and passing drills, getting ones skating legs back is the main goal.
The Panthers' first practice of training camp is Sept. 18 with their first preseason games two days later in Nashville.
Because of the abbreviated schedule, players know training camp is no longer a time to get into shape. They need to be ready to go once the first whistle blows.
"I wish the season didn't end because then you wouldn't have to go through all this,'' Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov said with a grin.
"It's tough to get back into shape, get back to skating. Once you get going, it's fun again. Right now, though, it's tough. I've been working out but I haven't been skating. My goal, now, is to lose a few pounds so I'm lighter, quicker and have more endurance. I know with the new overtime rules, I need to be fresh to give us an advantage.''
Monday's workouts included current Panthers such as Kulikov, Roberto Luongo, Derek MacKenzie and newcomer Reilly Smith.
Luongo, as is his custom, works out earlier in the morning with just a few players -- including former Florida forward Radek Dvorak -- taking part in his session.

A number of NHL players who make their offseason homes in South Florida took part in the main workout including Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson and Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov.
The informal sessions will continue through the start of training camp with more and more members of the Panthers joining as camp gets closer.
Players such as Anderson will eventually head north to join their teammates in preparation for their camps.
"To be honest, this is the worst time of the year,'' Luongo said. "Not only are we skating now, but you're still going to gym, working out every day. It's a lot of work. August is the toughest month because you're doing so much. It lends for some pretty long days. The fun part is being on the ice, knowing it's getting close. But I think this month is more important than training camp because of the work being put in.''
Other skaters taking advantage of the group setting included college, junior and minor league players such as former Florida forward Nick Tarnasky and defenseman Jaycob Megna, a Plantation native who plays in the Anaheim organization.
"It's tough, in a way, because we're trying to get back to feeling like ourselves,'' MacKenzie said.
"We have three weeks until our first scrimmage and it's tough to simulate game situations. Time gets a little long. We're ready to get back at it. It's time to get ready.''
Smith is one of the few new faces on the Panthers this season and arrived in town earlier than many of his teammates.

Acquired in a deal with Boston in July, Smith flew in on Sunday and was in the team locker room for the first time Monday morning.
Getting to town early should help Smith acclimate himself not only his new teammates, but get used to the area he'll call home as well.
"It's good to come in here and get a practice in,'' said Smith, who was traded for Jimmy Hayes.
"This seems like a nice place. This has been a good transition. I planned on going to Boston early and then I got traded. So I'm excited to be down here, be on the ice and see some new faces.''
The most productive work of the day came from the two goalies on the ice.
Anderson and Parkland's Matt Greenfield saw plenty of pucks during the hour-plus workout -- which was just fine with the former student at nearby Stoneman Douglas High School.
"I'm sure Anderson wasn't too happy,'' Greenfield, 20, said. "But it was good for me.''
Greenfield was joined on the ice by Davie's Mason Kohn, who was a teammate of Greenfield's with the Kitchner Rangers last year -- the Canadian junior team now coached by former Panthers defenseman Mike Van Ryn.

Greenfield, who will play for Nebraska's Tri-City Storm in the USHL junior league this season, said being tested by NHL players so close to home should benefit him as he prepares for his upcoming season.
"You grow up watching these guys so it's really cool to come out here and play with them,'' Greenfield said. "I saw a lot of shots out there that are better than what I will probably see later on. It really should help me ease into my camp. I won't be seeing 30-goal NHL scorers after this.''


August 20, 2015

NEW VOICE IN SUNRISE: Panthers act quickly, hire Doug Plagens from Cleveland's AHL team

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Panthers didn't take long in finding a radio replacement for Randy Moller.
Just a week after Moller was moved to the television side, Florida hired Doug Plagens to be the team's new radio voice.
"We have a rising, young superstar that South Florida hockey fans are going to love,'' Moller said.
"Not only with his on-air personality and the way he calls a game but the way he is integrated with the fans and the media and the organizations he's been with. He's going to be a big part of our organization.''
Plagens, 30, has spent the past four seasons calling games for Cleveland's Lake Erie Monsters -- which had been a Colorado affiliate.
Prior to that, Plagens called ECHL games in Boise, Idaho.
Plagens also did radio work in Cleveland covering the AFL Gladiators, which like the Monsters, is owned by the Cavaliers.
"It has been my lifelong goal to call games in the NHL,'' Plagens said. "This is a great place to do it."
According to Moller, the Panthers got 120 applicants for the job. Moller said "very few" were considered.
"We knew what we wanted,'' Moller said. "We were looking for someone specifically who is a rising young star, very talented, can multitask and be involved in social media. As soon as we heard Doug's tape, we did some research.''
Plagens heard about the opening last Wednesday via Twitter after it was announced Moller was moving to television.
By Monday, Moller and co-owner Doug Cifu had listened to Plagens' audition tape and made contact.
The team hired Plagens on Wednesday.
"We made the decision very quickly,'' Moller said.
Don't expect Plagens to continue Moller's tradition of using movie lines and pop culture references in his goal calls.
"Randy was awesome and you can't duplicate what Randy did,'' Plagens said. "I hope to bring the same enthusiasm to the games every time I'm on the mic.
"This is the best job in the world. I want to make everyone enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoy calling it. There's nothing else I would rather do. I want everyone to be as excited about the team as I am.''


August 12, 2015

CHANGES ON TV, RADIO: Randy Moller moves to Fox Sports, replaces Billy Lindsay ... Panthers to be part of rookie tournament in Estero


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Florida Panthers made some changes on their broadcast team, moving long-time radio voice Randy Moller to the television side replacing Billy Lindsay.
Moller will host the Panthers' pre and postgame shows on Fox Florida as well as serve as in-game analyst. Steve Goldstein (play-by-play) and Denis Potvin (color analyst) return.
"I didn't go looking for this, I was very comfortable on radio,'' said Moller, who has been part of the Panthers broadcasts in some capacity for 17 years but has been the solo radio voice the past six seasons.
"But I'm very honored Fox Sports and the ownership were very passionate about getting me on television. Although it was a little difficult decision, at the end, it was the best decision for me and the team. I'm excited about being a part of it. It will be a different challenge but I'm ready for it.''
Team executive Peter Luukko said Fox had interest in Moller moving to the television side. The team is currently looking for a new radio voice with Luukko expecting it to pull plenty of national attention.
The Panthers are expected to continue to have one radio voice although the team wants to have rotating guest analysts.
Lindsay, whose Fox contract wasn't renewed, would be an option to do radio work as he teamed with Moller in the past.
"Randy has been very successful on radio but Fox really thought he could be a big part of our television team,'' Luukko said. "And I agree. Randy has a lot of life to him, has a great relationship with our fans. He's fun and he'll have a fun time with our broadcasts.''
-- Luukko said the Panthers will not be going to the United States Military Academy in West Point this preseason although plans are for the team to return there in the future.
The team held a few practices at West Point -- where owner Vinnie Viola attended in the 1970s -- prior to last year's season opener in Tampa.
-- Although it doesn't appear the Panthers and RFA Jonathan Huberdeau will get anything done contractually until September, Luukko is optimistic something can get done this month.
-- The Panthers will hold rookie camp across the Everglades in Estero this season. Florida will join Nashville, Tampa Bay and Washington for a rookie tournament at Germain Arena (about a 75 minute drive from the Sunrise arena).
Here is the release from the Lightning:
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning will host a four-team rookie tournament at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida from Saturday, September 12 through Tuesday, September 15, the team announced today.
Participating in the six-game tournament will be the Lightning, the Nashville Predators, the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals.
The rosters will feature some of the top young talent the respective teams have to offer. It marks the first time the Lightning have hosted a rookie showcase, while the team’s prospects have previously participated in rookie tournaments hosted by the Predators in Nashville, Tennessee, the Panthers in Coral Springs and the Detroit Red Wings in Traverse City, Michigan.
Below is the game schedule:

Saturday, Sept. 12
3:00 p.m. - Florida @ Washington
7:00 p.m. - Nashville @ Tampa Bay

Sunday, Sept. 13
3:00 p.m. - Nashville @ Florida
7:00 p.m. - Tampa Bay @ Washington

Tuesday, Sept. 15
10:00 a.m. - Washington @ Nashville
2:00 p.m. - Florida @ Tampa Bay
All games are free and open to the public. Further media information will be available at a later date.