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Back To Practice

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
By Dave Joseph for

CORAL SPRINGS – With only nine days remaining until the start of the regular season, the Panthers returned Wednesday to IncredibleIce for the first time since embarking on an eight-day, six-game trip across Canada.

The Panthers went through a spirited, 90-minute practice under coach Peter DeBoer.

“We wanted to do a couple things, we wanted to get some tempo out there,” DeBoer said. “We ran about 50 minutes of practice then, obviously, came back out and worked on special teams.

“We haven’t had the opportunity yet to get into any system stuff on the ice. While we were on the road trip we did some video sessions in Calgary, but this is the first time we actually had a chance to slow things down, get into our defensive zone coverage and our forecheck.”

Three players did not participate Wednesday in practice – Stephen Weiss (groin), David Booth (groin) and Nick Boynton (strained oblique).

DeBoer said Booth, who skated before practice, is “real close (and) will probably jump into practice tomorrow.” Boynton, who rode the bike, is “close” and Weiss is “feeling better.”

Practice resumes Thursday at 11 a.m.


In light of Roberto Luongo being named captain of the Canucks – the first goalie to be named captain since Montreal’s Bill Durnan in 1947-48 - DeBoer was asked his feelings on the subject.

“I’ve coached a lot of teams where your goalie could be wearing a letter for you,” DeBoer said. “I’ve never been a big believer in it, but that doesn’t make it right or wrong. I think Tomas (Vokoun) is one of our leaders regardless of whether he’s your captain or assistant captain.”

DeBoer said he hasn’t made any decisions on who the team’s captain will be, whether he’ll rotate the ‘C,” or roll with three alternates.

“I’m going to take my time,” he added. “I want to make sure it’s the right the decision. We’re going to have a leadership committee regardless of whose wearing letters. That will be a bigger group and, hopefully, they’ll play a part in that, too.”

GM Jacques Martin has been happy with what he’s seen of the Panthers’ younger prospects, including those sent to the team’s American Hockey league affiliate in Rochester (N.Y.).

Starting in goal, Martin said Chris Beckford-Tseu had a good camp and strong game in Edmonton. He also liked what he saw of the blue line, especially Keaton Ellerby.

“Defense was an area we were pleased with,” Martin said. “I think Ellerby had a very good camp. He played very well. If not for having nine defenseman up here, he’d still be up. But I think the right thing for him is to go down (to Rochester), play, and try to be the best defenseman on our team down there. He showed his speed. He’s almost, as a skater, in the same class as Bouwmeester. He moved the puck well. I thought he showed some good judgment with the puck, good first pass.

Jason Garrison is another defenseman I think will see some ice time here at some point in time. He’s a kid we signed from the University of Minnesota. Great character. I was pleased with what I saw from him. We got some good kids on the back end, with those two and Michael Caruso.”

Martin is also pleased with the four forwards that have returned to South Florida to battle for a roster spot: Tanner Glass, Michael Frolik, Anthony Stewart and Shawn Matthias.

“When you look at the scoring, Anthony Stewart leads in the team in scoring in the preseason,” Martin said. “I think Matthias, Frolik and Glass have all performed well in games they’ve played. We still have some injuries up here and we’re still going to evaluate those people.”
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