Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment presented by Community Coffee in which we get you caffeinated with an exciting look at the week ahead for the Florida Panthers.
The Florida Panthers IceDen will be hosting its seventh annual Hockeyfest on Saturday. The event gives local hockey fans a unique chance to demo some of the game's latest and greatest sticks, skates and more through an unbeatable interactive experience.
Hockeyfest will run on Saturday May 6th from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will feature exclusive demo opportunities from top equipment manufacturers, including Bauer, CCM, Warrior and True, as well as numerous off-ice activities such as street hockey, music, inflatables and food trucks.
As usual, the event is free and open to the public, but if you'd like to hit the ice, public skating will also be available from 1-3 p.m. for a mere $10 admission and $4 skate rental.
Special guests will also be available to meet all of your autograph and selfie needs!
"It's great to see these guys excited about hockey down in South Florida," Panthers center Nick Bjugstad said at last year's event. "It's a great way to get the kids into it and get the fans into it. To take a few hours out of my day to come down here for that, it was no problem. I look forward to meeting these fans. They're the reason why we're playing and it's nice to be able to thank them today."
We look forward to seeing you there Panthers fans!
CATS HEAD TO WORLDS
The Florida Panthers will have three players attempting to capture a gold medal for their respective homelands when the 2017 IIHF World Championship gets underway this week at AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France and LANXESS Arena in Cologne, Germany.
This year the Panthers are sending a mixture of veterans and newcomers, with Nick Bjugstad (USA) and Mike Matheson (Canada) joined by Jason Demers (Canada), who will be making his World Championship debut.
"I'm honored and lucky to be doing that," said Bjugstad, who helped Team USA win a bronze medal at the event in 2013. "I obviously didn't have a full season, so I'll get some more games in and maybe find my confidence a little. I think it'll be good going over there to play. I'm excited."
The tournament's preliminary rounds will take place from May 5-16, with each team competing in seven matches before the quarterfinals begin on May 18.
The full schedule for Panthers at World Championship this week is as follows:
Friday, May 5
USA (Bjugstad) vs. Germany 2:15 p.m.
Czech Republic vs. Canada (Matheson/Demers) 2:15 p.m.
Sunday, May 7
Slovakia vs. Canada (Matheson/Demers) 6:15 a.m.
USA (Bjugstad) vs. Denmark 10:15 a.m.
Oh, and as for some pre-tournament team bonding, it looks like a little bit of the chemistry that Demers and Matheson showed this past season on Florida's blue line has definitely followed the defensive duo overseas…
DRAFT LOTTERY RESULTS
Now that the ping-pong balls from the NHL Draft Lottery have setteled, the Panthers hold the 10th overall selection in June's NHL Draft.
"For the past month I have been focused on traveling and scouting in preparation for the Draft," Panthers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Dale Tallon said. "Now that the results of the lottery are in, I know that the Florida Panthers will be selecting another highly talented, young player in the top-10 to supplement our core group for years to come."
The Panthers have held the 10th overall selection three times in franchise history, selecting Keaton Ellerby (2007), Michael Frolik (2006) and Radek Dvorak (2005) with the pick. Dvorak, who ranks second in Florida's franchise history in games played with 613, recorded 268 points (113-155-268) during his time with the Panthers.
Tallon represented the Panthers organization at the draft lottery and suggested on Sportsnet that the club could give their first-round pick - if he's "the right guy" - every opportunity to make the club next season.
In addition to the 10th overall selection, the Panthers also own a pick in the second round, third round, fifth round and sixth round of the 2017 NHL Draft, which will take place at the United Center in Chicago on June 23-24.
If you are interested in becoming a full or partial ticket package holder, the Panthers will be hosting a special Open House on Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fans will get their first opportunity to select new seats for the 2017-18 season at the event!
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
It might be the offseason, but the Panthers are always active in the community.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT) --
After spending 20 seasons in professional hockey, including 14 in the NHL, Shawn Thornton is starting to enjoy life away from the rink. (READ MORE)
"A lot of my friends say I'm a lot more relaxed now," Thornton told NHL.com. "It's been a good three, 3 1/2 weeks that it's been. Just at home, enjoying my time off. Starting to work out a little bit again just so I don't get fat. But it's nice to know that I'm never going to have to train as hard as I used to. Now it's just to stay skinny, not to get ready to play at the highest level."