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 won’t be making their official return to the ice until sometime next month, but at least one member of last season’s playoff squad is returning home a bit early in order to lend a helping hand in growing the game.
Mike Matheson, a late-season call-up turned integral member of Florida’s blue line during the team’s hard-fought playoff series against the New York Islanders, will be serving as a special guest instructor at the Panthers Ultimate Hockey School, held from Aug. 8 to 12, at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs.
As one of the instructors at the annual summer camp, the 22-year-old defenseman will be working hands on with local youths between the ages of seven and 17 to help develop and encourage their passion and abilities through fun and exciting training programs.
A first-round pick (23rd overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, Matheson, who won a gold medal and was named defensive MVP while playing for Team Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Championship in Russia this summer, made his NHL debut with the Panthers on Feb. 20 against the Winnipeg Jets.
In addition to this professional on-ice mentorship, students will also receive NHL-style off-ice instruction, skill development and conditioning techniques. This pro-style instruction is exclusive to the Panthers Ultimate Hockey School and is not available anywhere else.
Matheson is the second Panthers player to serve as a special guest instructor at the Panthers Ultimate Hockey School this summer, joining forward Logan Shaw, who headlined a very successful camp in June.
“I’ll definitely ask Logan how (his camp) went,” Matheson said. “It should be exciting to get out there with the kids and try to have some fun with (the kids).”
PANTHERS SINGLE-GAME GIVEAWAYS
The Panthers announced today that single game tickets for the 2015-16 season will be available for purchase beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
Looking at the schedule, there are definitely a few games in particular that stand out among the rest, especially if you have the glaring need for a mullet-sporting, record-breaking bobblehead in your life -- I mean, who doesn’t?
Jaromir Jagr Bobblehead Night will take place on Saturday, Oct. 15, when the Detroit Red Wings visit the BB&T Center for a 7:00 p.m. contest. The first 20,000 fans through the doors will receive a bobblehead version of the future Hall of Famer, a miniature likeness that perfectly captures the 44-year-old legend’s famous hairdo.
Let’s not forget, however, that hockey is first and foremost a team game.
In addition to Jagr’s bobblehead night, the Panthers will also be handing out miniature banners to the first 20,000 fans that come to watch the team raise their 2015-16 Atlantic Division Championship banner into the BB&T Center rafters before hosting New Jersey Devils on Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
- More than 500 local kids from area Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA branches descended upon the BB&T Center last week to compete for the inaugural Summer Cats ball hockey championships.
- With a unique blend of size and skill, 6-foot-4, 212-pound winger Lawson Crouse has the ability to contribute equally on both offense and defense, but it all starts with his very general physical approach to the game.
- The Panthers will be hosting “Florida Panthers Learn to Play” in conjunction with the NHL, the NHLPA and USA Hockey. The program is for boys and girls ages 4-8 who have never participated in an organized ice hockey program.