Cory Stillman, who begins his first season with the Panthers, recently sat down with FloridaPanthers.com to answer questions from fans as nearby as Miami and as far away as Australia.
Stillman, who has raised the Stanley Cup twice and has scored 20 or more goals in eight of his last 10 seasons, answered questions about moving to South Florida, some of the Panthers’ young players, superstitions, and signing on with the Panthers.Q: The first question comes from Jose Rocha in Miami Springs. How tough has it been moving from Carolina to Ottawa to Florida in a relatively short period of time.Stillman:
“It’s tough and exciting. I went to a team that was the first-place team in the East (Ottawa) at the time. Unfortunately, things didn’t work. I come here to a new team, a new beginning right from the start. And you know what, that’s what you really look forward to.”
Q: From Lauren Stillman of Pittsburgh: Any superstitions or pre-game rituals?Stillman:
“I really don’t have any. I guess you get into habits of putting skates on first or elbow pads. But do I have to do something at a certain time? At five minutes do I have to tie my left skate? No, nothing like that. No pre-game meal. I eat when I’m hungry and not a lot when I’m not. I don’t remember ever having a superstition that I had to do this on this day. Every day is different. Maybe if I found one I’d be a better player.”Q: From Tracy Betts of Raleigh: What advice would you give an 11-year-old son who dreams of playing in the NHL. Stillman:
“I would say just continue going to the rink if you’re playing hockey and have fun and work hard at it. It’s an exciting game and a lot of fun. I think if you go and try to improve every time you go on the ice you have a chance, and that’s what everybody asks for.”
Q: From 12-year-old Matt in Nova Scotia: Who was your favorite player growing up?Stillman:
“Wayne Gretzky.”Q: From Darren in Adelaide, Australia: Since you’ve won two Stanley Cups, explain your decision to join the Panthers?
“Well, I think I decided they’re a young team that’s missed the playoffs. When I say young, they’re young in age and some of them have played four years. So they’re starting to understand more about the game and realizing how hard it is to win night in and night out. I’m hoping and expecting they’ve had enough of being done in April and watching hockey. Hopefully, this will be the year they put it together. I think the real test will be – we have a (preseason) game Monday – but don’t judge in the first two games. I’d say, for us, the biggest thing would be to start the first 10 on a really good note.”Q: From Daniela Dill in Palm City: Most everyone agrees the Panthers need to get off to a good start. How do you accomplish that?Stillman:
“I think it all comes down to practicing. Come and be ready to practice, obviously, You can’t let up because you made the team. I don’t know, I wasn’t here in the past, but you have to work every day to earn your ice time and I think that starts at practice. If you can do everything at full speed maybe you can catch a team that’s not working as hard as you are.”Q: From Ryan from Jupiter: Now that Roberto Luongo has been named captain of the Canucks, will this open the door for other goalies to be named captain?Stillman:
“It could open the door more. You know what, as players, it doesn’t matter. It’s nice to wear a letter. Nice to be captain of your team whether it’s a goalie or a guy who plays the fourth line. You know what? Certain guys are leaders. Obviously, (Luongo) can’t wear a ‘C’ on his jersey. But the coaching staff and management decides he is the guy who runs our ship.”Q: From Michael Sanders of Quebec: How do you see Bryan McCabe doing this year?Stillman:
“He’s a good player. And you know what? He’s coming from an organization, a city, where there’s a lot of things that go on. When you’re in Toronto, you’re under the media every day. They’re there at practice, filming practice. If you can play under that pressure I think you can come down here away from that and have fun playing the game. And that’s the biggest thing.Q: Question from many FloridaPanthers.com readers: How’s South Florida been so far?Stillman:
“It’s been good so far. I like the weather, obviously. I lived one year in Tampa, so I’m sort of used to the weather, where it doesn’t change. But we’re settling in now. I started to skate here in August and hopefully I can skate all the way through June.”Q: From John Kuhn in Pittsburgh: How did you become so skilled positionally and playing away from the puck?Stillman:
“I think it’s just from learning and watching and listening. I was told as your younger in the NHL you learn something new every day and I think I’m getting better. As I get older I understand the game more. Everyone is blessed with different skills. Some guys are speed, some guys are one-on-one players. For me, I guess mine is being able to read the game and see what’s going to happen.”
Q: Question from Roy Kosta in Tampa: What are your thoughts on rookies Shawn Matthias and Michael Frolik?Stillman:
“I think they’ve played well. They’re young kids who are getting an opportunity to play. They’re going to be a big part of this organization whether its this year or next year. If I have any advice for them it’s the only thing they can control is when they go on. When they step over the boards they have to be ready to play and, you know, they’ll great players when they get that opportunity.”