A floridapanthers.com exclusive, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will be sharing his thoughts with Panthers and hockey fans throughout the year in his blog entitled G.M. Journal.
If you’re a Florida Panthers fan and you haven’t been following the World Junior Tournament, then I strongly suggest you do so, lest you miss out on some great hockey, and a glimpse in to the future for our hockey club.
With five prospects playing significant roles for their respective teams – defenseman Erik Gudbranson
and forward Quinton Howden
for Canada, forwards Nick Bjugstad
and Drew Shore
for the United States, and forward Joonas Donskoi
for Finland – the Panthers are one of the best represented teams in the tournament.
Thus far, all five have shown flashes of the skills that could make them important players for us in the future. Both Gudbranson (3-2-5 in three games) and Howden (0-3-3 in three games) have impressed with their two-way play. Meanwhile, Bjugstad (overtime winner vs. Finland, two assists), Shore (goal, fifth in tournament in face-off percentage of 66.67%), and Donskoi (1-3-4 in three games) have all made big plays at crucial moments thus far.
It’s a testament to our scouting staff that our prospects, including four players from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, are not only competing in this tournament, but thriving. As I have said, the draft is a key part of our blueprint for building a successful team, and I’m looking forward to repeating our success at the 2011 Draft in June.
While our future certainly looks bright, our fans have to be impressed with the toughness and determination of our current team. In front of our biggest crowd of the season against Boston on Monday, our team came to play.
Unfortunately a 40-save performance from backup goalie Scott Clemmensen
and goals from Mike Santorelli
and David Booth were not properly rewarded in a 3-2 shootout loss. But it would be impossible to question the resilience of this team through the season’s first half.
Under a number of adverse conditions including injuries and lengthy road trips, we continue to bring a consistent effort every night. I expect more of the same tonight, in front our biggest crowd and most electric atmosphere of the year at the BankAtlantic Center.
I know that many of our fans circle this game on their calendars when the schedule comes out each year, but tonight’s game against Montreal is just the start of a crucial stretch of home games that continues well into January. We’re going to find out a lot about our team over the next few weeks, and the support and passion of our fans will only help as we push for a playoff birth.
In preparing for 11 home games in the next 23 days, the new culture and attitude that we’ve cultivated will play an important role in our success. As we move forward with our plan for building a consistent playoff team and Stanley Cup contender in Florida, the importance of playing well in the second half of the season should not be lost on anyone. Hopefully you will be at the BankAtlantic Center supporting us every step of the way.