In his fourth season with Florida, Scottie Upshall comes off of one of the best seasons of his career. During the 2013-14 campaign, Upshall emerged as a leader for the Cats and excelled hitting career-highs in assists (22) and points (37).
The 31-year old forward has carried that momentum into this year posting five points (2-3-5) in his last five games and scored a breakaway game-winning goal for his first of the season (Oct. 30). Although his individual success has come early this season, his focus remains on the team as a whole.
“It’s a good part of the season to get the first ten games out of the way,” said Upshall. “You start to get a feel for your team and for chemistry. It’s going good, things are really jelling with our team.”
Named an Alternate captain for this season at the trip to West Point, Upshall feels the leadership within the locker room stems from the team’s veterans both new and old and have had an impact on the team’s play. With a mix of youth and experience within the locker room, a feeling of togetherness as a team is the foundation for a winning culture, which Upshall believes they are creating.
“I think as a group we are really tight,” said Upshall. “We’ve added some really good veteran guys with leadership skills that are very unique. Willie Mitchell, our captain has done a really great job of keeping our core group of guys and our young guys really together, it’s a winning atmosphere.”
The veteran winger has seen his fair share of NHL action throughout his career making stops in Nashville, Philadelphia, Arizona and Columbus before signing with the Panthers on July 1, 2011. Slowed down a bit due to injury in his first season with the Cats, Upshall was limited to 26 regular season games, but was a big part of the Panthers 2012 playoff run. Upshall recorded three points (1-2-3) in the seven game postseason series against the New Jersey Devils.
Sunny South Florida is where Upshall has made his home for the last four NHL campaigns, but couldn’t be more opposite to where it all began for Upshall, Fort McMurray, Alberta. The average annual snowfall in Fort McMurray is 53 inches, but the silver lining is that the long winters offer plenty of time to play hockey.
“It was cold growing up for sure,” joked Upshall. “We played a lot of outdoor hockey in the winter and school months. Those months were filled up with going to the rink maybe twice a day and playing outdoor hockey with my buddies.”
Crediting much of his success to his family, Upshall recognizes the influence that his parents had on him in becoming a hockey player.
“I was given a lot of great opportunity by my parents”, said Upshall. “Both of them worked hard jobs but found time to get me and my brother to the rink and have new sticks and new skates, I really feel like my parents and my family were my biggest influence growing up.”
Playing three seasons for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL and recording 226 points (99-127-226) in 173 games, Upshall shared a special moment with his family after his second season with the Blazers, being selected sixth overall by the Nashville Predators in 2002.
“It was a big experience for me,” said Upshall. “It was in Toronto, I had a lot of my family there, about 50 or 60 people. It was at the Air Canada Centre. Something I’ll always remember is getting called up to the podium by the Nashville Predators, I think David Poile was the one who announced it. It was exciting. Everyone who goes through the draft like that has great memories of it. I would say that along with lacing them up and playing my first game probably are my biggest memories of those days.”
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| KNOW YOUR CATS: Scottie Upshall |
Position: Left Wing/Right Wing
Jersey Number: 19
From: Fort McMurray, Alberta
Weight: 200 lbs.
Born: July 7, 1983 (30 years old)
Drafted: 2002 First Round (sixth overall) by Nashville Predators
Favorite Hockey Memory: First NHL Game
Favorite Song: "Anything by Fleetwood Mac"
Favorite Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy
Favorite Actor: Brad Pitt
Favorite Actress: Charlize Theron
Favorite Book: The Match
Favorite Restaurant in Florida: OB House
Favorite Meal to Cook: Steak and Ceasar Salad
Fast forwarding to the present, Upshall is now a part of the group of veterans and helping young players like Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau learn and become the future leaders of the franchise. Although the season is still young, the positive play of the Panthers has Upshall feeling something special is brewing in South Florida.
“It’s an honor to be a leader on this team and this organization,” said Upshall. “From the top down, from our ownership to our management and our coaches, it’s a tight group of guys. We take pride in coming to the rink and working hard and being a good team and being good leaders. Our young guys are extremely skilled, they want to learn and they want to help our team win.”
“We’re just over ten games in, but we really feel that we have the right pieces and we’re doing the right things. We have great goaltending and with those intangibles, you never know what we can do.”