Of course, foremost on our minds yesterday was the 10th anniversary of 9/11, as well as the tragic and recent loss of so many members of the hockey family, specifically in last week’s KHL plane crash.
Among those that were lost recently were members of the Panthers family including Wade Belak, Ruslan Salei, Alexander Karpovtsev and Karlis Skrastins. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the people and families affected by these tragedies.
While sports can do little to dull the pain of these losses, they can be a needed distraction, particularly in tough times. And last night was an exciting time for Panthers fans as many of the Cats’ stars of the future took an exciting 4-2 win over the Lightning rookies.
There was talent in abundance on display including the offensive skills of 2011 No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Huberdeau
, the defensive tenacity of 2010 No. 3 overall pick Erik Gudbranson
, and the solid goaltending of Swedish netminder Jacob Markstrom
. Clearly the Panthers prospect cupboard is full of incredible talent thanks to the work of General Manager Dale Tallon and his brilliant scouting staff.
Rookie camp will continue for the next four days including a pair of noon games against Nashville on Tuesday and again versus Tampa on Wednesday at the Iceplex. On Saturday the rookies will give way to the veterans as new Cats such as Brian Campbell
, Kris Versteeg
and Scottie Upshall
take the ice for their first official practice as part of Training Camp Presented By Sheets Energy Strips.
It was an incredible offseason for our organization with the acquiring of ten new players and the hiring of new head coach Kevin Dineen, and I am sure that our fans are excited to finally see what this team looks like on the ice together. They will get their first true glimpse of game action during Hockey Day In South Florida on Monday, Sept. 19 when the Cats host a historic preseason doubleheader against the visiting Nashville Predators at the BankAtlantic Center.
It’s going to be an incredible atmosphere that takes last year’s Hockey Day In South Florida to the next level with two games and a bevy of interactive games, autograph and meet and greet opportunities and more.
As we continue to count the days until the Panthers season opener on Oct. 8 at the Islanders, and finally Opening Night on Oct. 15 against Tampa, it’s hard for me to remember a more exciting and more anticipated Cats season than this one. For that, we have our fans to thank, but also the leadership and vision of our owner Cliff Viner, as well as the incredible blueprint that was put in place and activated by General Manager Dale Tallon and his staff.
I can literally feel the excitement growing each and every day with our staff, our fans, our partners, and everyone that’s involved with this organization. It has the feeling of a wonderful and historic time to be close to the Florida Panthers franchise, and I for one am excited to be a part of it. I hope you are too.
Follow me on Twitter at @PanthersYormark
. Thanks for reading and go Panthers.