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New Florida Panther Reilly Smith begins informal practices at Panthers IceDen

by Mike Lewis / Florida Panthers

The newest Florida Panther Reilly Smith recently arrived in South Florida, joining teammate Derek MacKenzie and others for informal skates at Florida Panthers IceDen. Acquired from the Boston Bruins on July 1, Smith notched 40 points (13-27—40) in 81 games last season.

With a lot of young guys on this roster, you played against a lot of them last season, while in Boston. What were your thoughts about the Panthers as an opponent?

They were a tough team to play against. Everyone in the league thought that. They were pretty stingy, they put a lot of games into overtime and seemed they were winning a lot in the shootout. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this team and this organization because it seems like they are on the up-and-up and it’s nice to see they are honing in on the direction they want to take.

Speaking to your new teammate Brandon Pirri recently, he mentioned how far back the two of you go. Playing together growing up in Toronto, how excited were you to find out you two would be playing together again?

It’s exciting. We had a lot of good times growing up. We played minor hockey for seven or eight years and we had a lot of success doing that. It’s fun to come down to a new city and see some familiar faces. Also Dave Bolland, he grew up a couple of blocks away from me and Shawn Thornton I played with in Boston. It’s nice to have that when you come into a new city and have a little more familiarity.

Have you spoken to Shawn Thornton at all since the trade?

Yeah I spoke to him a little bit. He’s a great guy and a good teammate. It’s nice to have a guy like him on your team. He seems to settle everyone down. He just gave me a couple words once I was traded, but it’s good to have him on this team.

What are some of the things you’ve worked on this offseason?

Mainly just trying to get stronger. It’s just that part of the game I’m always going to have to work on. Everything kind of falls into place, I think I have a couple of building blocks there and I just have to take things to the next step.

You have a lot of speed in your game , that’s something that Dale Tallon had stressed when the Panthers acquired you from Boston. Is that something you feel you can bring every night to this team?

It’s what I plan to do. Every day you want to get a little bit faster and a little bit stronger so those are things I work on in the offseason and hopefully it correlates to the start of the season.

What’s been your favorite part of South Florida so far?

Definitely the weather, that’s something that just jumps out there. That one’s pretty easy. Boston was a pretty crazy sports city, so it’s nice to kind of take a step back and accept it for all of the other things the city has to offer [rather] than just getting shouted at in the middle of the street. It’s a little more undercover here, it’s more laid back.

Do you like to fish? Willie Mitchell, Nick Bjugstad and a few of the Panthers enjoy fishing a bit during the season to unwind.

Yeah, I fish a lot, especially in the summer. There wasn’t much opportunity last year or the years in Boston where you could do that. So it’s nice that you can golf year round and fish all of the time here.

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