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Nine: Kicking Off The Season

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Stephen Weiss

Panthers center Stephen Weiss is back for another season of his blog, 'Nine. Weiss will bring you closer to Panthers action both on and off the ice as he talks about his experiences throughtout the 2008-09 season. Nine is in it's second season and can only exclusively be seen on floridapanthers.com

The popular first-round draft pick (4th overall) in 2001, is in his seventhh NHL season, all with the Cats. The Toronto, Ontario native had his second straight 40 point season, finishing with 13 goals and 29 assists in 74 games. He also set a career high in game-winning goals with four.

Well, it was a long summer. Now, with the start of the season this weekend, we’re real excited about getting going.

There’s been a lot of hard work put in getting ready for the season. It’s been a tough training camp. But the boys are ready and we’re looking forward to starting in Carolina where we ended the season last year.

Obviously, we have some new faces this year, a lot of new defenseman which has really upgraded our backend, which is huge for us. It will take a lot of pressure off the goalies. We lost Olli, he’s gone, so we lost some scoring up front and our captain. We’re going to have to find some extra scoring in terms of the other lines and step up in terms of leadership.

But we have a good group. We got some young guys playing for jobs who are great to have around, a lot of energy. And the new guys like Ballard, Boynton, McCabe and Stillman…they stabilize the room big time. I think it’s huge. They’ve been real vocal guys, too. There’s a lot more energy in the dressing room, which has been awesome. Maybe a little too quiet in the past. It feels great. The vibe is awesome. Guys get along really well. I can’t say enough. It’s really cool.

We start in Carolina, but we get to play at home the next night. The home opener is always fun. It doesn’t matter who the game is against. A division game is more important, but the first game is great. It’s a packed house. The place is rockin’ and, hopefully, we’ll get two points at home and four this weekend.

See you Saturday
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