By Glenn Odebralski for floridapanthers.com
At just before 9am, the whistle blew.
Coming from head coach Peter DeBoer, practice had officially started and with that, the kick off to the 2010-11 NHL season for the Panthers.
With 50 guys partaking in Training Camp at Saveology.com Iceplex, DeBoer and the coaches split the group into two teams with first team starting on the ice and going for an hour and a half before working out off ice while the other group doing their workout first before skating on the ice.
"It was good," said DeBoer of the first day of training camp and the surprises that it entailed. "I think what stood out was the fitness levels, the energy levels of the guys.
"The guys attitude that I think they came back with, with obviously something to prove. I think you can feel the excitement there and that's a good sign."
"It's the first day," said defenseman Mike Weaver
. "Everybody getting the feet under them and kind of getting in the practice environment. I thought it went pretty good. You always want to break yourself in the first day. The second day you come back and feel a lot better."
For the Panthers, it was a long summer, just over five months since they ended their season and that created a lot of anxiousness for the guys.
"I think we've had more guys in town the last two weeks since I've been coaching here over the last two years," said DeBoer. "Guys got back in town early and they had some good skates prior to camp which shows me that it's been a long summer for them too."
While winded after going through their first official skate, all of the players were just to be playing and skating again, gearing up for another season.
"I felt good out there," said forward David Booth. "It was awesome to get back out there, skating with the guys."
"The first day is always exciting," said forward Michael Frolik. "I was excited to wait for the first day and it was good and hopefully it's going to be better every day."
The Panthers will host their first Hockey Day In South Florida tomorrow as it's all things hockey at the Iceplex.
It opens up with a youth hockey coaching clinic, led by the Panthers and Amerks coaches. Then the teams hit the ice at 1pm for a duo practice (one team will be on Panther Den while the second team will be skating on the Mezzanine side) and then at 2pm, the two teams will compete in the Blue/White scrimmage. An autograph session with the players following the scrimmage.
There will also be plenty of other activities going on around the arena with inflatables outside. Admission is free all of the events.
"I think it's a great idea," said DeBoer. "Our staff came up with the idea of having a Hockey Day in South Florida.
"We've got to grow grass roots hockey in Florida here and how we start that is by these types of days. Having training camp down here, having the kids and the coaches involved and absolutely the players pick up on that and it adds to the excitement."TEAM A