FORT LAUDERDALE – Anthony Stolarz is hard to miss.

In addition to being a towering figure between the pipes at 6-foot-6, the Florida Panthers goaltender sports unique red pads that gobble up glances nearly as much as opposing shots.

But, more than anything, it’s been his play that’s turned heads.

Joining the Panthers on a one-year contract this past summer, the 30-year-old veteran has been providing steady starts in support of all-star Sergei Bobrovsky, posting an 8-5-2 record with a 2.11 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 16 appearances this season.

He’s also saved 4.6 goals above expected, per

“I want to be someone the team can count on when my name’s called,” Stolarz said.

Following a recent practice at the Baptist Health IcePlex, I had a chance to catch up with Stolarz to talk about his transition to the Panthers, how he spent his downtime during the break and more.

OLIVE: How much have you been enjoying your first season in South Florida?

STOLARZ: Things have gone really well. You get here and the team was extremely welcoming. You could tell right away that this was a great group of guys. You can see why they had the success they had last year when you come in and see how hard they work. It kind of makes you just want to up your game that much more to match their intensity and compete. Obviously if you look at our record, it’s pretty darn good. It’s just the beginning, but we’re excited for the home stretch.

OLIVE: Speaking of last season’s success, how much did the possibility of joining the reigning champions of the Eastern Conference influence your decision to sign here?

STOLARZ: It absolutely did. The last few years I’ve been on teams that were kind of near the bottom of the league. To have the opportunity to come to a team that’s had a lot of success lately meant a lot for me. At the end of the day, it’s your dream to compete for the Stanley Cup. That’s one of the reasons I signed here. I thought this team was extremely talented and was hoping that I could be a piece of that puzzle.

OLIVE: Even before your first start as a Panther, you caught the attention of fans in the preseason with your eye-popping pads and chrome mask. After you signed your contract, how quickly did the wheels start turning on what your gear would look like?

STOLARZ: First, I have to say that Teddy (head equipment manager Teddy Richards) reached out to me like a day or two after I signed and sent out some fresh gear for me: workout shirts, shoes, sandals, bags, skate guards and stuff like that. For a team to do that, it meant a lot to me to rep my new team while I was working out in the summer. As for my [goalie] gear, I knew I wanted to stay color based. I called Tally (goaltending coach Rob Tallas) to make sure that was OK, and he was on board with it. I just started going through the website designing with different colors and this is what I came up with. I’m pretty happy with it.


OLIVE: What’s the backstory on the mask?

STOLARZ: I’m pretty unartistic *laughs*\]. [DaveArt painted my mask over in Sweden and I kind of let him have free rein of it. He kind of does his own thing. The only thing I wanted was that chrome look. I kind of started that a year ago and wanted to stick with it.

OLIVE: It really pops.

STOLARZ: Yeah, I wanted to stand out a little bit. I get a lot of compliments from goalies around the league. When you’re getting that, it’s obviously a good thing.

OLIVE: Speaking of other goalies, you’ve spent a lot of time next to Sergei Bobrovsky this season. What have you been able to pick up from the former Vezina Trophy winner?

STOLARZ: I think the biggest thing has been his work ethic. He’s always out there 20-30 minutes before practice just working on his craft. It’s great just being able to pick his brain. He’s had a lot of success in this league, and you like to turn to your goalie partner for just little things like crease movement. Gear is another thing I’ve talked to him about. I’ve even changed a couple things just based on his recommendations and how his setup is. I think it’s good to pick up as much as you can from not just him, but from every other goalie.

OLIVE: One thing the Panthers certainly have no shortage of is goaltending brains to pick from. As a new guy, how much have you benefitted from being able to work with the organizations’ Goaltending Excellence Department led by Roberto Luongo?

STOLARZ: I think it’s the first team I’ve been a part of where there’s been a guy over the development coach and over the goalie coach. I think it’s a resource that we should use and we’re pretty fortunate to have a Hall of Famer like Lu overseeing that. You’ve also got François Allaire with a great track record. I think being able to lean on those guys and get different perspectives is great. Of course, we lean on Tally a lot and he’s been amazing. To work with him, he’s someone that understands what I’m going through and this role where you’re playing sporadically but always have to be ready. The drills he does and the way he prepares me, it’s meant a lot to me.


OLIVE: You got to head into the All-Star break on the heels of a big win on Long Island. As the final recharge before the season ramps up, how did you spend your time off?

STOLARZ: I went home, so it was nice to see friends, family and whatnot.

OLIVE: Home is New Jersey, right?


OLIVE: Did you go right from Long Island to New Jersey?

STOLARZ: Yeah, I was home and in bed by 12:15 a.m. after the Islanders game. My parents drove up and picked me up from UBS Arena. They were waiting for me on the loading dock as soon as I got out. I’m very fortunate to have wonderful parents that would do that for me.

OLIVE: Did that kind of take you back to the peewee hockey days?

STOLARZ: Oh man, yeah [laughs]. My parents loved it. They miss those days.

OLIVE: How’d you spend the time at home?

STOLARZ: I actually brought my gear home. I skated with the New Jersey Titans, a Junior A team back home. It’s exciting. They’re always asking me questions. I work out there in the summer, so I see a lot of the guys. I appreciated them letting me get on with them. My trainer from back home was there, too, so I was able to work out. It was a break, but at the same time I knew I was playing that first game back and wanted to stay sharp.

OLIVE: Looking ahead, how excited are you to be a part of this push to the playoffs?

STOLARZ: It’s definitely going to be something new for me, but at the same time I’m up for the challenge. It’s exciting to be a part of. These guys went to the Stanley Cup Final last year, and they’re hungry and champing at the bit to get back to the playoffs and get things rolling and compete again for another chance to win it all. For me, I just want to go out there, match Bobby’s intensity and just kind of be someone the guys can rely on in net.

Stolarz stops Novak's chance on the power-play.

OLIVE: Off the ice, how’s the transition to South Florida been?

STOLARZ: The weather aspect is really nice. It’s nice being in the warm weather and being able to wear shorts and sandals year-round. I’m loving Florida so far. I live right on the water. It’s nice to get fresh air, walk on the beach. There’s also lots of good restaurants here.

OLIVE: Are you a slides or sandals guy?

STOLARZ: San… hmm … slides guy.

OLIVE: Going back to the restaurants, do you have any favorite spots yet?

STOLARZ: I like Dune. Strikers, I think it’s called, as well. Big fan of the grilled octopus at Dune.

OLIVE: Is there a specific group of guys that you tend to hang out with away from the rink?

STOLARZ: I think one of the great things about our team is that there’s really no clicks. You can go out with three guys one night and then three different guys the next. We’ve got a really tight-knit bunch. It’s great to know everyone a little bit more. When you’re out, you get to see different sides of guys. You can tell we’re a close group with the way that we stick up for each other on the ice. I think it’s a good recipe for a championship team.