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Rats Roundup: Comforts of Home

by Peter Rossi / FloridaPanthers.com

Good morning Panthers fans and welcome to the latest Rats Roundup! Catch up on all things Panthers from this week, including uniting for Parkland, celebrating Black Heritage, a new player heads to Sunrise and more.

Sit back, relax, and kick off your weekend with a little Cats news.

Unity for Parkland

On February 14, 2018 a tragedy occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a shooting occurred leaving 17 victims in the wake of unspeakable terror. The school, located in Parkland, Florida, is minutes down the road from the Florida Panthers Ice Den, the practice facility of the Florida Panthers. Just a few more minutes away is the BB&T Center in Sunrise, where the Panthers play home games.

"We are deeply saddened by the news of today's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland," said Florida Panthers President & CEO Matthew Caldwell. "The hearts of the entire Florida Panthers organization are broken by the news of today's events. We are committed to providing aid and support to our community as it grieves in response to this senseless tragedy."

There are some Panthers players whose families live in or near the Parkland area, so the events that took place hit close to home in more ways than one. Even some staff members of the Panthers organization live in the area as well or went to Stoneman Douglas during their high school years.

Video: Stoneman Douglas High School Messages

Once the shooting occurred, the Florida Panthers wanted to show unity and support for their community. Special helmet stickers and jersey patches were created for the players to wear during their recent road trip, which they were in the middle of when the shooting occurred. The Panthers have since announced they will wear the stickers and patches for the rest of this season.

Video: FLA@CGY: Panthers wear patches to honor Parkland

On the night the shooting, the Panthers were scheduled to play the Vancouver Canucks, thousands of miles away from South Florida and their families. They took to the ice with heavy hearts, but managed to come away with a 4-3 victory. A victory that seemed more to do with playing for their community and less to do with hockey.

"It's bitter sweet," Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie said of the win. "It goes to show the character in the room. We wanted to get two points. We talked about getting two points and kind of dedicating this win to everybody back home."

The National Hockey League and its teams also showed support for the Panthers and South Florida by holding numerous moments of silence throughout the rest of the Panthers trip in remembrance of the victims and survivors. 

Video: FLA@VAN: Panthers, Canucks honor victims in Florida

Video: FLA@CGY: Flames, Panthers hold a moment of silence

Video: FLA@TOR: Leafs, Panthers remember Parkland victims

The Panthers went on to finish their road trip with a 3-2 record, coming home to face the Washington Capitals last night for their first home game since the events of February 14th. For what was an emotional night for many, the Panthers went on to defeat the Capitals, 3-2 off a late power-play goal by Vincent Trocheck.

Video: WSH@FLA: Trocheck puts Panthers ahead late with PPG

"This has been a horrific time here in South Florida, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "I know, starting with Vinnie Viola and throughout the Panthers organization, if the team can be a part of unity and bringing people together and even help with a small part of the healing, that will make a difference. That is what they are committed to doing."

Panthers owner Vincent Viola also spoke to the response to the shooting.

"Our priviledge is to steward this team for the benefit of the community, for the benefit of everyone in the community across the county," said Viola. "The Florida Panthers should represent what is the best of our community. So, tonight, hopefully we'll demonstrate that through our demonstration, quite frankly of compassion, try to promote healing and the spirirt we display on the playing ground."

Video: Commissioner Bettman on MSD, Hockey Is For Everyone

For a full recap of the emotional night, click HERE.

The Cats continue their push to a playoff spot when they welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins to BB&T Center tomorrow for a 7:00 p.m. start. Get your tickets HERE.

Luongo's Speech

The Florida Panthers honored the 17 victims of last week's horrific shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland - located just 13 1/2 miles from BB&T Center - last night prior to their matchup against the Washington Capitals. Prior to puck drop, a video tribute remembering the victims of the tragedy was followed by an extended moment of silence in which 17 individual spotlight's bearing the deceased's names slowly faded away one by one. As the camera panned towards Florida's bench, players were visibly shaken, many burying their heads into their gloves to combat their emotions.

Then, Roberto Luongo grabbed a microphone.

As "Luuu!" chants rained down from the stands, Luongo staked onto the ice, stopping just a few feet away from the bench. A longtime Parkland resident and father of two, the 38-year-old goalie took a deep breath before making one final address, the arena's lights highlight his teary eyes.

"I just want to start off by saying that I live in Parkland," Luongo said, his voice growing from shaky to stern. To watch and hear Luongo's impassioned speech, click HERE

Video: Robert Luongo recaps his heart warming pregame speech

Soul On Ice

In conjunction with the Panthers celebrating Black Heritage and Hockey Is For Everyone, a special screening of the film Soul On Ice, which depicts the story of the Coloured Hockey League and the history of Black players in ice hockey in the United States and Canada, was held at Deerfield Beach Elementary school yesterday.

The director of the film, Kwame Mason, took part in the screening of the film and took questions from students. 

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: Creator of @soulonicemovie Kwame Mason screens the film today at Deerfield Beach Elementary School. Tonight is Black Heritage Night at BB&T Center, one of our #HockeyIsForEveryone month events! #HIFE pic.twitter.com/87YTeXEkcd

Tweet from @soulonicemovie: Having a great time showing the film to Deer Field Beach school kids. Thanks @FlaPanthers for always supporting my boy @John_Colombo & @PEbcps @Charmain4PE @SBpvil @BCPSAppLearn @DBESPrincipal #HockeyIsForEveryone @NHL pic.twitter.com/N38vySr559

Join Our Territory

Join the Panthers as they celebrate their 25th anniversary during the 2018-19 season and enjoy all the benefits that come with being a Season Ticket Holder, such as merchandise discounts, exclusive savings on concessions and priority access to concerts and events.

Head HERE to request more info!

30 Days of Giveaways

If you are a Panthers season ticket holder and you have not renewed for next season, don't wait any longer! Renew today and be entered in our amazing 30 Days of Giveaways contest, where great prizes are awarded every day to our season ticket holders.

We have already given away prizes such as enjoying a game from the Panthers Owner's Club Lexus seats, a 2017-18 team signed jersey, 55-inch 4k Ultra HD TV and more!

For a full list of prizes and to renew, click HERE.

Vatrano Heads South

Florida Panthers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Dale Tallon announced yesterday that the club has acquired forward Frank Vatrano from the Boston Bruins in exchange for a third-round pick at the 2018 NHL Draft.

Vatrano, 23, has appeared in 108 career NHL games, producing 31 points (20-11-31). The 5-foot-9, 201-pound native of East Longmeadow, Mass., recorded his first 10-goal campaign in the NHL in 2016-17. This season, Vatrano has posted two goals over 25 games.

During his American Hockey League career, Vatrano has recorded 39 goals and 58 points in 43 games with the Providence Bruins (2014-17).

Vatrano was originally signed by the Bruins as an undrafted free agent on March 13, 2015. 

Tweet from @Frank_Vatrano: Thanks you @NHLBruins for a great 3 years i will never forget them! Excited for a new start with the @FlaPanthers! ������#panthers

Quick Hitters

- Aleksander Barkov is gaining recognition as one of the best two-way forwards in the league, as game film only helps to reinforce

- The Cats have signed Colton Sceviour to a three-year contract extension.

"I've enjoyed my time here. There's also definitely some comfort. I saw what this team is capable of and the direction that we're heading. Looking into the future over the next three years, I was really excited to have the opportunity to be a part of that. It was a big selling point for me."

 - Aleksander Barkov is excited totravel to Finland next season to play two regular season games against Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets.

- AHL All-Star Alex Grenier is enjoying his first season in Springfield.

- Take the quiz to Love Your Heart with Cleveland Clinic Florida and the Florida Panthers! One randomly selected winner will receive a two tickets to the March 12 Panthers game and the chance to take a #HeartHealthySelfie with a Florida Panthers Player! 

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