Welcome to Rats Roundup, a weekly segment that typically starts with a fun blurb singing the praises of Friday - everyone's favorite day - but we're throwing you a changeup this week.
This week, Friday takes a backseat in the "Best Days of the Week Power Rankings™" to Saturday - and for good reason. Folks, tomorrow is going to be a fun one.
Need plans tomorrow? Perfect, we've got you covered.
(Alternatively: if you do have plans, cancel them, we've got better ones for you.)
Head on over to the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs tomorrow for this year's iteration of HockeyFest! Four hours of equipment demos, street hockey, food trucks (!!!), music, video games and even a player appearance!
"But, Rats Roundup author," you may be wondering, "how much does entry cost to this spectacular event?"
Good question, inquisitive reader! The answer is zero dollars. Full event details can be found at this link.
Speaking of free events, we've got an Open House coming up in two weeks - so make sure to stop by that as well!
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
The Panthers launched a new community-focused program this year, and the results were nothing short of staggering.
The Florida Panthers Foundation Community Champions Grant Program, presented by Moss Construction and the Moss Foundation, recognized a new charitable organization at each Cats home game this season, and presented each with a check to help their cause. The final result? Roughly a million dollars of contributions to the South Florida community.
While the monetary component may grab the most attention, the organization says it's all about the relationships and the message.
"We didn't want a situation where we were just cutting checks to people," Panthers President & CEO Matthew Caldwell said. "We really wanted to build relationships with these charitable organizations. We wanted them to believe in us and believe in our brand and what it represents. We wanted them to become part of our family."
This isn't a one-year thing, either. The organization has committed to four more years (and a $5 million total commitment) for this program.
This year's IIHF World Championships kick off today over in Europe, and four Panthers will compete for their nations.
Nick Bjugstad (USA), Denis Malgin (SUI), Michael Matheson and Jason Demers (CAN) will represent the Cats and their countries in this year's tournament. We'll have full coverage on FloridaPanthers.com for those looking to follow along. In fact, we've already published a full preview, and we have a landing page to follow all the action.
Matheson, a literal World Champion by merit of his performance for Canada last year, chatted about his excitement for the tournament (as well as his performance this season for the Cats) with our own Doug Plagens.
Video: One-on-One: Michael Matheson
Matheson dominated international ice last summer, as he was named the tournament's top defenseman. Matheson's Canada squad toppled Finland, a squad led by Aleksander Barkov and Jussi Jokinen, in the finals.
- Dale Tallon joined NHL Network to discuss the organization's direction.
- Jason Demers does one heck of a Chewbacca impression.
- Stanley C. Panther goes back to school to support FloorBall!
- Shawn Thornton answered some questions about the end of his playing days for NHL.com.
- Speaking of Thorty, you can win a signed jersey, courtesy of the NHL Store in New York City.