CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Former Florida Panthers player, 16-year NHL veteran and two-time Stanley Cup champion, Corey Stillman, hung up his skates this week, and he takes on the position of Player Development Assistant for the Panthers.
“I’m excited about that. I get to come in and do something I’ve actually enjoyed the last couple years with helping the kids,” said Stillman. “If you can improve one part of their game, if you can help them with one thing that they make a jump, then obviously we’ve done our job.”
Stillman, who suffered from a concussion last year, and had surgery on both shoulders and knees, walks away from a 1,025-game career highlighted with 278 goals and 449 assists.
“I have no regrets of stepping away from the game. I think it was the right time. Right now I don’t have the edge to play, and I think that’s a big thing for me to move away from the game,” said Stillman.
To assist the NHL Veteran along in his transition will be Panthers Director of Player Development, former Panthers Captain and Stanley Cup Champion Brian Skrudland.
Skurdland, who has worked with Stillman in the past, looks forward to working with him again.
“I enjoyed his professionalism, the way he handled himself both on and off the ice, which is exactly what our job is all about. Helping these kids understand what it takes to be a pro,” said Skurdland. “It isn’t just coming to the rink and spending 90 minutes on the ice, it’s the extra on how to deal with the fans, the media, management, family. So when you’ve got firsthand experience as fresh as Corey does just coming off his playing career, I think it’s a real eye-opener for these kids.”
Both Stillman and Skurdland plan to be available for the players at all times, as they most likely divide between the east and west coast. Stillman, who will be based out of Ontario, Canada, plans on spending a lot of time in San Antonio to watch the junior and college kids, and hopes to join Skurland in South Florida to watch the team play from time to time.
Both former players have high hopes for this coming season, and believe that their combined efforts, past experiences and talented players will bring success for the Panthers.
"When someone asks me what the best experience was of my career, it was definitely winning the two Stanley Cups," said Stillman. "For the kids who have never been to a playoff and kids coming up, you dream of playing in the NHL, to play to win a Stanley Cup. I think you have to take steps, and for this organization right now, that step is to get into the playoffs. Once you get that taste, you wanna get back there as fast as you can.
"Now it's time to put everyone together, put them on the ice and play. It takes time, you need to make changes. And that's what they did, they're a younger team now. Bringing in guys who have scored goals, produced, won cups, and that's a huge part. You try to better your team every year, and they made the first step this summer."