Welcome to the brand new FloridaPanthers.com series "Summer Plans," where your favorite Florida Panthers players share what they'll be up to in the months before the 2019-20 season.
This week's Panther: Aaron Ekblad
Q: How much time do you plan to take off before getting back to work this summer?
EKBLAD: It depends on health, mostly. Little injuries and stuff like that need some time to heal at the end of the season. But I played 82 games the last two years, so my health's been good.
Q: How does your training typically progress as the summer rolls along?
EKBLAD: It starts off with more maintenance-type work, which I'll probably start doing in a week or two. That keeps things healthy and builds a foundation for strength. So week or two after the season ends, it's building that foundation. After that, I'll start working on building muscle.
Q: Do you train with any current or former NHL players?
EKBLAD: Well, I train with Lou [Roberto Luongo]. I also train with [Winnipeg Jets defensemen] Jacob Trouba and Dmitry Kulikov, who obviously played here.
Q: Given that's he's already played 19 seasons in the NHL, how much does training with Luongo push you to be better?
EKBLAD: I obviously want to be working harder than him. I want to have those levels and my heartrate a little higher than his. It's important to see guys working out and get motivated, but you also have to have your own self-motivation. I think I have that now and maybe didn't have that my first couple years. My self-motivation to get better and get stronger is burning hot. It's one of those things that won't waver for me for a long time.
Q: Whether it's technical or physical, what areas of your game are you focusing on in your summer training?
EKBLAD: Physical, for sure. I start skating early, so the technical aspect of playing hockey is something that comes with that, playing games, getting experience and watching video. I want to get physically stronger. That's really what's most important to me right now.
Q: You've spent a lot of time with the guys in that locker room this season. Which one of your Panthers teammates do you think you're going to miss seeing the most on a regular basis throughout the summer?
EKBLAD: I'll miss seeing everybody. All the funny times with Yands [Keith Yandle], hanging out with Matty [Mike Matheson], having fun with the guys. At one point or another, you miss them all.
Q: What's the biggest non-hockey event currently on your schedule this summer?
EKBLAD: Probably weddings. We've got four guys on this team that are getting married. I'll be trying to go to all of them, but sometimes it's not that easy, especially if I'm coming from Florida. I'll also be hitting the golf course, having some fun and relaxing. It's a long stressful season, so it'll be nice to relax, for sure.
Q: How nice will it be to reconnect with your teammates at those summer weddings?
EKBLAD: It's exciting. It's good to get guys together. We stay in touch, but we mostly go our separate ways during the summer. Being able to get together at events like that is a big thing.