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: Mike Matheson
Q: How much time do you plan to take off before getting back to work this summer?
MATHESON: At this time last year it was kind of the same situation. I ended up taking about 3-4 weeks off back then, but this year I think I'm a little bit more motivated to get right back into it. I'll have to force myself to take some time off right now, but it probably won't be for too long.
Q: What's your offseason training regime like? How does it progress over time?
MATHESON: For the most part, the beginning of the summer is more rehab stuff. I had a lot of nagging injuries this year, so fixing those up and getting my body back in alignment is how I'll start. It all gets so out of whack during the season. Then, as it goes on through the months of June, July, August and so on, the training and workload will start ramping up a lot.
Q: Do you plan to train with any other current or former NHL players?
MATHESON: Yeah. We have a good group up in Montreal. Me and [Pittsburgh defenseman] Kris Letang train together a lot. There are also a couple guys that are around from the Montreal Canadiens and then other guys like [Ottawa forward] Anthony Duclair, [Philadelphia forward] Jake Voracek, and so on.
Q: How much does training with other NHL players push you to be better?
MATHESON: It's great. You can spend your whole summer stickhandling around cones, and you can get better at that, but there's nothing like competing against somebody. That's kind of the relationship that me and Kris have been able to foster with each other. We're both super, super competitive. Whether we're in the gym, we'll be doing hurdle hops and I'll tell him that I did this height and then he'll spend the next five minutes trying to do the same. On the ice we'll have scoring competitions and stuff like that. We're always competing against each other.
Q: What's the biggest area of your game that you want to improve this summer?
MATHESON: I'm not too sure. Right now, it's just still so fresh and still pretty emotional. In a way I feel like I need to work on everything. I still need to decompress and then look back at where it all started. That's when I'll figure it out.
Q: When you look at what you need to work on each summer, how much of that direction comes from coaches and trainers and how much comes from within?
MATHESON: I think it's both. You need to lean on the professionals to tell you this is where you're missing this and that. But it's also on you to be able to frankly look at yourself and be brutally honest with yourself. If you can't be honest with yourself and work on what you need to work on, you'll never get better.
Q: You've spent a lot of time with the guys in that locker room this season. If you had to pick, which one of your Panthers teammates do you think you're going to miss seeing the most on a regular basis throughout the summer?
MATHESON: Pretty much everybody. It's so much fun to be able to play for a team with your best friends, just playing hockey and seeing each other of every day. At the end of the year, it's weird. You see each other every single day and then suddenly it's done. After a while you just start texting each other saying, "Hey, what are you up to?" You can tell everybody is bored and misses each other [laughs].
Q: What is your biggest non-hockey event of the summer?
MATHESON: My wedding.
Q: I know that you and your fianceé Emily Pfalzer are both professional hockey players with pretty hectic and busy schedules throughout the season. Given that, how has the wedding planning been going?
MATHESON: Em's been doing a great job of planning everything. I probably haven't been able to help out as much as I should, but I'll be able to help out a lot more now. It's funny. It's such a huge event, but I think Em and I both have the opinion that it's not the end of the world. It's just a big party to celebrate. It'll be interesting. It'll be a lot of fun. We're both pretty excited for it to be over almost because we both don't really like attention [laughs].
Q: The summer is usually when the some of the biggest concerts happen and the most highly-anticipated movies are released. Do you have anything like that circled on your calendar right now?
MATHESON: Honestly, I've only been to two concerts my whole life… and they're both Kenny Chesney. Em and I are both pretty relaxed people. We don't really go out and do stuff. We're kind of homebodies. We just do our thing. I think we're looking forward to just spending some time in Florida for the next month, doing our own thing and enjoying being here together.