The Florida Panthers hit the ice for the first day of Training Camp at the Florida Panthers IceDen. With 51 players at camp, competition is the name of the game and that’s the message Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon has for his team for this season’s camp.
“The message is ‘compete’,” said Tallon of his training camp mantra. “Give it your best every day, because we have eyes on everybody. There aren’t many openings, so you better be at your best every day. It’s an accumulation of successful days that make this team. Competition is getting deeper and deeper. We have depth at all positions now. The pace was very good for the first day.”
With a plethora of prospects vying to earn a spot on Florida’s roster, not to mention professional try-outs F David Booth and F Martin Havlat, the race will be a tight one. “I’m not going to give a job to somebody just because we drafted them in the first, second or third round or because we like them,” said Tallon. “They have to earn their spot. Inner competition will make our team a lot better.”
The NHL’s most-improved team of 2014-15, the Panthers have a lot to be optimistic about. The Cats’ young players began to turn the corner last season as they meshed well with the team’s veterans. G Roberto Luongo is proud of what the team was able to accomplish last season, but is certainly not satisfied with the result.
“The guys are excited to be here,” said Luongo after practice. “We’re all excited about the year we had last year. We were disappointed with the finish, but I think we realized as a group we are a good team. The guys are excited to take the next step.”
“[Last season] we all had that same feeling,” said Luongo. “That feeling we had from being eliminated in game 79 last year, it carried over into the whole summer. Coming into this year, we want to take the next step as a team and obviously the next step is to be in the playoffs and make a run for it. We know we can do it. The talent’s here, it’s just a matter of going out there and believing in ourselves.”
The Panthers continue training camp at Florida Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs tomorrow beginning at 9:45 AM, before the team takes to the road for a double-header preseason game against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena (4:30 PM, 8:00 PM EST) on Sept. 20.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FULL TRAINING CAMP ROSTER