The NHL lockout is never a fun topic to talk about. As all of us fans continue to pray that the two sides stop being so stubborn and come to an agreement, players throughout the league are continuously signing with teams overseas. For the Florida Panthers, we have seen many of our players go across the ocean. Whether it was our great young defender, Dmitry Kulikov, or one of our veterans such as Tomas Kopecky, multiple players from the Florida Panthers have decided to go to Europe to get some playing time in untill the lockout is settled.
When a player chooses to go play overseas, they know there is a huge risk involved. The style of hockey that is played in the Eastern side of the world is much different from what they’re used to here in the states. Even with the chance of injury being there, the players still go overseas nonetheless. In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons for the move overseas is you cannot go a whole year without contact and then just play at the same level once hockey starts up again. Unfortunately with contact, there are always injuries. I never enjoy watching players get injured in any sport, no matter who the player is, or what team that player plays for. For example, it is safe to say that I am not a fan of Sidney Crosby, however, when he went down with his concussion, I knew that hit could completely change his career. In two seasons since, Crosby was only able to play a total of 63 games. Injuries are a very serious thing, and as a fan, it hurts a lot more when it’s a player from your favorite team.
When Tomas Kopecky left America to go play for Dukla Trencin, the last thing on anyone’s mind was that he would have to come back to the states just four games into the season. After just getting started with the hockey club from Slovakia, Tomas Kopecky fell victim to an unfortunate injury to his shoulder. Shoulder injuries in hockey are tricky, and they are certainly not fun coming back from. For hockey players, the shoulders are one of their biggest points of weakness. Once the shoulder is injured, it may never be the same. Every check into the boards and every hit you take, adds pressure or strain to it.
Unfortunately, Tomas Kopecky isn’t the only Florida Panther player to come back to the states due to injury. When the NHL announced they will be cancelling games, Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim also decided to jump over to a league overseas, signing with a hockey club in Finland. Just two games into his stint in Finland, Bergenheim suffered a lower body injury.
For us Panther fans, we are anxiously holding our breath. Both of these two players played a huge part in the Panthers success last season. Last season, Kopecky finished fourth in points for a forward, with 32, while Bergenheim placed eight on the list of total points when it came to forwards, with 23. Unfortunately we are going to have to continue to wait on the final word from both of these injuries. All of us are hoping and praying that these injuries aren’t severe, as that would be a huge blow to the Panther organization not only for next season, but more seasons to come.
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