Florida Panthers and the Role of Leadership in the NHL

The leadership debate has been kicked into high gear recently in the hockey world and everyone who’s everyone is throwing in their two cents (5 cents if you’re from Canada). Leadership is a tricky notion in any realm to define and quantify, but in the sports world leadership is more like an omnipotent force than quantifiable trait. The inspiration for this piece comes from Steve (Dangle) Glynn, who debates the quantities/qualities of leadership in this video: http://theleafsnation.com/2014/4/7/leadership-in-hockey-what-s-that

Steve questions whether or not leadership is even real, if it’s tangible based on goals, hits, motivational speeches etc. It’s a great video; I’d check it out if I were you.

So what is it? What is leadership?

To re-hash and expand on what Steve said: Is leadership defined by production? Fighting? The notion of clutch-ness? (That’s a whole other can of worms)

Is it defined by being vocal in the locker room? On the bench? On the ice?

Is it by example? Putting your body on the line to help your team win? Attending charity events? Being available to the media no matter the situation?

Is it how you interact with your teammates? Patting them on the back when they do something right? Teaching them when they did something wrong? Calming them down when they’re making mistakes?

Is it just being old? How many cups you’ve won? How many years you’ve been in the league?

To me, leadership is a mixed bag. It’s a combination/selection of everything I listed above and more.

You can sense leadership in sport (and life, really) at any level, from the professional grade to the beer league. There are people who others gravitate to for inspiration, support, guidance or security. There are people who possess those unquantifiable quantifiable qualities that make people gravitate to them.

The term “Leadership” is used so often these days so it’s not insane to see why it’s been watered down and questioned as much as it is being. When a team wins or loses, part of that result was due to what we call leadership. Players cite their captains, alternates, goal scorers, grinders, goalies, coaches etc. as people who were impactful on the game’s outcome. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes and are defined by the many variations of leadership. There’s not just one answer, there’s not just one quality, leadership is an orchestra.

When it comes to a team’s captaincy group, I have no doubt that whoever makes the decision takes all of these qualities into account. Technically a team only has captains and alternates so that there is a designated group of people to talk to officials. Obviously that has evolved into what we have today. Being a captain or an alternate is seen as a prestigious honor.

We rank the best captains; we debate if a player should be captain, we even put more weight on a goal when it was scored by a captain or when captains fight! Obviously leadership matters in the NHL and whatever you quantify leadership as it has an impact on how you watch the game and how the game is played.

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Panther Parkway Post-Game: Panthers vs. Flyers

Stars of the game

1st: Claude Giroux (2-0-2)

2nd: Vincent Lecavalier (1-1-2)

3rd: Jonathan Huberdeau (1-0-1)

Goals (Flyers 5, Panthers 2)

PHI: Vincent Lecavalier (20)  Assist: Adam Hall

PHI: Claude Giroux (26) Assists: Nicklas Grossman, Luke Schenn

PHI: Claude Giroux (27) Assists: Mark Streit, Scott Hartnell

PHI: Sean Couturier (11) Assists: Braydon Coburn, Matt Read

FLA: Erik Gudbranson (3) Assists: Scottie Upshall, Vincent Trocheck

FLA: Jonathan Huberdeau (9) Assists: Drew Shore, Colby Robak

PHI: Tye McGinn (4) Assists: Vincent Lecavalier, Adam Hall

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Game Day Preview: Flyers vs. Panthers. Don’t Worry We’re Gonna Find A Way.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: 40-29-9 (89 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 28-43-8 (64 PTS).


GAME DAY SONG:  Waiting On A Sunny Day.  Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

This will be the third and final meeting of the season between the Florida Panthers and the Philadelphia Flyers, who have split the previous games with each team winning at home.  Both games were low scoring as the Flyers beat the Panthers 2-1 back in October, and the Panthers beat the Flyers 3-1 in late November.

The Flyers come into this game having gone 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, but they were 1-4-2 in a recent seven game stretch before beating the lowly Buffalo Sabres 5-2 on Sunday.  They’ll be looking to punch out another victory against a Florida Panther team that is right now playing the role of spoiler, especially after Sunday’s comeback victory over the Dallas Stars.  The Flyers who have a totally different look since the last time they came in for a visit, find themselves in a dog fight for a playoff spot.

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Should He Stay or Should He Go?

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Panther Parkway Post-Game: Panthers vs. Hurricanes

Stars of the game

1st: Jiri Tlusty (2G-0A-2P)

2nd: Anton Khudobin (35-35 saves – 1.000 sv%)

3rd: Jeff Skinner (1G-0A-1P)

Goals (Hurricanes 3, Panthers 0)

CAR: Jiri Tlusty (13) Assists: Eric Staal, Brett Bellemore

CAR: Jiri Tlusty (14) Assists: Andrei Loktionov, Justin Faulk

CAR: Jeff Skinner (28) Assists: Patrick Dwyer

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Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Maple Leafs. One False Move, And Baby The Lights Go Out.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 21-25-7 (49 PTS.) vs. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: 28-21-6 (62 PTS.)


GAME DAY SONG:  The hauntingly perfect Point Blank from 1978, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

After a thrilling and emotional come from behind victory in Detroit on Sunday, the Florida Panthers got beaned in Boston Tuesday night by a score of 6-2.  While the Panthers have had some real character wins this season, it’s difficult to come back from a 4 goal deficit especially against a team like the Boston Bruins.  The Panthers weren’t in the game from the beginning, as the Bruins were all over them putting 19 shots on goal in the opening period.  If not for Tim Thomas, it could have been over in the first 20 minutes.

Slow starts and the excuses for them are beginning to get old, but let’s put that into perspective.  The Panthers have given up the first goal of the game in 33 of 53 games.  Despite the fact that they’ve managed some comebacks, their record is 8-21-4 when the opposition scores first.  That right there will be the biggest factor keeping Florida out of the post season, which as we know is a pipe dream anyway, but at one point there was some hope.  Let’s be brutaly honest, it appears now that any chance has all but faded.

Let’s admit as well that Boston is one of the elite teams in the East, and very difficult to play against.  However when you sit both Erik Gudbranson and Krys Barch two of your most physical players, you don’t stand much of a chance to compete with a team like the Bruins who are known for being nasty, as well as skilled.  Understanding the decision to keep those players out of Tuesday’s game isn’t easy.  Which again points to the fact that the Panthers must be more physical overall, otherwise teams will continue to push them around.

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Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Hurricanes. I Told A Dream To You

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 18-22-7 (43 PTS.) vs. CAROLINA HURRICANES: 19-18-9 (47 PTS.)


GAME DAY SONG: Restless Nights, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

This will be the first meeting of the season between these two former division rivals.  After seeing the Canes six times per year over the last few seasons, it’s been a nice break not to have to face a team that seemingly gives the Panthers fits at the worst possible time.

If things continue to follow pattern tonight for the Panthers, this game should result in a win.  The Panthers who have been looking for consistency may have found it in 2014, albiet not in a positive way, but hey, it’s something.  The Panthers have established a consistent pattern of winning a game, then losing the following game.  That said after being shutout on Thursday night 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks, if the pattern holds true, the Panthers should win tonight.  But those things can’t be counted on, and that’s why they play the games.

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Why The Panthers Will Need to Find Room For Dylan Olsen

Dylan Olsen & Erik Gudbranson (Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

Dylan Olsen & Erik Gudbranson (Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

Reportedly set to come off the injured reserve list in just a matter of days, the Florida Panthers will soon be faced with the tough task of deciding what to do with talented young defenseman Dylan Olsen.

Having not played since suffering a lower-body injury on December 31st against the New York Rangers, Olsen will be coming back to a Panthers blue-line that looks quite different than the one he left behind. Since his departure, the team has seen the return of both Erik Gudbrason (orbital bone surgery) and Ed Jovanovski (hip surgery) to the blue-line.

Though sitting any of their current defenseman would be hard to swallow, lets take a look at why the Panthers’ should think twice before sending Olsen to the press box in a suite and tie.

In the 17 games that Olsen competed in since arriving to South Florida in a trade with Chicago, the Panthers fought their way to a 9-7-1 record and quickly changed the outlook of their season from cellar dwellers to a potential feel good story. Over those 17 games, Olsen earned 9 points (3G-6A-9P), including a career best five game point streak.

While Olsen certainly cannot be given all of the credit for the team’s turnaround, he has definitely been one of the players in the forefront of the Panthers’ quick rejuvenation as one of the team’s more efficient and reliable defensemen.

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Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Canadiens. Desire & Hunger Is The Fire I Breathe

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 16-20-6 (38 PTS.) vs. MONTREAL CANADIENS: 24-15-5 (53 PTS.)


GAME DAY SONG: Because The Night, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The Florida Panthers embark tonight on a crucial three game road swing with this evenings game against the Canadiens, and then stops in Buffalo and New Jersey before returning home on January 14th to face the New York Islanders.  Though the Panthers still sit towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference, they have shown a great deal of upside lately that makes you wish the first 30 days of the season could be wiped off.  While that’s unrealistic, the Panthers will shoot for their third victory in a month over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Panthers who just completed a five game homestand, finished with a 2-0-1 record in the last three games with coach Peter Horacheck feeling the team is having positive results:

“The main thing for our team is that we’re moving forward, that we continue to go in the right direction,” coach Peter Horachek said.

If the Panthers win tonight it will be their seventh win in 11 games on the road, a statistic that truly shows how improved they are since Peter Horacheck took over as head coach.

A positive for tonight will be the return of defenceman Erik Gudbranson who has been out of action after having orbital bone surgery.  The burly defenceman’s return is defintely a boost to the confidence of the team, as he was expected to be out much longer.  Gudbranson will be skating with a full cage to protect the surgically repaired portion of his face.  Even better is that he’s be paired with captain Ed Jovanovski on defence just as they were in the Panthers playoff run in 2012.  Jovo came back from a serious hip injury and appeared in his first game since April 2012 this past Saturday playing just over 15 minutes, in all situations, including the power play.  Regardless of what people think of Jovo and his contract, the intangibles that he brings to the team cannot be measured.

The “Killer B’s” line of Aleksander Barkov, Brad Boyes and Sean Bergenheim continue to be the catalyst for the offensively challenged Panther offence.  They have been the team’s most consistent line year to date, and Barkov even though he’s only 18 seems to be a perfect middle man for the two experienced wingers.  Jonathan Huberdeau who has been in a bit of a scoring funk, may have busted out as he had two assists and a shootout goal on Saturday against the Nashville Predators.  Florida needs Huberdeau to score and be an effective player if they’re going to be successful.

While Scott Clemmensen has been in net for the previous victories over the Habs. Tim Thomas could get the call tonight.  Thomas has a 9-4-0 record against Montreal in his last 14 games with a 1.83 GAA.

Montreal has been running hot and cold as of late, and has given up 17 goals in their last 4 games, something they’ll want to tighten up.  Max Pacioretty who has been the subject of trade rumours has six points in his last three games, but is scoreless against the Panthers in his past 4.  P.K. Subban may be playing with a bit of extra flair tonight as he makes one more bid for his election to Team Canada for the Olympics in Sochi.  With final rosters being announced tomorrow, the energetic defenceman will be looking to make a lasting impression.  Like Mad Max, Subban also has 6 points in his last 3 games.

This matchup is always an entertaining one, and both teams will use their speed and aggressive attack to generate scoring chances all night long.  The game will likely be fast, rather chippy, and should be one that will entertain from start to finish.

The Hot List:

* Brad Boyes has 5 points in 3 games.

* Sean Bergenheim has 5 goals in 5 games.

* Tom Gilbert has 3 points in 3 games.

* David Deharnais has 5 points in his last 3 games.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Rumor has it that I’ll be on Montreal Hockey Talk Radio tonight at 6:50 to help with today’s preview.  Make sure to give them a listen.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Game Day Preview: Red Wings vs. Panthers. Triangles Are My Favorite Shape

DETROIT RED WINGS: 17-13-9 (43 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 14-19-5 (33 PTS.)


GAMEDAY SONG:  Let’s Tessellate, Alt-J

The Florida Panthers hope to get back on track after the Christmas break having not played since their 6-1 pasting at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.  The Panthers who had a successful Canadian road trip with a 3-1-0 record, have now lost two in a row including a 5-2 loss in Winnipeg before the home loss to Tampa.  In Monday’s game the Panthers looked listless, and at times out of sorts in their first game back from the Canadian road swing.  Being outscored 11-3 in their past two games gives the indication that there’s still work to be done before this team can turn the corner.

It’s also not heling that the Panthers have lost defenceman Erik Gudbranson and forward Scottie Upshall to injuries.  Gudbranson underwent orbital bone suregery and could be out of action for 2-4 weeks depending on how quicklty he heals.  Making it worse is that Gudbranson was playing some of the best hockey of his young career since being paried with newly acquired Dylan Olsen.  Upshall left Monday’s game against Tampa after only seeing five minutes of ice time.  That’s the bad news.

The good news for the Panthers is that they have beaten the Red Wings twice this season, and have a chance to go 4-0 when the HBO 24/7 cameras are rolling.  Call it rising to the occassion, or raising the bar for prime time, the Panthers need another solid performance tonight to prevent the streak of losses from hitting three.  Prior to the recent two game skid the Panthers scored 15 goals during a five game winning streak, and had won seven of eight.  The Panthers are 7-3-0 in their past 10 games and had been playing some of their best hockey of the season under interim coach Peter Horachek.

With the injuries to both Gudbranson and Upshall, the Panthers have recalled defenceman Alex Petrovic and forward Drew Shore to take their place on the roster.  Both players will be looking to make an impression, and make a contribution any way that they can in an effort to get them noticed. In 28 games for the San Antonio Rampage, Shore has 15 points, all assists.  Petrovic has 11 points in 31 games and 46 penatly minutes.  With Gudbranson out of the lineup, “Petro” will need to play physically, yet will need to be smart about it.

The Red Wings have been battling some inconsistency of their own this season winning two in a row prior to a six game losing streak, with a 3-0 shutout against the New York Islanders on Monday.  Like the Panthers, the Red Wings have also had some trouble scoring this season, however their roster has been decimated with injuries.  Not to use injuries as an excuse, and you know that this writer would never make excuses for the Red Wings, but Detroit can point to those injuries for an explanation of their play.  When you have players like Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Darrin Helm, Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkater, and oh yea, Stephen Weiss out of action, wins will be tough to come by.  Adding to that injury list will be the loss of defenceman Jonathan Ericsson who’ll miss 3-5 weeks with broken ribs.

Zetterberg is expected back in the lineup tonight for Detroit, and despite missing 11 games with a herniated disc in his back, he still leads the team in points with 30 and in a plus 12 in 28 games.  And Pavel Datysuk is second in team scoring with 29 points followed  by former Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson with 28.

Detroit who has been off just as long as the Panthers (since Monday) won’t make this an easy task for Florida, and will likely come out a touch angry as they look to avoid two consecutive losses to two of the teams that are bringing up the rear of the NHL.  The Panthers will need to keep the puck away from Detroit as much as they can, and put a lot of shots on net against Jonas Gustavsson who’ll likely start tonight in goal.

The Panthers will need a quick start tonight, and will need to beat Detroit at their own game by holding on to the puck longer.  The defence will need to be sharp, and will need to clear rebounds, and players out of the crease to make their goaltenders job easier.


* The Red Wings have an 11-3-3 record on the road, good enough for first in the NHL.

* Aleksander Barkov has four points in his last four games.

* Marcel Goc needs one assist to reach 100 in his career.

* The Panthers will play five straight at home. Tampa was on Monday, Detroit tonight, Montreal Sunday night, NY Rangers, and Nashville.

* The Red Wings have lost 145 man games to injury this season.

* Daniel Alfredsson has 58 points in 60 career games against the Panthers.

* Detroit had lost 6 consecutive shootouts this season, and 11 in a row dating back to last year before beating Toronto last Satruday night.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.


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