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A Grueling Training Camp is in Store for the Florida Panthers

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Panthers training camp
Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice stands at center ice as his team skates lap after lap after lap around him on the opening day of training camp in Coral Springs on Thursday afternoon. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

CORAL SPRINGS — Even after coming off of a run to the Stanley Cup Final, Paul Maurice is not taking it easy on his players in his second training camp as coach of the Florida Panthers.

The grueling four-day camp Maurice ran in last year is one many players around the team recalled when they were battling through the gauntlet which is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Maurice wants this camp to be tougher than last year’s to continue to build the endurance which helped the Panthers survive situations like their 4OT thriller in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

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“You would like to believe there is a value in experience but we absolutely did not come in with the idea that we have learned something and that we now own it,” Maurice said.

“The re-investment has to be made. It has to be at least as hard this year as it was last year. We should have increased our capacity to endure and that was a theme of that camp and we should be a more fit team.

“Sometimes, that’s just mentally more fit that you can push yourself through.”

Those who returned from the Cup run know what the standard is and has been trying to hold themselves to that level since informal skates started up in the past few weeks.

And it was clear anyone not willing to put in that level of effort would be lagging behind.

“We expect more from ourselves and we expect more from each other,” Matthew Tkachuk said.

“We expect that you are going to come in every day and you are going to work hard, whether it is a summer skate or training camp or a practice during the season. The standard has definitely been set and we have a really good culture here. If you are not doing that, you are probably going to be an odd man out here.”

New arrivals to the Panthers were made aware very quickly what it was going to take to help them make the climb back up to the mountain top.

“It’s going to be hard in the beginning here,” Kevin Stenlund said. “You have to be ready to work your ass off — and then have fun.”

Those words were echoed plenty of times by every player on the roster as the playoffs went on and the new arrivals have adjusted themselves to it pretty quickly.

The first day of training camp consisted of an endless slew of 1-on-1 battles and lap after lap of skating afterward.

They held their own as they embedded themselves into the team’s culture.

“We are going to work; that is the team’s identity,” Evan Rodrigues said.

“Heavy on the forecheck, heavy on the backcheck and we are going to try to skate deep.”

As training camp goes on, it is not going to get any easier.

Maurice will work them hard in practice for three more days before Monday’s preseason doubleheader, which every healthy player on the roster is expected to play in.

What happens then is the real test as to who can carve out a significant role on the roster while holding true to the team’s identity.

“You can tell there is not a whole lot of messing around and going through the motions,” Steven Lorentz said.

“It is a mindset that I don’t think a lot of guys turned off and I think a lot of guys have a not-so-good taste in their mouth after losing in the Final last season and I wouldn’t either.

”Competitive teams and competitive guys, they are not satisfied with second place or coming up just a little bit short. I think these guys are coming in knowing how close they were last year and how hard they worked last year and now it’s like ‘Okay, we have to push that much harder.’

“It doesn’t matter where their coaches are on the ice or who is on the ice, you know they’re going to give it that extra little bit every single shift.”

Training Camp Notes

Patric Hornqvist began his new positon as Florida’s scouting and development consultant training the injured players.

Aaron Ekblad, Brandon Montour, Jonah Gadjovich and Josh Davies were all working with the 15-year NHL veteran on skating drills in between the first and second sessions of training camp this morning.

Ekblad and Montour are still expected to have mid-December returns from their injuries.

— Carter Verhaeghe left practice after feeling some tightness in the middle of a drill. His removal from practice was precautionary and he is not expected to miss much time.

— Sam Bennett says he is “feeling good” after recovering from a lower-body injury he played through in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He said he had to rest for a few weeks but says that he is all good now.

— Ryan Lomberg missed the first day of training camp because of the birth of his daughter.

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