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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Anthony Duclair: ‘No Friends Out There’ when Panthers Play Lightning



Panthers lightning
Anthony Duclair gets a warm welcome from Florida Panthers fans on March 16 when he returned with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He may not today in Game 1. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

Few players on the Tampa Bay Lightning know as much about the Florida Panthers as Anthony Duclair does.

Duclair spent the previous three seasons with the Panthers before being traded to San Jose on July 1 in a cap-saving move.

At the NHL Trade Deadline, Duclair came back to Florida — only to the west side of the state.

Today, Duclair will be back in Sunrise playing for the Lightning as it opens the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Panthers at Amerant Bank Arena (12:30; BSF, ESPN).

Speaking on NHL Network Thursday, Duclair talked about the great memories he made while helping the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final last summer.

He also made it clear all of the friendships he has with players on the Florida side does not mean anything right now.

“It’s playoff time and there’s no friends out there,” Duclair said. “It’s going to be a battle. I know them firsthand and know how talented they are, how hard they work. That’s a credit to them. They obviously had a really good year and showed no signs of slowing down after last year. I’m really excited for the competition. I’m sure it’s going to be a hell of a time.”

At least one member of the Panthers watched that interview.

Not surprisingly, it was Florida’s captain.

“He is obviously a great guy and a great friend to so many of us in here,’’ Sasha Barkov said. “But, as he said on NHL Network, there are no friends on the ice. Especially in the playoffs. It’s hockey; it’s business. Now we go against each other and he is just another player on that team.”

Duclair remains one of the most well-liked of players among his now-former Florida teammates and he remains committed to his charitable work off the ice in South Florida.

The Panthers welcomed Duclair back to Sunrise with the Sharks on Oct. 24.

He returned to South Florida during San Jose’s All-Star break to christen the construction of a synthetic ice rink funded by his foundation at Boyd Anderson High in Lauderdale Lakes. 

Duclair made a second trip back with the Lightning on March 16.

“This is a second home for me, and it is great to be back,” Duclair said then. “I promised when I started the Foundation that we would build rinks here and it does not matter that I got traded away; I am going to honor that and even go beyond that.

“South Florida will always have a special place in my heart, everyone was so good to me here. It is a no-brainer to try and grow the sport down here. This is a perfect spot with all the ethnicities and different backgrounds. It is personal to me since there is such a big Haitian presence.”

On Friday, he expanded on that.

“I just want to give back as much as I can,” Duclair told “I’m looking forward to building more down the road. There are people down there I still connect with to this date and will continue to connect with in the future.”

It is no wonder why fans and (former) teammates alike think so highly of Duclair.

Even general manager Bill Zito and assistant GM Brett Peterson attended the event at Boyd Anderson as friends, not as hockey executives.

But today?

Those friendships are on hold.

“It is all about competition when we are on the ice and I am sure he would say the same about us,’’ Aaron Ekblad said. “That’s how it’s going to be. We obviously have a ton of respect for him, but you put all personal feelings aside at this time of the year. That’s how it has always been and always will be.”

  • When: Sunday, 12:30 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • Local TV/National TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN/ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Local Betting Odds — Panthers Favored: Money Line (-165); Puck line (-1.5, +145); Over/Under 5.5 (-125/+100). Series Florida -180
  • First Round Schedule — Game 1: Sunday at Florida, 12:30 p.m. (BSF, ESPN); Game 2: Tuesday at Florida, 7:30 (BSF, ESPN2); Game 3: Thursday at Tampa Bay, 7 (BSF, TBS); Game 4: Saturday Ap. 27 at Tampa Bay, 5 (BSF, TBS, TruTV); Game 5*:Monday Ap. 29 at Florida, TBA (BSF, TBA); Game 6*: Wednesday May 1 at Tampa Bay, TBA (BSF, TBA); Game 7*:Saturday May 4 at Florida, TBA (BSF, TBA). (*) — If necessary
  • 2023-24 Regular Season Series (Panthers Won 2-1) — At Tampa Bay: Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (Dec. 27)Panthers 9, Lightning 2 (Feb. 17). At Florida: Lightning 5, Panthers 3 (March 16).
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 77-51-19, 10 ties
  • All-Time Postgame Series: Lightning Leads 2-0 (2021 first-round, 2022 ECS)


10 Vladimir Tarasenko // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

27 Eetu Luostarinen //15 Anton Lundell // 17 Evan Rodrigues

21 Nick Cousins // 82 Kevin Stenlund // 94 Ryan Lomberg 

42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad

77 Niko Mikkola //  62 Brandon Montour

91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 7 Dmitry Kulikov

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

41 Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Kyle Okposo, Steven Lorentz, Jonah Gadjovich, Josh Mahura, Toby Bjornfot, Evan Cormier

Injured: None


10 Anthony Duclair // 21 Brayden Point //86 Nikita Kucherov

38 Brandon Hagel // 71 Anthony Cirelli // 91 Steven Stamkos

23 Michael Eyssimont //20 Nicholas Paul // 41 Mitchell Chaffee

64 Tyler Motte // 11 Luke Glendening // 84 Tanner Jeannot

77 Victor Hedman // 43 Darren Raddysh

48 Nick Perbix // 81 Erik Cernak

78 Emil Lilleberg // 24 Matt Dumba

88 Andrei Vasilevskiy 

90 Matt Tomkins

Scratched: Austin Watson, Calvin de Haan, Conor Sheary

Injured: Haydn Fleury (upper body), Jonas Johansson (lower body), Mikhail Sergachev (leg)

Tampa Bay Lightning Lines Courtesy

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