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Big Train: Florida Panthers Celebrate ‘Glue of the Locker Room’



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Florida Panthers assistant equipment manager Thomas ‘Train’ Anderson takes a break from working the team locker room following Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Sabres. Anderson was honored pregame for working his 1,000th professional game last Thursday at Carolina. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers celebrated a momentous milestone night before their game against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

It was not for a player, nor a coach.

It was, however, for a man Matthew Tkachuk called “the glue of our locker room.”

Assistant equipment manager Thomas ‘Train’ Anderson worked his 1,000th professional hockey game last Thursday in Carolina and was feted by the team in a pregame ceremony Tuesday.

Anderson, who got his start in 2009 with the AHL Charlotte Checkers, was honored with a pregame video which featured comments from a number of players and fellow staff members.

He was joined on the ice before the game by his wife Nicole and their 6-year-old son Mason, who, was given the honor from Dad to drop the ceremonial puck.

“I was just worried Mason was going to fall and have to deal with that,” Anderson said as he took a break in the postgame locker room after Florida’s 3-2 win over the Sabres. “You are always nervous when you are out there and all eyes are on you.”

Anderson — whom everyone just refers to as Train — spent much of his career either in the AHL or ECHL.

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He joined his hometown Gwinnett Gladiators in 2010 where he eventually worked with his “best friend since I was 11” in Dakota King.

Both are now members of the Florida staff, working side-by-side each and every day.

“This is something that my family and I will treasure for the rest of my career moving forward,” Anderson said. “Being able to do it with Teddy was great; Dakota and I have been best friends since I was 11 and we worked our way up to the NHL together. That’s pretty special right there. Great moment, really cool to do it with them.’’

When Teddy Richards left the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 to become the head equipment manager in Florida, he said one thing he asked for was for the Panthers to hire Train.

Anderson, 32, has been part of the Panthers’ staff ever since.

“He is like a son to me,” Richards said on Tuesday. “When we formed our team, our equipment staff, he is one guy I really wanted. I had to get him down here. To see that tonight, that’s a special moment. I think we did it right, too. It was real nice to see.”

Florida coach Paul Maurice says all the hard work a hockey team’s equipment staff does may go unnoticed to the general public — but it is certainly appreciated by those in that room.

And Train Anderson may be more appreciated than any of them.

“We may think we know the job they do, but we get off the plane and go home,’’ Maurice said. “They get to go to the rink and work until 3 in the morning. But we know they are doing that work. An equipment manager’s life is hockey, all the time. They are special guys.

“Then you get someone like Train, who is wired into the fabric of the players. I know when I walk into the room at a certain time, he will be talking to Matthew Tkachuk and they will both be laughing before a game. That is a good thing. He is a joy-bringer. We have all been in bad moods at the rink, but when you see Train, he puts a smile on your face. You just end up laughing because of that smile.

“He takes his job very seriously, wants to get everything right. But he is always bouncing around, making everyone happy. One of my favorite things about coming to the rink in the morning is giving Train (grief) because he didn’t come over and say hello. I mean, it has been five hours, right?

“What’s the point of coming to work if you don’t get to see Train?

“Just a wonderful human.”



  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise 
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5 FM-2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Last Season: Florida won 4-0
  • This Season (Panthers Lead 2-0) — At Montreal: Panthers 5, Canadiens 1 (Nov. 30). At Florida: Panthers 4, Canadiens 1 (Dec. 30); Thursday
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 57-38-11, 6 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at Detroit, 3 p.m. (ABC)

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