Clean out day is an annual rite of passage for hockey teams and only one gets to do it with the stale scent of Champagne lingering in the room. For the Florida Panthers, the end of the 2021 NHL season came quickly as these things tend to do.
Even though the Panthers were on the verge of elimination since losing Game 4 of their playoff series with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, no one ever expects to lose.
The Panthers were planning on having a Game 7 at BB&T Center on Friday night, the winner moving on to face Carolina in the second round.
Instead, players wrapped up sticks, packed up duffel bags and put the finishing touches on their end-of-season golf outing and team party.
Radko Gudas said no one did anything on Thursday as the only plans anyone had was for an off day before returning to the arena for Friday’s Game 7 morning skate.
The end of a season, unless your team has been out of it for weeks and the finale is a foregone conclusion, is like hitting a wall.
No more practices, no more games.
It takes time to adjust to having nowhere to be anymore.
“You see the guys today and you’re like, ‘What did you do yesterday?’ It’s just like, ‘Nothing.’ I had nothing planned and nothing I really wanted to do,’’ Gudas said.