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Florida Panthers open training camp missing key players

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Panthers training camp Florida
Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville (center) gathers the first group of skaters on the opening day of training camp at BB&T Center on Jan. 4, 2021. // @GeorgeRichards

The Florida Panthers opened training camp at BB&T Center in Sunrise a little earlier than the scheduled 10 a.m. start.

By 9:30, goalie Chris Driedger was on the ice working with goalie coach Robb Tallas before his teammates began sneaking onto the ice.

Defenseman Kevin Connauton, here on a try out, was the first player on the ice who wasn’t working with the goaltenders.

Coach Joel Quenneville, rocking a light blue face mask, skated out onto the ice at 9:53 a.m. He rounded up the first group for his first chat of camp five minutes later.

If you’re on time, well, you’re late.

“It has been a while,” Quenneville said. “I know in having a training camp like this where there will be no exhibition games … getting off to a good start is important, it can make your season.

“It has been a long time since some guys played and some were in better shape than others.

“For the first day, the pace was pretty demanding and they handled it for the most part. We expect that to increase as we go along.’’

The big news to come out of Florida’s first practice were those who were missing. And why.

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