There are not many places for an NHL team to practice in New York City so, 10 years ago, the Florida Panthers took it to the great outdoors.
On a brisk day at Lasker Rink in Central Park, the Panthers packed up and bused from their New York hotel to the outdoor skating surface for a fun workout in front of locals checking out the pros taking a spin on their ice.
The Panthers traveled to New York following a loss in Buffalo and decided to practice outside after the Philadelphia Flyers had done so a few weeks prior.
Coach Kevin Dineen was looking to keep his team loose during what would end up being an actual playoff run for the Panthers — Florida’s 12-year postseason drought came to an end that spring.
“These are the ones that stick out at the end of the season,’’ Dineen said as his players continued to skate around the ice and enjoy the weather.
“It was a good day for the Florida Panthers. It was a great day for all of us. We got back to our youth.’’
Indeed they did.
Players walked down the stone steps wearing sneakers, skates hanging from their stick like they did when they were kids.
Goalies Scott Clemmensen and Jose Theodore left their pads behind and just skated around with their teammates.
The team was split into groups made up by Stephen Weiss and did various drills — but mostly played little games out on the ice.
Coaches wore ski caps with the FDNY logo on them, something Dineen credited Weiss with coming up with.
“It was a lot of fun and I think I’m ready to play on the point on the power play,” Theodore said after scoring in one of the drills.
“It was the perfect weather, not too cold. We had a real good time out here that’s for sure.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT COLORADO AVALANCHE
- WHEN: Sunday, 8 p.m.
- WHERE: Ball Arena, Denver
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WQAM 560
- Last season: Did not play
- This season: @Florida 4, Colorado 1 (Oct. 21)