In a sign the 2023 NHL All-Star Game is getting close, dozens of boxes of new merchandise was sitting near the Florida Panthers locker room on Thursday morning.
Later that night, the NHL named the first 32 players — one from each team in the league — for the All-Star weekend which will be held here from Feb. 3-4.
Matthew Tkachuk was the first — perhaps only? — member of the Panthers to be named to the 11-man Atlantic squad with his brother Brady making it as well.
The NHL is holding a convoluted fan vote to pick the remainder of the teams for the event with Twitter retweets and a ‘traditional’ online ballot being part of it.
If you want to read the rules, GO HERE
As for the event itself, the Panthers and the NHL have some surprises still to come such as where special Skills Competition events are to be held.
Last year, Vegas had players shooting pucks into the Bellagio fountains and knocking down giant cards in a chilly game of Blackjack on the Strip.
We suggested shooting frozen pucks of hamburger to alligator targets floating off Everglades Holiday Park.
Seriously, that would be cool. But, noooo.
Something about feeding alligators — and placing targets on their backs — being illegal.
You could also have players race from Fort Lauderdale Beach to Sunrise without the help of a police escort.
The ones who make it through traffic first get to play. Of course, some (Alex Ovechkin) would just head to the Elbo Room and ‘lose.’
Anyway, those were declined.
We will see if the League (first and last capitalization on that one) comes up with anything better.
Among those not named Tkachuk making the various All-Star rosters include Ovechkin (ATL), Connor McDavid (PAC), Igor Shesterkin (MET), Kevin Hayes (MET), Tage Thompson (ATL), Kirill Kaprizov (CEN), Cale Makar (CEN), Seth Jones (CEN) and Nazem Kadri (PAC).
Should be a fun week of hockey-related fun throughout South Florida — well, Broward County, anyway.
The way things sound, the only events held in Miami will be completely unofficial ones like players making their way to South Beach and whatnot.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
Spoke to Matthew Tkachuk on Thursday as he talked about how excited he was to not only make the All-Star Game but be able to show off his new hometown.
Tkachuk is very proud of his fancy custom golf cart and with his place not far from the official team hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach, you can bet he’ll put a few clicks on that odometer cruising back and forth between his two headquarters.
— The Panthers are in Detroit City and if anyone needed recommendations of where to go last night, Givani Smith and Marc Staal probably had some pretty good suggestions.
No one asked for mine, but I have some.
— The Panthers will have Sergei Bobrovsky back in net against the Red Wings.
— Another reminder to check out Colby’s story on Brandon Montour and his work trying to grow the game within the Indigenous community. Lot of compliments on this one. It’s worth the read.
— The Panthers worked out in Sunrise before their flight Thursday so check out video from Paul Maurice, Smith and Radko Gudas (more on him this weekend).
Tkachuk talking about his All-Star selection on Friday morning in Detroit has also been added.
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NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW
Alex Ovechkin reacts to being named to the All-Star Game and — surprise! — the Washington Capitals star says he plans to attend.
Well, he was coming down here for the break anyway. May as well not get suspended for a game as he usually does.
— Sidney Crosby gets named to his ninth All-Star event, good for second all-time in Pittsburgh Penguins history behind a name familiar to those down here.
Hey, can the Panthers talk Jaromir Jagr into coming for the weekend? Now that would be cool. He could play for the Atlantic again.
— South Florida’s Shayne Gostisbehere played in his 500th NHL game and the Coyotes’ defenseman did it at Wells Fargo against his pals the Philadelphia Flyers.
— The Detroit Red Wings have seen their GAA go up over the past eight games. Is it a blip? The Panthers obviously hope that trend continues tonight.
— The Boston Bruins placed Jake DeBrusk on LTIR after he sustained multiple injuries in his heroic Winter Classic turn.
— Cale Makar and his phenomenal run with the Colorado Avalanche will keep on rolling as he is named to his second consecutive All-Star Game.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT DETROIT RED WINGS
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
- Streaming/TV: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 4-0
- This season (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 5, Detroit 1 (Dec. 8)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 34-19-6, 5 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Sunday at Dallas, 3:30 p.m.