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Friends? Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames Do Not Look It



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Calgary Flames defenseman MacKenzie Weegar runs friend and former Florida Panthers teammate Brandon Montour into the boards during the second period Saturday in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 With the frequency of players changing teams in recent seasons, it is not unusual for friends to be on-ice opponents. The Florida Panthers are no different.

Often, visiting players meet former teammates for dinner on the night before a game. 

Once the puck is dropped, friendships end.

Such was the case Saturday, as this hockey phenomenon was never more apparent when the Panthers played host to a few of their friends with the Calgary Flames. 

The rosters included seven players who previously played for the opposing team.

Dryden Hunt and Jacob Markstrom have been away so long that they are not acquainted with the current Florida roster.

On the other hand, Jonathan Huberdeau and McKenzie Weegar are probably still seething from their 2022 trade, especially seeing how successful the Panthers have been since they left.

Matthew Tkachuk exceeded what Florida fans hoped for since coming here in that blockbuster trade.

Sam Bennett and Ryan Lomberg are former Flames who found new life in Florida.

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So, what was everybody so mad about Saturday?

In the second period of a game the Panthers won 5-1, after play resumed following a Bennett deflection that put the Panthers up two, two former teammates and typically peaceful players — Huberdeau and Carter Verhaeghe — started laying lumber to each other near the Calgary net.

The pleasantries started with some pushing and shoving near center ice. 

Huberdeau was seething while Verhaeghe laughed it off, which probably ticked him off even more.

Huberdeau did not endear himself to his former mates in the third period when he whacked a loose puck past Anthony Stolarz after the whistle had blown the play dead, drawing another round of niceties.

This peccadillo by Huberdeau resulted in a wrestling match with all the principals in the big trade – Huberdeau, Weegar and Tkachuk, as well as Bennett, who always has a way of being part of the action.

Perhaps Huberdeau was upset because he was an eyewitness to Aaron Ekblad surpassing him for the second-most games played in franchise history?

Although he and Weegar have been playing well of late, as has the entire Calgary team, they should have been upset that their misplays led to the first two Florida goals.

Huberdeau and Weegar did not feel welcome on the ice where they had been so valuable to the Panthers.

On general principle, Lomberg took a swing at Brayden Pachel after being dumped to the ice by Hunt. 

Later, Lomberg and Hunt did some jawing but were separated by the officials before anything serious started.

A closer look at the stats revealed that former Flames Tkachuk, Lomberg, and Bennett led all Panthers’ forwards in hits with more than three hits apiece.

Not to be denied, Weegar was one of three Flames with five hits.

The expression ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ was never intended for hockey.

Only, it may have been apropos on Saturday.



  • When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: AmericanAirlines Center, Dallas
  • TV/Streaming: 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, NHL app
  • Last Season: Dallas won 2-0
  • This Season (Panthers Lead 1-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Stars 4 (Dec. 6). At Dallas: Tuesday.
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 25-21-2, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday @ Carolina, 7 p.m.

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