Man, has this been a strange year. And it is only July.
At least hockey appears to be on its way back in the coming days. This, after taking a break which has lasted longer than most offseasons.
When the NHL announced it was halting its season on March 12, the Florida Panthers were in Dallas preparing for a game against the Stars.
I was there as well, covering the team for The Athletic — where I was in my second year back covering the Panthers.
As the days off turned to weeks and then months, I was laid off on June 5.
A few days later, I launched a new Panthers-centric website called PanthersPressBox.com. I still had some stories to tell and needed a place to put them.
Soon after, folks started asking me what I planned to do with the site.
Well, it has morphed into this new venture: As of today, my Florida Panthers coverage will be here at FloridaHockeyNow.com.
More markets are coming soon.
This is a subscription site although there will be a number of stories which will be free for all to check out.
My plan is to cover this Florida Panthers team with everything I’ve got just as I have since The Miami Herald originally put me on the beat at the start of the 2004-05 season which never was.
Not only will there be plenty of in-depth stories and features (including a few later today), but frequent links to NHL stories I think you all will enjoy.
A podcast is in the works. It will drop soon.
Subscriber mailbags and Q&As will be a regular thing just as they were at The Athletic. We will definitely have some watch parties — when it is safe to do so.
And, of course, there is always news. There will be news.
I truly do appreciate all the support you all have given me over the years — and especially since learning of my being laid off last month.
It was not an easy time, but the kind words so many of you expressed made things a lot better for sure.
The Panthers plan on getting back on the ice Monday in Coral Springs (if everything works itself out) for a summer training camp.
At the end of the month they’ll fly to their hub city (likely Toronto) where they’ll face the Islanders in a best-of-5 qualifier for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
This could be the start of something really cool.
I hope you’ll join me for the ride.
George Richards is the editor-in-chief of Florida Hockey Now. Richards spent close to 30 years at The Miami Herald and has covered the Florida Panthers since 2004.
Richards covered the Blue Jackets for The Columbus Dispatch during the 2017-18 season but returned home to resume covering the Panthers for The Athletic in 2018. Richards was born in Miami, started at The Herald while a senior at Cooper City High School and currently lives in Plantation — about a 10-minute drive from the BB&T Center.