SUNRISE — It has been a busy time for new Florida Panthers defenseman Petteri Lindbohm.
After helping Finland to its first Olympic Gold in February, Lindbohm (quickly) packed his bags and headed to South Florida after signing with the Panthers on Feb. 28.
“These last couple of weeks have been busy, that’s for sure,” Lindbohm said. “A lot of traveling. A lot of things are happening, but I try to live day-to-day and just enjoy the ride.”
Lindbohm is set to make his Panthers debut in a Thursday night clash against the Philadelphia Flyers.4
It will be his first NHL action since 2017 — the end of a three-year stint with the St. Louis Blues where he put up three points (two goals, one assist) in 40 games.
“It has been a long time, but it [feels] good,” Lindbohm said.
“We have a great group of guys here and it’s been nice to have a couple of practices with the team. I’m excited and I’m ready to go.”
It is a group of guys he is very familiar with as well.
He played with Sasha Barkov, Eetu Luostarinen and Anton Lundell with the Finnish national team at various points of his career.
“That helps. I’ve had a few rides from the guys to the rink. I don’t have to worry about that, so that helps a lot,” Lindbohm said.
“They know the city and I’ve played with all of those Finnish guys, so it’s easy to come along with them, but the other guys have been good too. It’s been nice to meet them.”
Lindbohm was set to play in the KHL Playoffs with Jokerit, but the Finland-based club pulled out due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
That opened the door for the 28-year-old defenseman to sign with Florida.
“When the situation started, I got a call from my agent and checked out what was available,” Lindbohm said.
“For me, if my season ended now, it would have been a long summer and I like to play hockey. So we were trying to find a place where I’d be able to play. Then, he told me about this opportunity that they were interested and I was ready to pack almost right away.”
Earlier in the month, Lindbohm put up two assists in six games for the Finnish Olympic team en route to a Gold medal.
“It was a great experience getting the Gold medal and we had a great team with a lot of the best European players,” Lindbohm said.
“I thought from Day 1 that this team had the opportunity to go all the way and thank God we were good enough to do that.”
Lindbohm helped bring a lot of pride back to Finland, sharing the celebration to those back home and to some of his now-Panthers teammates.
“It was such a huge thing for the whole country,” Lindbohm said.
“When we had the stadium party afterward, it was snowing like hell and it’s negative-10 degrees, but the whole stadium is packed. I have a lot of respect for the Finnish fans that came out that night. It was a great experience.”
With the Olympics and in Jokerit’s playoff push, Lindbohm found himself playing in a lot of important games before arriving in Sunrise.
Now, he joins a Panthers team in the thick of a race for the top spot in the Atlantic division and, eventually, the Stanley Cup.
With Florida currently sitting three points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the division’s top spot, Lindbohm is ready for the challenge.
“It’s always fun to play in those games,” Lindbohm said.
“I’m lucky to play for good teams. You always want to play to win and that’s the most fun part — when you go all the way and win.”
After five years away from the NHL, Lindbohm now returns to help Florida get there.
“He’s played over here and he played for a really good franchise in St. Louis that plays similarly to how a lot of teams play,” coach Andrew Brunette said.
“It’ll still be a little bit of a transition and he’ll have a little bit of compete and a little bit of fun and we’ll work on it as he gets going here.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- Last season: Did not play
- Season Series — Florida leads 2-0: Florida 4, @Philadelphia 2; Oct. 23; @Florida 2, Philadelphia 1 (OT); Nov. 24
- All-time regular season series: Flyers lead 55-36-5, 7 ties