When asked whether Rudolphs Balcers came to the Florida Panthers with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, coach Paul Maurice grinned a little bit.
After all, the San Jose Sharks did buy out the remainder of Balcers’ contract over the summer allowing him to sign with Florida as a free agent.
As Maurice pointed out, that does not make Balcers different from any number of his new teammates.
“The Florida Panthers, with the exception of Barkov and Ekblad, are almost built on castoffs who have come in and found their game,” Maurice said after Florida’s practice at the SAP Center in San Jose.
”From Bennett, Reinhart, Verhaeghe, Montour, Forsling — they came from a place where their career wasn’t where they hoped it would be and they found chemistry and connection. Basically our team is built on that.”
Tonight, Balcers returns to face the Sharks for the first time since they cut him loose in July by buying out the final year of his contract.
He comes into the game with two goals and three points in 10 games with the Panthers.
Room for improvement, certainly, but the Panthers have liked the way he has played mostly on the second line with Sam Bennett and now Sam Reinhart.
“It’s nice coming back,” Balcers said. “I was a good couple of years, it was fun being in San Jose playing for the Sharks. I’m on the other side now. I have to be ready tomorrow. I started off here and then came back.
“This is the place I have played most NHL games, grew as an NHL player. The staff is great here. I really enjoyed my time here.”
If you want to check up on all things Sharks, head on over to San Jose Hockey Now.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
Aaron Ekblad is now practicing with the Panthers as he works his way back from a groin injury sustained Oct. 17 in Boston.
Ekblad cannot return to the Florida lineup until Nov. 12 at the earliest but his work with the team is definitely a good sign.
— Gus Forsling has gone from the waiver wire to stepping into the top defensive role with the Panthers after Ekblad got hurt. Quite a ride.
— Florida’s struggles on special teams was on full display Tuesday night in a 3-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.
— Hear from Maurice, Balcers and Marc Staal following Wednesday’s practice in San Jose on the FHN YouTube Channel which can be accessed RIGHT HERE or click on the video below.
If you subscribe to the channel — which is free — you will be alerted whenever a new video pops up.
NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW
The NHN family has grown a bit with the introduction of LA Hockey Now on Wednesday.
Ok, breaking into the Los Angeles market is pretty big.
— Speaking of the Los Angeles Kings, they changed up their lines a bit and it’s working.
— The Boston Bruins have called up Keith Kincaid what with goalie Jeremy Swayman hurt.
— Wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins Reverse Retro Jags himself rocked back in the day, Jason Zucker imitates Jaromir Jagr with his goal celebration.
— The Detroit Red Wings are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 1997 Cup championship this weekend.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT SAN JOSE SHARKS
- When: Thursday, 10:30 p.m.
- Where: SAP Center, San Jose
- Streaming ONLY: ESPN+, Hulu
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 2-0
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 19-13-1, 7 ties