CORAL SPRINGS — When the Florida Panthers opened up their Eastern Conference finals series against the Carolina Hurricanes, Skyler Brind’Amour found himself in a rough predicament.
A month after signing a two-year AHL deal with Florida, the Panthers were set to go to battle with the team his dad, Rod, was the captain of, has his number retired by — and, oh yeah, is the current head coach of.
So, who was Skyler Brind’Amour rooting for in that series?
“I gotta plead the fifth on that one,” he said.
While his rooting interests are unknown, it was his Panthers who took down dad’s Hurricanes to clinch a spot in the 2023 Stanley Cup Final.
To cap off a year surrounded by winning, the 23-year-old forward continued to draw lessons from it.
“All of the guys and coaches were joking about it, but it was just awesome hockey,” he said.
“I know it was a four-game sweep, but it was a lot of fun to watch. Every game is super tight and I was able to go to a few games in Carolina. The place was rocking. From the games I’ve been watching on the TV down here, it looked like it was going crazy. It was really a lot of fun hockey to watch.”
While the Brind’Amour name holds some serious weight in hockey — with Rod being a two-time Selke Trophy winner with 1,100 career NHL points on top of being one of the league’s top coaches — Skyler had to work to get himself on the Panthers’ radar.
He was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL Draft but had to go through a six-year grind to earn a professional contract.
Two years of junior hockey and four years of college hockey later, it was a breakout senior campaign at Quinnipiac which helped him earn his spot.
Brind’Amour saw his goal total rocket up from three to 14 and point total from 20 to 32 while helping the Bobcats win the 2023 national championship.
“It was a perfect way to go out,” he said.
“It’s your dream to win championships and to do it at the college level was just surreal.”
After getting a small taste of what professional hockey is like — watching and practicing with the Checkers during their AHL playoff run, albeit not dressing in any games — the next task is clear for Brind’Amour.
He needs to leave his mark.
The 6-foot-3 center is among the oldest attendees of the Panthers’ development camp and could use it to establish himself as a leader in Charlotte and as a player in Florida’s system.
It helps to have one of the most helpful people in the world in his corner.
As Rod is back in Raleigh evaluating players in a similar situation with the Hurricanes, he had one piece of advice for his son: “Don’t take a backseat.”
“You gotta go out there, play hockey and work your balls off,” Skyler continued, quoting his dad.
”If you work your tail off, you can kind of live with the results.”
PANTHERS DEVELOPMENT CAMP SCHEDULE
(Open to the public at Coral Springs IceDen)
- Today: Group A 9:30-10:30; Group B 10:45-11:45
- Thursday: Group B 9:30-10:30; Group A 10:45-11:45
- Friday: Group A vs. Group B 10-11
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
- Now: Free agency period is open
- Today-Friday: Development camp, Coral Springs
- Mid-September: Training Camp, South Florida
- Sept. 25: Preseason starts; Doubleheader v. Nashville @ Sunrise
- Oct. 7: Preseason ends; v. Tampa Bay Lightning @ Sunrise
- Oct. 12: Start of 2023-24 Regular Season at Minnesota Wild
- Oct. 19: 2023-24 Home Opener vs. Toronto Maple Leafs