Much has been made of Zac Dalpe being at home in Charlotte where he is the captain of the Checkers, the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers.
But when he called Florida Hockey Now to talk about his season — and the new two-year contract extension he signed with Florida — he led off with a quick apology.
“I’m in the car with the kids,” he said. “They may get a little loud.”
Yeah, Dalpe is home.
“This is fun. I don’t really see myself going anywhere else,’’ said Dalpe, who was celebrated by the Checkers with a bobblehead night on Saturday.
“The talks with Florida have been in the works for a while, but with the trade deadline and all, there were decisions to be made and other things to get wrapped up. But now that it is over, it is great to know where I am going to be and my wife is happy we’re not moving anywhere. I don’t think it was going to get to that point because I love Charlotte. We all love it here.”
A standout at Ohio State University who was a second-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008, Dalpe started his pro career by playing nine games with the Albany River Rats in 2009 before the Hurricanes moved their AHL team to Charlotte.
Dalpe spent parts of three seasons going back from Charlotte to Raleigh before he started moving around.
He played 55 games with the Canucks — the most of his 168 NHL games with a single team — before moving on to the Sabres, Wild, Blue Jackets and now the Panthers.
Florida GM Bill Zito got to know Dalpe well during their time with the Blue Jackets and brought him to the Panthers so he could be the face of the Checkers.
This is Dalpe’s second season with the Florida organization and, after playing in just one game with the Panthers last year as a Covid fill-in, he got in 14 games this season with an extended look.
“If you look at my career, with the exception of Cleveland and Columbus, I really have not stayed anywhere for too long,’’ Dalpe said. “We love the fact we will be in this organization for a while. We have our boots on the ground and are planting some roots. It is great being part of the Florida organization.
”I am representing the organization here in Charlotte. Bill Zito and I go way back and he has been very loyal to me. I want to show some loyalty to him. Being in Charlotte on behalf of the Panthers is something I take pride of.’’
PANTHERS ON DECK
BUFFALO SABRES AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- 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
- Season Series (Florida leads 2-1): Panthers 4, Sabres 3 (Oct. 15); Panthers 4, Sabres 1 (Jan. 16); Sabres 3, Panthers 1 (Feb. 24)
- Last season: Florida won 3-0
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 53-45-8, 4 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Ottawa Senators at Florida, Thursday, 7 p.m.