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Wednesday September 7, 2011 7:53 am

Re-vamped Panthers ready to take over Florida




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, NHL

Stephen WeissThe Florida Panthers were the hottest team at last year’s trade deadline, practically giving away their entire roster – finally admitting that the plan wasn’t working and attempting to get younger and cheaper in a hurry. They’ve been out of the playoffs for over a decade and wholesale changes may be just what they need to become a contender in the Eastern Conference. At least that’s what General Manager Dale Tallon hopes for.

 

It all starts over with a brand new head coach in Kevin Dineen, who is a former player himself making his debut behind the bench he once sat on. He’ll take command of a massively changed roster, which features more than half a dozen new faces including goaltender Jose Theodore in net, who replaces the shaky Tomas Vokoun who is off to Washington. As one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league, strong goaltending will be very important to counteract that.

Also joining the team is Kris Versteeg, Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall, Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim, Marcel Goc, Matt Bradley and Ed Jovanovski. Fans in Florida are going to have a tough time recognizing the hometown crew, but hopefully for them it doesn’t take too long for these players to get acquainted and find some kind of chemistry. It will be even trickier as youngsters like Evgeny Dadonov and Erik Gudbranson will be in strong contention for roster spots.

There’s no two ways about it, the Florida Panthers are in a state of disarray right now. But with a few lucky breaks and some strong performances on the ice, they just might find themselves in contention for a low playoff seed. That’s all it takes for a team to find success. An average team in the regular season is nothing compared to a hot team in the playoffs, and there’s few places in the NHL that’s hotter than Florida.

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