Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers, Filip Kuba get off to new beginnings


The Panthers had their first official practice since the lockout, and defenseman Filip Kuba skated with them for the first time since 2000.

Panthers training camp

When/where: Tuesday, 10 a.m.; Saveology.com Iceplex, Coral Springs.

Admission: Free.

Directions: The Iceplex is located one-half mile east of the Sawgrass Expressway off Sample Road and Sportsplex Drive.

Season opener: Saturday vs. Carolina; BB&T Center, Sunrise, 7:30 p.m.


Filip Kuba was standing in a hallway in the Panthers training facility Sunday morning when radio voice Randy Moller approached him.

“Did you ever think you would be back here?” Moller asked. “Sometimes things come full circle. Life is funny that way.”

Kuba smiled and nodded, acknowledging that the last time he wore a Panthers jersey was quite a long time ago.

Drafted in the eighth round by the Panthers in 1995, Kuba, 36, was back with the team at its first official practice Monday. He spent four seasons in the organization, including 18 games with the Panthers over two seasons from 1998 to 2000.

Then he was traded to Calgary before being claimed by Minnesota in the expansion draft of 2000 at the age of 23.

Kuba has seen quite a bit since the Panthers got rid of him as the defenseman has played in 792 NHL games with Florida, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Ottawa.

“Obviously, when I got moved it was something I didn’t like and was sour about,” Kuba said after his first practice with the Panthers in 13 years.

“But I got a chance in Minnesota. I really didn’t think about what was going on here. I was out west. But the past few years I have been watching.”

The Panthers brought Kuba back in July, signing the Tampa resident to a two-year deal worth $8 million.

Since Kuba was traded away for the lightly used Rocky Thompson, the team has changed ownership three times — H. Wayne Huizenga’s Boca Resorts group controlled the team in 2000 — and has had one front office change after another.

Kevin Dineen is the eighth coach the Panthers have had since Kuba left; Dale Tallon is the eighth general manager.

Those rudderless days seem to be behind the Panthers, one reason Kuba was attracted to come back as a free agent. Moller, in fact, is one of the few recognizable faces left from 2000.

“The organization is going in the right direction,” he said. “That’s a big reason why I’m here.”

On Monday, Kuba was paired with veteran Brian Campbell. Florida signed Kuba to replace Jason Garrison — who signed with Vancouver a few hours after Kuba came to the Panthers.

Kuba didn’t take Garrison’s number (the 52 went to Jon Rheault) but did take his locker and a spot opposite the slick-passing Campbell.

“We were trying to talk on the bench after shifts, talk about things I like and he likes,” Campbell said. “It’s a challenge, but it was like that last year. ... It’s early yet, but I have confidence in things. He reminds me of players I’ve played with in the past. It’ll be a little adjustment, but we’ll be fine.”

Tallon, a strong defenseman in his day, joked that Campbell is so smooth “I could play with him.”

Kuba, Tallon said, won’t have a problem fitting in.

“He and Brian looked like they’ve been playing together all their lives,” Tallon said. “It looks good.”

Huberdeau’s status

Rookie forward Jonathan Huberdeau didn’t practice Monday as the Panthers gave him a day off because of what Dineen described as “a few aches and pains” coming off the World Junior Championship tournament in Russia. Tallon said Huberdeau would be on the ice Tuesday.

“It was a minor little thing we had to get checked out by the doctors,” Tallon said. “He’s ready to go.”

Dineen said defenseman Erik Gudbranson (shoulder) and center Marcel Goc (ankle) will miss at least the first three games of the season.

Gudbranson isn’t being paid by the team because he was hurt wakeboarding in Canada in September. Goc was hurt playing for a German team during the Spengler Cup, and Tallon said he isn’t being paid until he is medically cleared.

With Goc out, Dineen said he would use Peter Mueller at center. On Monday, he centered the second line with veteran right winger Alex Kovalev, who is in camp trying out for a contract. Huberdeau is expected to be on the left side of that line.

• Tallon said assistant general manager Mike Santos has taken over the negotiations with the agent for restricted free agent Dmitry Kulikov. “Mike is really good at what he does,” Tallon said. “I’m sure he’ll get him done.”

Read more Top Sports Stories stories from the Miami Herald

Phillies fans show their desire to have Pete Rose inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday, July 30, 1995, before the start of the Hall of Fame Inductions in Cooperstown, N.Y.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: It’s time to welcome Pete Rose back to baseball

    Twenty-five years ago this week Pete Rose was banished for life from baseball, and thus from the red carpet ride he would have taken into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Sympathy hasn’t often come his way since, partly because Rose can come off as irascible, unlikable, his own worst enemy — but mostly because he agreed to his ban, with a swipe of a pen trading immortality for indelible notoriety.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">back in the flow: </span>Hurricanes quarterback Jake Heaps gets ready to fire a pass at Wednesday’s practice.

    um football

    University of Miami QB Jake Heaps healthy, happy to be back on field

    Hurricanes quarterback Jake Heaps missed Monday’s scrimmage because of a sore elbow but said he felt good Wednesday during both practices.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Big fish</span>: Giancarlo Stanton is in line for a mega payday, and the Marlins can’t afford to let him walk.

    David J. Neal: The bottom line: Miami Marlins are building a contender as long as Stanton is re-signed

    Dan Jennings and Mike Hill must perform the Herculean task of keeping Giancarlo Stanton’s brawny bat from taking the road most traveled by Marlins’ prospects who develop into stars. They gained the salary space to do so on those two seemingly dark days in 2012 when the Marlins deconstructed the team built to play in the newly constructed Marlins Park.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category