The Panthers will likely begin training camp without a handful of their biggest names -- including their head coach.
But Jaromir Jagr's here, so, they'll get started anyway.
The Panthers officially report to the start of camp Thursday morning with physicals, testing, photo shoots and other points of business at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.
On Friday morning, they hit the ice as an official group — mostly — for the first time since they lost Game 6 of their Stanley Cup playoff opener against the New York Islanders in Brooklyn.
That series loss stung the Panthers, and forged quite a change.
The Panthers quickly went about retooling their front office, coaching staff, roster and even overhauled their logo and uniforms.
Although plenty of core pieces remain, the Panthers made enough changes to be noticed this offseason.
The changes weren't made as window dressing, either.
The Panthers feel they are a better team today than they were that night in Brooklyn when the Islanders celebrated a 2-1 victory in double overtime to move onto the second round while the dejected Panthers headed home.
"Expectations are high, as they should be,'' said Tom Rowe, who was promoted to general manager in April as Dale Tallon now oversees hockey operations.
"We have a good team and a good coaching staff. As tough as it was making some of the moves we made, we felt we needed to add a different element and more options.
"The easy thing would have been to stand pat. We haven't been private about too much — we have to manage the cap and two of the moves were due to that. We're $9 million under the cap and really like our roster.”
Said Nick Bjugstad: "We took a step last year and now it's time to take an even bigger one this year. It was fun to get a taste of playoff hockey and I think that makes us hungrier this time. For some of us young guys, that was our first try at it. We're not so young anymore. We're making progress. We want nothing more than to win."
The Panthers are expected to start camp without coach Gerard Gallant, who is serving as an assistant for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.
Vincent Trocheck and Aaron Ekblad are part of that team as well, only Ekblad suffered a concussion Sunday night and his status for Florida's camp is unknown at this point.
Jussi Jokinen and Sasha Barkov should join the Panthers shortly after Finland finishes up in Toronto.
Although there are some missing faces, the Panthers bring back plenty of familiar ones from a team which set franchise marks with 47 wins, 103 points and an Atlantic Division title last season.
Jagr was back on Florida ice working with goalie Roberto Luongo — who is coming back from an offseason hip procedure but looks ready to start the year.
With Jagr back, Florida will open with two-thirds of its top line as Jonathan Huberdeau returns fresh off signing a six-year contract extension.
Florida's defense has been overhauled with four opening night starters gone either via trade (Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov), free agency (Brian Campbell) or assumed retirement (captain Willie Mitchell).
"It was kind of a crazy offseason for our team with all the trades and things, but we added a lot of good personnel," Bjugstad said. "We've all been skating together, going out to eat and getting to know each other. It seems like we're starting to gel a little. We have some great players, there's no reason for us not to have another great season."
With so many new faces added to what was a close-knit group, the Panthers figure there will be some growing pains.
Nothing like close quarters — and a bunch of preseason road games — during training camp to work things out.
"As a group, we're looking forward to see quickly the chemistry can come together," Rowe said.
Florida Panthers Training camp
▪ When, where: Practice begins Friday morning; Florida Panthers IceDen, Coral Springs
▪ Schedule — Friday: 9:45 a.m; Saturday: 9:45 a.m.; Sunday: 9:45 a.m.; Monday: 9:45 a.m.; Tuesday: Preseason doubleheader vs. Nashville Predators, BB&T Center, 3:30/7 p.m.
▪ Admission: Free to all practices; preseason games, various pricing