Florida Panthers

With deals made early, Panthers stay quiet at trade deadline

Scottie Upshall’s goal broke a 3-all tie against Buffalo.
Scottie Upshall’s goal broke a 3-all tie against Buffalo. AP

The most exciting part of Monday’s trade deadline for the Panthers was captain Willie Mitchell taking exception to a comment by a Canadian television analyst and responding to it on Twitter.

Yeah, it was a slow news day.

With general manager Dale Tallon making three trades last week — including one for future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr — there wasn’t much to do come Monday.

Tallon was believed to be shopping pending free agents Tomas Kopecky and Scottie Upshall, but by 3 p.m. Florida didn’t make any deals.

“We did most of our work early as did most teams. There wasn’t a lot going on,’’ Tallon said.

“Teams had done their trades over the past few weeks. We looked at possibilities with other teams and other players, but we knew this was going to be a quiet day. We wanted to help our offense, but it’s hard to do that.’’

Florida’s four pending free agents had been on the market all season with Tallon dealing away Sean Bergenheim last Tuesday and Tomas Fleischmann on Saturday.

Although Kopecky and Upshall may not be in the plans of the Panthers, they are part of their immediate future and can help Florida in its quest for a playoff spot.

Upshall’s goal Saturday broke a 3-3 tie in an eventual 5-3 win over the Sabres; Kopecky was back in the lineup on Sunday and had two key scoring chances against the Lightning.

“We’re in the hunt, two points out,’’ Tallon said. “Team morale is very high, we have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Team chemistry is important, and you don’t want to disrupt that.’’

So now, the Panthers move forward.

With 19 games remaining, coach Gerard Gallant knows who is on his team moving forward.

The Panthers currently have 21 players on the roster, so they have room when Mitchell and center Dave Bolland return from injury.

“Tuesday will be a good day for us because we can move on, we know what our team is for the final games,’’ Gallant said over the weekend. “It’s tough for the guys who are involved in that, but they are pros and know this is part of the business. It will sort itself out.’’

Said Upshall: “We know we have 15, 16 forwards and decisions need to be made. As a pro, you just do your job, come to play. We all want to be on this team, make the playoffs here.’’

As for Mitchell, he didn’t like snide remarks made toward the Panthers by Sportsnet commentator Glenn Healy including one comment in which he referred to Florida as the “mighty Panthers.”

That led Mitchell to send a tweet toward Healy poking fun at his 14-year career as an NHL goalie — as well as making an unprintable suggestion.

Mitchell’s tweet caught the attention of the Sportsnet crew with former Panthers coach Doug MacLean defending Mitchell and his former team while good-naturedly ribbing Healy.

Roberto Luongo, himself a master of Twitter, jumped into the fray as well, posting a picture of a crying Terrell Owens with the line “that’s my captain!”

Again, it was a slow day.

“God bless Willie,’’ Tallon said with a chuckle. “He’s a great captain and he’s a Panther. We have a good group who really care for each other and believe in themselves, believe in our team. It’s all good.’’

▪ Tallon said Mitchell is close to returning from his undisclosed upper-body injury. Bolland is expected to join the Panthers for Tuesday’s morning skate.

▪ Former Panthers captain Olli Jokinen won’t return to Sunrise on Tuesday as Toronto traded him to St. Louis for a sixth-round draft pick.

Jokinen made his Toronto debut after being traded there from Nashville against the Panthers on Feb. 17.

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