Florida Panthers

Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky plan to rebound for Panthers

Tomas Fleischmann went from leading the Panthers in scoring during his first two seasons in Florida to potting just eight goals last season.
Tomas Fleischmann went from leading the Panthers in scoring during his first two seasons in Florida to potting just eight goals last season. Miami Herald Staff

The Panthers had a season most would like to forget last year.

Tomas Fleischmann doesn’t even want to talk about it.

“I’ve already forgotten about last year,’’ Fleischmann said after Sunday’s third day of training camp in Coral Springs.

Not only did the Panthers finish 29th out of 30 teams last season, but players such as Fleischmann and Tomas Kopecky struggled to score.

Fleischmann went from leading the Panthers in scoring during his first two seasons in Florida to potting just eight goals — his lowest total since he became a full-time NHL player in 2007 with the Capitals.

“Every year is a rough one when you don’t play good,’’ said Fleischmann, who at one point went 22 games (Dec.19-Feb.27) between goals. Fleischmann also went through droughts of 14 and 10 games last season.

“As I’ve said, I’ve forgotten about last year. There’s nothing I can change about it, so I’m not going to think about it anymore,’’ he said. “When I started working out for the next year, I never thought about it.’’

Kopecky had a strong year in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, tying his career-high with 15 goals. Last season, however, was an absolute nightmare.

Not only did Kopecky struggle to score, but his season also was cut short after he sustained a concussion thanks to a brutal hit during the Olympics.

For two months, Kopecky wasn’t allowed any physical activity.

When he was medically cleared, Kopecky said he went all out in the gym in preparation for this season.

“I started preparing for this season basically in April,’’ said Kopecky, who scored four goals in 49 games with Florida last season.

“Everyone knows what happened last year was unacceptable. For me, personally, I took it to heart. I tried to come to camp in the best shape, and I’m healthy. This is going to be a big year for us. I’m super-excited.’’

General manager Dale Tallon said the Panthers are counting on big bounce-back seasons from the likes of Fleischmann and Kopecky.

Of the large group of players Tallon brought in during his roster remake in 2011, only a handful remain.

Kopecky, Fleischmann and Scottie Upshall — who had his rebound year last season — are all in the final year of their contracts, making their production this season even more important.

“It’s a new chance for those guys, what with a new coaching staff and all,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said.

“I think there was a lot of disappointment for individuals as well as a group and a team. They finished 29th [in the NHL] and no one was happy about it. They all want to bounce back. I don’t look at the numbers ... I know the players we have.’’

Fleischmann said he’s not worried about next year or a new contract.

“That’s something my agent should think about, not me,’’ he said.

Fleischmann just wants to get back to playing at the level he was and help the Panthers return to the postseason.

Like training camp in 2011, the Panthers are flush in new faces. Like that year, optimism for the new season runs high.

“This definitely feels similar to 2011,’’ Fleischmann said. “There’s excitement in the air, I mean we could be a playoff-team good. We can’t wait to get the season started.’’

Said Kopecky: “Last year is behind me. I had a good a summer, I have no symptoms [from the concussion]. I’m ready to go.’’

PANTHERS TRAINING CAMP

▪ Tuesday: Dual practices (split squad) at Coral Springs IceDen, 11 a.m.

▪ Wednesday: First preseason game vs. Dallas Stars at BB&T Center, 7:30 p.m.

▪ Thursday: Off day.

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