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Sticking For The Season

Head coach Kevin Dineen announces that defenseman Erik Gudbranson will stay with the Panthers for the season following morning skate.

Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 5:45 PM ET / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Sticking For The Season
Erik Gudbranson
Players/Gudbranson Celebrate News
Gudbranson On Staying
Dineen On Gudbranson Staying
During practice on Wednesday Panthers GM Dale Tallon said that he was leaning on keeping defenseman Erik Gudbranson with the Panthers following the nine-game cutoff but wouldn't decide until Friday following the Panthers-Senators game.

With Gudbranson playing in his ninth game in his hometown Thursday night, the Panthers decided to bump that timeline up and surprise the 19-year old early instead. Head coach Kevin Dineen brought all of the players together on the ice following the morning skate and announced that Gudbranson would be sticking with the club for the season.

The players all mobbed Gudbranson for congratulations following the news.

"I sat there this morning and I was kind of wondering how I was going to deliver that," said Dineen. "A lot of times in this business, you're delivering bad news. It's nice to be able to let somebody know that that's a heck of an occasion, not only for him but for his family, for his minor league coaches. I think a lot of people can enjoy that.

"I thought about doing it after the game tonight but really, you know what, playing in your hometown, there's enough stuff going on already so I think it was the right call to let him know and let him know in front of his teammates as well."

"It was nice. My dad was in the crowd for morning skate so he got to see that," said Gudbranson. "That was nice for him. I'm still at a loss for words."

Gudbranson's dad Wayne, who was in attendance for practice on Wednesday and then watching the morning skate, teared up when he saw the scene happening before his eyes. All for good reason.

"As much as it's a dream for me, I'm pretty sure that it's twice as exciting for him to see his kid do that and I give them all the credit in the world," said Gudbranson. "Him and my mom, my brothers and sister. It's pretty unbelievable."

"I think it's great news for not only Erik but that's a reflection on your family as well and I don't think anything is given at this level," said Dineen. "You have to earn it and that's what he's done the last eight games."

In those eight games, Gudbranson has played well. Despite being a minus-four, he hasn't looked out of place, averaging 12:14 of ice time while partnering mostly with veteran Ed Jovanovski. He's stuck up for his teammates when need be and hasn't backed down from anyone.

"I really felt confident coming into camp this year," said Gudbranson. "I was excited to be here. I felt like it was my time this year and to get the news this morning was awesome."

For Gudbranson, the weight is off his shoulders as he doesn't have to worry about going back to his junior team in Kingston.

"It was always in the back of my head," said Gudbranson. "I think I did a pretty good job of just leaving it there and not thinking about it while I was playing but definitely knowing that I'm a part of this team for sure now and staying for the year is awesome."

But Thursday night, it will be all about really starting his pro career in his home town, one in which he had to get about 25 tickets for family and friends.

"There's so many emotions going through stepping on the ice like that. In my home town, the team I grew up watching," said Gudbranson. "It's going to be awesome. I'm trying not to think of it. I'm trying to go out there and play a simple game and play well and be able to make a difference out there."




1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47


J. Jagr 49 16 21 11 37
J. Huberdeau 52 10 27 10 37
A. Barkov 42 16 19 13 35
J. Jokinen 52 10 25 12 35
V. Trocheck 52 17 16 4 33
R. Smith 52 16 15 11 31
B. Pirri 48 10 13 -4 23
A. Ekblad 48 10 12 21 22
B. Campbell 52 4 16 17 20
N. Bjugstad 37 9 8 -3 17
R. Luongo 23 13 5 .930 2.13
A. Montoya 8 2 1 .931 1.93

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