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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 / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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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."
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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 76 16 22 -14 38
S. Upshall 76 15 22 1 37
B. Campbell 82 7 30 -6 37
B. Boyes 78 21 15 -6 36
S. Bergenheim 62 16 13 -16 29
J. Huberdeau 69 9 19 -5 28
T. Fleischmann 80 8 20 -18 28
T. Gilbert 73 3 25 -5 28
B. Pirri 49 13 12 6 25
A. Barkov 54 8 16 -3 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 23 7 .919 2.40
S. Clemmensen 6 7 1 .896 3.09
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