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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 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48


J. Huberdeau 71 13 32 7 45
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 73 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 69 13 25 -4 38
B. Boyes 72 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 73 11 24 10 35
J. Hayes 64 18 13 -4 31
A. Barkov 63 12 17 -2 29
B. Campbell 74 3 21 1 24
B. Pirri 41 20 2 5 22
R. Luongo 26 17 11 .922 2.32
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
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