Florida is known for its beaches, its elderly, and its inability to convict obviously guilty criminals. It is not, however, known for hockey. Well, maybe Tampa is. But the Florida Panthers aren't exactly shiny beacons of hockey hope. Which is a shame, because they've got a lot going for them this season. General manager Dale Tallon is going to continue to help the Panthers achieve their hockey dreams. For those not in the know, Tallon was the GM for the Blackhawks when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010. Unfortunately, last season, the Panthers were not at their best. But having a spotty record the previous season has its perks too. The Cats were able to use their second-overall draft pick to get Aleksander Barkov, a big Finnish center. They also picked up defenseman Ian McCoshen as well as six other goal-hungry hockey players. In all they got four defensemen, three forwards, and a goaltender, which should make this upcoming season one to watch. Led by captain Ed Jovanovski, the Panthers open the preseason on Monday playing a double-header (which means two games, for you nonsports folk) against the Nashville Predators at the BB&T Center, located at 1 Panther Parkway in Sunrise, at 2:30 and 7 p.m. There's a little déjà vu there: This is the second time the Cats will play a double-header as their opener, as both Nashville and Florida opened the preseason playing each other twice in 2011. Call 954-835-7000 or visit ticketmaster.com.
Mon., Sept. 16, 2:30 & 7 p.m., 2013