Q & A with Panthers’ Mike Matheson

After last season’s postseason appearance the Florida Panthers are finally heading in the right direction. With a nice blend of veterans and youth their roster is set up to continue that success, and 22-year-old defenseman, Mike Matheson, hopes to be a part of the core group that finally stabilizes the franchise, one that has been down for years.

After appearing in his first three NHL games last season, Matheson made the club’s opening night roster and has played in 42 of the Panthers’ 43 games, compiling three goals and 12 points in the process. Like any young player in his situation, he is intent on soaking up information from living legends like Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo which will ultimately help him in his future as an NHL blueliner.

Another outlet for him to tap into for hockey knowledge is his girlfriend Emily Pfalzer, who, like Matheson, played collegiately for the Boston College Eagles; she currently plays for the Buffalo Beauts in the NWHL and with Team USA internationally.

Following the Panthers’ 3-0 whitewashing of the New Jersey Devils in Newark, The Hockey Writers caught up with Matheson to find out what it’s like being teammates with a pair of legends and how he has been able to repay his father for helping him along on this journey to become a professional hockey player.

The Hockey Writers: This was a big shutout for you guys after being shutout in your previous game, right?

Mike Matheson: Yeah for sure, the past few games we’ve been trying to get Lu that win so it’s nice to do it in style for him with a shutout.

THW: While we were waiting outside to come in the locker room we heard a big cheer and round of applause, did you have a little ceremony for him or something?

MM: We were just giving him the game puck. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of guys on this team who have accomplished a lot in their careers so especially for myself as a young guy, it’s pretty incredible to be around guys like that.

THW: Thanks for the perfect setup for our next question- as a younger guy what’s it been like being teammates with legends of the game like Roberto Luongo and Jaromir Jagr? Do you pinch yourself? Is it surreal? Or are you past that point yet?

MM: I definitely try to pick their brains as much as I can, try to soak up everything I can, from everyone. Especially a guy like defenseman Keith Yandle, he just played his 700th game now. There are so many guys on this team that I can learn so much from and I feel very fortunate for that.

THW: Was there any point where you have been nervous around a guy like Jagr, who is like twice your age or something?

MM: Yeah, he is twice my age (laughs). There definitely was that period of…nerves. I think it’s kind of just settled into such a respect. Like I said, it’s just amazing to be able to work with him every single day and try to learn as much as I can from them.

THW: This trip to New Jersey and New York the Panthers have their dads with them, is your father on this trip?

MM: Yeah, he is (smiles). I flew him down as a Christmas present before this trip and he’s been pretty excited; it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve always kind of dreamed of being able to do something special to thank my dad, he was huge for me. Growing up he was my coach most years; he did an amazing job of not trying to be my coach and my dad at the same time. He’d be my coach (at the rink) and then when we’d go home he’d be my dad. I really owe a lot to him and this week is kind of the celebration of all of that.