As homecoming games go, this one was a bit different. For starters, it didn’t even count.
Tuesday night, former Star Colton Sceviour returned to Dallas with his new team, the Florida Panthers, for a preseason game. For Sceviour, the surroundings were familiar, but everything else was strange: his uniform, his linemates, even the dressing room was different.
When asked what it was like to be on Dallas ice in a road uniform, the Stars’ fourth-round pick in the 2007 draft said, “It felt a little odd. Before now, it was the only organization I’ve ever played for, so it was kind of odd being at this end, but it’s exciting at the same time. It’s always kind of cool to play your old team.”
Other than needing the first couple of preseason contests to “shake off the rust,” the transition to a new organization has been a fairly easy one for the Red Deer, Alberta native. It helps that the Stars and Panthers play a similar style.
“I think nowadays in the NHL, a lot of teams run similar systems,” he said. “Little tendencies here or there are different, but the main part of the game, there’s only a couple of systems teams run. It makes transitioning smooth. You’ve got to tweak the little things, but the main picture’s the same.”
Seven Years in Dallas
After seven seasons with the Stars organization, Sceviour became an unrestricted free agent July 1. On that date, he signed a two-year, $1.9 million ($950,000 AAV) contract with the Panthers. During his time in Dallas, the organization’s awesome forward depth kept the skilled winger relegated to the fourth line. With Florida, Sceviour has a good chance to climb the depth chart.
Florida’s top two lines are all but set in stone, but the bottom two are up for grabs. On Tuesday, the veteran right wing skated on a line with rookies Dryden Hunt and Denis Malgin. The trio generated several scoring chances in what, for Sceviour, was really an audition for a spot on the Cats’ third line, centered by Nick Bjugstad.
That’s where things get stranger still: Early in the first period, Bjugstad sustained a broken hand in a collision with the Stars’ net.
Florida Panthers Nick Bjugstad rammed into goal cage early in Tuesday’s game at Dallas; broken hand, out four weeks.
— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) October 6, 2016
He left the game having skated just three shifts, for a total ice time of 1:58. As George Richards reported, Bjugstad will miss the next four weeks.
Now, with the regular season just a week away, one of the newest Panthers has no idea who his linemates will be on opening night. Jared McCann and Jonathan Marchessault? Shawn Thornton and Derek Mackenzie? Paul Thompson and Malgin? And which line will that be, third or fourth? Coach Gerard Gallant is still evaluating.
“I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on yet,” Sceviour said. “We’ll have to see how it plays itself out. I’m sure you’ll see the guys’ play will dictate who plays where.”
For Sceviour and his new teammates, the strangeness of the night didn’t end with the 2-1 shootout loss. Post game, the Panthers boarded their team plane to fly home … and into an onrushing hurricane.
As if the former Star needed another reminder that he’s not in Dallas anymore.