By Bill Whitehead
A couple of quick notes from the end of Florida’s developmental camp:
SEASONAL FRENCH: If any of Florida’s English-speaking-only prospects is going to learn French simply by the company he keeps, look no further than forward Rocco Grimaldi, who hears plenty of French during summer camp.
The 5-foot-6 University of North Dakota player roomed with Jonathan Huberdeau in a previous camp, and the pair playfully kidded one another often, even taking the joking to Twitter. Grimaldi took shots at the Quebec-born Huberdeau’s troubles with English – though in reality it’s quite good – while Grimaldi’s short stature was a source of Huberdeau’s Twitter teasing.
In this year’s camp, Grimaldi was paired with Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, native Francis Beauvillier. On the last day of camp following the scrimmage, Beauvillier was casually chatting with the media about how certain English words were borrowed from French – the word petard, from “hoisted by one’s own petard,” for example – when Grimaldi came by.
Upon hearing Beauvillier’s explanation in English, Grimaldi couldn’t resist a final dig before exiting: “Most of the English he speaks, I taught him.”
NO TRANSLATION: Speaking of linguistic strides, forward Alexander Delnov was seen doing one-on-one for interviews without an interpreter. When Florida drafted Delnov in the fourth round in Pittsburgh last year, Delnov spoke broken English and needed the assistance of Vadim Podrezov, Florida’s scout in Russia.
It’s no surprise that Podrezov came to the rescue. He and Delnov hail from Mytischi, a town just northeast of Moscow. Podrezov helped put the Panthers on to Delnov, vouching for the speed and talent of the 19-year-old who idolized former Panther great Pavel Bure.
Florida hopes Delnov (below, left) becomes one of two Russian major finds. Two years ago in Minnesota, the Panthers drafted Delnov’s countryman Yaroslav Kosov (right), who completely bypassed the interview room because of the language barrier. A fifth-round selection, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound right winger has played two seasons for Magnitogorsk Mettalurg in the KHL and scored a hat trick against Germany on the way to earning a bronze medal in this past WJC tournament held in Kosov’s homeland. Scott Luce, Florida’s scouting director, said in St. Paul at the draft that he felt the organization had found a hidden gem in Kosov, who just turned 20.
SIZING HIM UP: One Panther who meandered in and out of the dressing room was Huberdeau, whose name slotted low on the list for the exit meetings the team was conducting with each player. Huberdeau said he had received a smaller replica of the Calder Trophy, but what stood out the most about Huberdeau, in his third year in the organization, was the muscle he had added on his 6-foot-1 frame.
No one will ever confuse Huberdeau with any winners of the Mr. Universe contest, but he’s also no longer the lanky lad who showed up to camp in 2011 and who’s biggest advice was that he needed to add weight.
Look for a slightly bulkier red No. 11 sweater flying toward opposing goalies next season.
SCANT FEW: The best deal in hockey is heading toward the finish line as the Panthers announced that its new $7 season ticket offer, which it implemented during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final last month — has nearly sold out. Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced Tuesday that less than 50 tickets remain.
Fans who sign up will receive a free jersey, free parking, four free concerts at the BB&T Center, a $25 Duffy’s gift card and more for just $7 per game.
Interested fans can call 954-835-PUCK or got to FloridaPanthers.com to order their tickets.
LOOSE PUCKS: Florida announced its preseason schedule Tuesday afternoon. The team opens with a doubleheader on Monday, Sept. 16, against Nashville at 2:30 and 7 at the BB&T Center. Florida then travels to Dallas to face the Stars two days later, and again in San Antonio on Sept. 20. The Panthers then play three games against the Lightning — Sept. 21 in Tampa, Sept. 26 in Estero at Germain Arena and two days later at home…Florida inked center Greg Rallo and defenseman Michael Caruso to one-year, two-way contracts.