After being traded to the Florida Panthers in July, Sam Reinhart said he had no resentment towards the Buffalo Sabers.
He was keen to contact Sabers general manager Kevyn Adams the day after the transaction during the 2021 NHL Draft.
âI thought it was important to contact him when we have had a little more time to digest a bit,â said Reinhart.
âIt’s not a 20-second conversation. I respect him, I respect everyone who is still there. So, no hard feelings.
With his first clash against his former team Thursday night at Sunrise, Reinhart says he’s ready to get back on the ice and face his former teammates.
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“I’m pretty excited,” Reinhart said after Thursday morning practice
âI was there long enough and it was the only place I knew, a lot of friendships that have continued even though I’m in a new organization, these go much further from the rink.
“All the staff they have there are all great guys and it’s just nice to be able to catch up the last couple of days.”
While he would have preferred the first meeting against the Sabers to be in Buffalo, Reinhart is ready to step on the ice and play against his former team.
“Probably [would] feel a little more, just with the general environment returning to Buffalo, âReinhart said. “I spent a lot of years there, but I can’t wait to come back and play another one tonight.”
The adjustment period was accompanied by a rapid turnaround. Reinhart started training camp with a new team for the first time since being drafted by Buffalo.
Injuries in the Panthers roster have also caused Reinhart to move up and down the roster and play with different players.
âI think there’s been a lot of rolling so far, a lot of shuffling and pairing, a few injuries that we’ve had to juggle here and there,â said Reinhart.
“But I think the important thing about this group is depth, from a striker’s point of view there are a lot of guys you can play with, a lot of guys you can create chances with, so it was fun. “
Interim coach Andrew Brunette is impressed with the way Reinhart has handled the change and moved to South Florida.
“It’s always difficult to change teams and I think he’s a real brain player,” said Brunette. I think it’s hard to find a chemistry with guys it’s hard to know where you fit in and with the success we had last year he is just trying to find his way and it gets a little hard .
âI think he did a great job. We move it all over the place, we always try to figure it out a bit too, but with every line it comes forward it generates an attack somehow.
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Brandon Montour, someone he shared the ice with in Buffalo for three seasons, was already with the Panthers after being traded there during the 2021 trade deadline.
Montour was delighted to welcome his former teammate to town after the trade.
âIt was great, he’s a great guy off the ice,â he said. âWe are friends and obviously, on the ice, you could see his talent. So on both sides, off the ice and on the ice, it’s great to have him by our side.
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Montour was a free agent at the time of the trade, but was already looking to re-sign with the Panthers even before the trade was concluded.
“No, the Panthers were still on the roster,” Montour said when asked if Reinhart’s arrival had anything to do with his decision to sign again.
“We were going to find a way to sign, adding that Sam helped me, but just from last year, the end of the year, experiencing the time I had here, there was no idea that I was going to come back eventually. “
Having a familiar face on the team – a friend, as Montour described – also helped Reinhart’s transition to the Panthers.
âI think it helps the transition for sure,â Brunette said. âIt makes you a little more comfortable, a familiar face, someone you know and knows you a little bit.
“[Montour] was here last year, so he was able to bring [Reinhart] in the group and the transition looks seamless.
Since arriving in Florida, Reinhart has become a key member of the Panthers roster, scoring five goals, totaling 13 points in 22 games this season.
âI was really impressed with his puckless play and handling of the game,â said Brunette. âHe’s a smart player, but he seems to enjoy the big moments of putting the pucks in the right areas and some of those little things that really help our hockey club.
He had one of those great moments on Tuesday, scoring the game-winning goal with 14.4 seconds left in regulation to cap a four-goal comeback in a 5-4 win over the Washington Capitals.
âIt feels good to finish this comeback and gain regulation,â said Reinhart. “For this crowd tonight, it’s a big hit for us.”
Gus Forsling has started skating for the first time since being placed on the injured list on Sunday.
Brunette says he’s still “week to week” and will be assessed tomorrow.
Anthony Duclair was not there for morning practice after skating on Tuesday.
Brunette says he stays “day to day” without suffering any setbacks. He hopes to have Duclair back for practice on Friday.
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