The suspense is over, and while we might not like it, we have to understand it. The Florida Panthers announced earlier today that rookie forward Jonathan Huberdeau would be returned to his junior team the Saint John Sea Dogs. Huberdeau made this an extremely difficult decision for the Panthers, however in the long run this is the right decision.
Huberdeau doesn’t need to be rushed, and the Panthers organization has indicated many times that they will not rush their young players, putting them in situations that they may not be ready for. Here’s a brief quote from head coach Kevin Dineen:
“He made that an extremely tough decision for us, given his maturity as a person and his play,” Dineen said of Huberdeau, before adding, “at this time, he still has some physical maturing to do and that is better suited at the junior level.”
General manager Dale Tallon indicated how difficult this decision was, but also felt that it was in Jonathan’s best interest as well:
“It was tempting, really tempting. But you’ve got to make the decision that’s best long term, for the kid’s benefit and our benefit,” said Tallon. “You could tell there’s a vulnerability as far as the size, but we know we didn’t mess up on the draft, that’s for sure.”
“You’ve got 220-pound, 30-year-old guys leaning on him; he’s not playing against 160-pound, 170-pound kids. And you go deeper into the season, more vulnerability as far as getting hurt, and we’re here for the long haul. We know that he can play…It’s exciting for our franchise to know we have that.”
While Huberdeau had what would be described as an excellent training camp, combined with his performance in the preseason games he played in, this is the right move. Let him go back, continue to build his confidence, add some weight to his frame, and allow him to compete next season for a roster spot.
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