SUNRISE, Fla. – Make no mistake, we've entered uncharted territory.
You'd be hard pressed to find someone whose life hasn't been affected, one way or another, by the global outbreak of COVID-19.
As preventative measures began spreading like wildfire, seemingly every source of live sports, from the NBA to my son's tee ball league, were cancelled, postponed, or in the case of the NHL, put on pause.
With the first cloud of quarantine dust beginning to settle, many across the country are hunkered down in their homes, wondering how long this new reality will last; a new reality in which 'Netflix and chill' has been replaced by 'Netflix and sanitize'.
For all intents and purposes, the NHL, and every other major professional sports league currently in-season, has gone full stop. (thank goodness for NFL free agent news, because if not for that, hoo boy…)
That being the case, anyone looking for fresh Florida Panthers content during the past couple weeks have been met with similar frustration as those shopping for toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
The lack of new reading material due to the NHL's pause on the 2019-20 season is unavoidable, especially at a time when many players and media members haven't left their homes in days due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With that in mind, I've decided to post a series of stories that include quotes and information from Panthers players that were intended for larger pieces later in the season.
With no indication of if and when games will resume, it seemed silly to sit on this stuff and hope for the chance to finish it down the line. Instead, I figured it would be a good idea to put together what I've got now, as so many of us are desperate for some new hockey content to enjoy.
The first installment explores the idea of giving players their own individual goal song. It's a concept similar to what's seen in Major League Baseball, which generally gives every player their own walk-up song as they prepare to bat.
The goal song practice has been used before, most recently in the NHL by the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks.
There has been no indication that the Panthers have thought about following suit, but it seemed like a fun idea to get a head start on and find out, if given the option, which songs the players would choose.
As you can imagine, some answers were better than others. Most players I spoke with put a good amount of thought into their choice, perhaps none more than Frank Vatrano, who told me to come back at least twice because he wanted to come up with the perfect song.
Player: Keith Yandle
Song: “Three” by Britany Spears
Reason: “Because it’s number three.” (Yandle wears jersey No. 3).
Player: Evgenii Dadonov
Reason: "It's kind of complicated. I would choose something (popular in America) but I listen to more Russian music. Right now I don't have an answer. Not a rock song. Something popular. Just one that I would really like, maybe get me more pumped up."
Player: Brett Connolly
Song: Anything by Drake
Reason: "Anything Drake for me would be manageable. It does the trick."
Player: Mike Hoffman
Song: "$50's and $100's" by French Montana
Reason: "We've got it going in the room right now, and it gets you going."
Player: Jonathan Huberdeau
Song: "Space Jam" by Quad City DJ's
Reason: “I remember in junior we did the Space Jam song, it says like ‘Hey, you…’ and it kind of sounds like my name, so it would probably be that one. It wasn’t saying my name, but it seems like it does, so that’s what I like about it.”
Player: Mark Pysyk
Song: Something by Garth Brooks
Reason: "Garth Brooks probably, or Ed Sheeran. Thinking goal songs, there's not much that's super exciting from them. But isn't the goal exciting enough? True, you don't need the song to be exciting. So yeah, something from those two. Probably Garth."
Side note: Pysyk’s choice of Garth Brooks was successfully predicted by Yandle.
Player: Dominic Toninato
Song: "Big Rings" by Drake
Reason: “It talks about winning with your team. Having a really big team and really big rings. I love music, but I’m not good with titles. I usually just throw shuffle on and enjoy whatever comes on.”
Player: Mike Matheson
Song: "Living" by Dierks Bentley
Reason: "It's a good song. I like that one right now. I mean, when you score a goal, you're living, right?"
Matheson also suggested a song for Yandle; something with “Milky Way” in the title, though he didn’t remember the exact name. What special about that for Yands? “It’s a complete inside joke,” he said with a laugh. “He’ll just be upset.”
Player: Aleksi Saarela
Song: "Final Countdown" by Europe
Reason: "That's my hometown team's goal song in Finland. It's kind of weird to have your own goal song, but I felt like it would be cool to have the same goal song for me that I had back home in Finland."
For those wondering, Aleksi's hometown team is Lukko Rauma, which plays in Liiga (the Finnish Elite League). Another side note, Saarela has used "Final Countdown" as his goal song already, as the practice has been used by the AHL's Charlotte Checkers, where Saarela played parts of three seasons while under contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Player: Erik Haula
Song: "Get Ur Freak On" by Missy Elliott
Reason: “The Missy Elliott song I think has followed me everywhere I’ve gone; It goes ’Holla holla holla.' I think I would have to pick that just because, everywhere I’ve gone, that’s kinda been it. It’s hard to pick a goal song. It’s something where people would know that it would be my song, so I think that’s it.”
Player: Noel Acciari
Song: "Pony" by Ginuwine
Reason: "I think it would make people laugh and get excited. Hopefully there's enough cheering you won't even hear it." He added that he "used to do a nice dance to it, Magic Mike-style."
Acciari also suggested a song for teammate Frank Vatrano: “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter.
Reason: “He’s always moody, so I’d probably give him that one.”
Player: Frank Vatrano
Reason: “I need some time to think about this; it’s a serious question.”
Player: Brian Boyle
Song: "Sunflower" by Post Malone and Swae Lee
Reason: “I’d let my son pick it. He likes that “Sunflower” song by Post Malone. He does like “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphys, so that’s an option, too. I got him into Queen a little bit, so he likes “We Will Rock You.” I put that on in the car. It’s fun. He’s four, he’s getting into them.”
Player: Aleksander Barkov
Song: Anything by Kygo
Reason: “I love Kygo’s music, so maybe something Kygo. There’s so many good ones. If I have to think of something related to me, it will take a while.”