Now that incredibleIce, the Florida Panthers practice facility in Coral Springs, has opened its newest practice rink for business, it was time to revisit its hockey-hounding capabilities. Moody, Hound Central 5.0's roving Southeast correspondent, shares that it's still worth a trip, though different methods need to be employed.
Early indications still ring true that conditions once affording easy hounding opportunities inside the facility no longer exist. Limitations that restrict access to the players do, indeed, remain:
This barrier maintains a 30-feet buffer from the players' locker room entrance. Yes, it could be possible to call over players, but it seems like a stretch to expect them to make the trip. And, please, don't be a fool and cross the barrier. Why ruin it for everyone?
The facility, however, offers this viewing room where hounds and fans can take in practices in a climate-controlled environment. Remember, this being South Florida, that's a big factor. It can get warm outside during the season.
Moody also reports that the viewing room is used by local sports media to conduct interviews for television broadcasts. This affords the only in-person opportunity for autographs inside the facility.
Thankfully, at least for South Florida hounds, it doesn't mean that it's impossible to get autographs. All it takes is a willingness to catch the players outside the facility. For visiting teams, and Moody's hoping to conduct a field trip soon for verification, the front entrance might be the best place to score autographs from players.
Unless a team's bus parks in the gated lot, and conditions do allow for this, players may likely follow last season's drill and walk along this sidewalk -- near the front entrance to the facility -- before and after practices. If this is the case, it represents the best opportunity to score some autographs.
As for the Panthers, Moody reports most of the players use the facility's rear entrance. In this visit last month, he got autographs from David Booth (shown stopping to sign in the top photo), Scott Clemmensen, Michael Frolik, Nathan Horton, Ville Koistenen, Jordan Leopold, Bryan McCabe, Steve Reinprecht and Tomas Vokoun.
Those who used the front entrance were Bryan Allen, Dominic Moore, Rostislav Olesz, Cory Stillman (who parked in the public lot by the front door) and members of the coaching staff.
Keep in mind, though, that the rear entrance, which no longer utilizes a security guard, provides no protection from the sun and heat. Remember to wear sunscreen (don't forget a towel to wipe off your mitts, too) and bring plenty of fluids to maintain some level of comfort.