SUNRISE, Fla. – Jiri Sekac will make his debut with his new team and Richard Panik will be back in the lineup when the Blackhawks face the Florida Panthers Friday night.
Scott Darling will get the start in net.
The Blackhawks acquired Sekac from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Ryan Garbutt on Thursday. Coach Joel Quenneville said Sekac will likely start on that fourth line, but he wasn’t sure if he’d be left or right wing.
Panik is back in after being benched on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The forward, acquired earlier this month by the Blackhawks, overslept morning skate.
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“We were staying like 30 minutes away, so I woke up at 11 [a.m.] and I knew I’m not going to make it,” Panik said. “It was terrifying, especially when I’m new on the team. Now I get a chance to play and I’ve got to play good.”
Panik said he understood why he didn’t play.
“It can’t happen,” he said. “I’m a professional athlete and it can’t happen. And like I said, it’s not going to happen again.”
Meanwhile, Sekac had an earlier wake-up call on Thursday: this one let him know he’d been traded to the Blackhawks. Sekac wasn’t expecting to be traded but he’s ready for the opportunity with the Blackhawks.
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“Obviously I’ve seen some Hawks games and the team is very skilled, fast, and they’re all great players. Hopefully I can fit in and be useful for the team,” said Sekac, who also wouldn’t mind latching on with a team for some time. He’s on his third team – Montreal and Anaheim previously – since 2014.
“I think every player is looking for a spot on a team and wants to stay with the same team as long as he can,” he said. “I’m hoping for the same thing.”
Roberto Luongo is expected to start for the Panthers. Former Blackhawks forward Brandon Pirri is expected to be a scratch according to the Panthers media. The Panthers also recalled former Blackhawks defenseman Dylan Olsen earlier today in an emergency situation when Willie Mitchell was placed on injured reserve.