Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  By Erin Brown  |  Last updated 2/7/14
SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers are eager for a chance to cool off. After the team wraps up Friday night's contest against the Carolina Hurricanes, the NHL will begin an 11-day break while some of its players participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Most NHLers are not headed to Sochi, Russia and would probably welcome the opportunity to escape to a warmer climate. The majority of Florida's players, however, are headed north to reconnect with friends and family. Scott Clemmensen said he will travel to upstate New York, giving his Florida-raised kids the opportunity to play in the snow, which is still an "exciting anomaly for them." But the Panthers goaltender will also be faced with a task tougher than stopping a 100-mph snapshot. "My youngest daughter thinks we're going to be building a snow jaguar," Clemmensen said. "I've never done that before, so we'll see how that goes." The Mottaus are shipping back to their hometown of Boston, while the Jovanovskis will head to Charlotte. Some of the team's younger players like Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad had to fend off requests to stay in Florida so their families could escape winter. Both wanted to fly north to see friends. "I am pretty excited about it," Huberdeau said. "I'll go see the family, so it will be fun. It will reset [my] mind." Bjugstad, who said he's still getting used to the grind of a full NHL season, plans to take off a few days from skating. He also hopes to train with some of his former teammates at the University of Minnesota. "I'm going to the tundra up there," Bjugstad said. "I'll probably try to skate a little with the Gophers. I'll see [Gophers teammate and Panthers prospect] Kyle Rau and see how he's doing." Defenseman Mike Weaver, puzzled by his teammates desire to seek cold, is taking his family to the Turks and Caicos Islands. "I wouldn't say Florida is too bad, but I am going from warm to warmer," Weaver said. Panthers coach Peter Horachek will stick in Fort Lauderdale and try to get settled. Aside from watching the Olympics and preparing for an intense stretch run that sees Florida play just about every other day until the season's end, Horachek will finally get his office set up. "I've got about six boxes of offices in the back of my truck," Horachek said. "There are pictures in a box rattling around. Every time I take a turn they rattle up against something and I go, 'They're scratching.' My wife threatens me that she's going to come in and decorate." Regardless of where coaches or players end up, though, they are all thankful for an extended break. It has been a difficult season for Florida, which is 13 points out of a playoff spot. Clemmensen points out that with the time off, it is very possible for a team's momentum to shift. "There are teams that are probably playing some of their best hockey right now that the break isn't coming at such a great time," Clemmensen said. "Being what it is, I think everyone is looking forward to having some time off. "Everyone can agree that the NHL season -- being as it is -- where you're playing every other day since mid-September, that's a grueling schedule. We're always, at this time of year, looking toward the Olympic break or All-Star Break, whatever it is. To get two or three days off is big." HUBY, TKO Huberdeau scratched another NHL first off his list Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs: A fight. "Probably the last one, too," Huberdeau said. Early in the second period, the winger battled for a puck along the boards with Toronto's Jake Gardiner. Huberdeau kept checking the defenseman along the boards and when Gardiner turned around, the gloves went flying. The bout earned Huberdeau praise from his teammates, particularly enforcer Krys Barch, who told the winger he did well. "I think (Barch) is scared of me now," Huberdeau joked. "They don't expect me to fight. I'm probably the smallest guy on this team. But it just happened. I'm not scared." Fights are extremely rare for Huberdeau, who said he last got into one during his junior career. Nothing about it had a positive outcome. In a tussle against Halifax's MacKenzie Weegar on Dec. 9, 2012, Huberdeau also knocked down linesman Jay Doiron. That led to a four-game suspension. "The referee fell and they said I pushed him," Huberdeau said. "And I got beat up after, so I don't want to remember that fight." It has been a difficult year for the reigning Calder Trophy winner, who has struggled to get on the scoresheet at times. The fight seemed to release a great deal of Huberdeau's frustration. "You get more intense when you do that," he said. "It wasn't like, 'I'm going to fight this game.' I don't really like fighting, but you've got to fight through it. It felt good to do that. And it helped the team, too. "I want to be consistent and play well. I think I am having more fun. You've just got to smile to be on the ice." Horachek has noticed the sophomore's improved play. "I asked him to start working harder and putting it on the line," Horachek said. "Don't worry about the goals and assists, just worry about the effort level. It was one of the hardest (working) games for him." But even after Huberdeau finished with one of his better all-around efforts and netted an assist in Florida's 4-1 win, he still had to answer to his mother about getting into a brawl. "She was like, 'What was it about? Why were you fighting?'" Huberdeau said. "She doesn't really mind. Maybe if I were to get beat up." DEADLINE WATCH Panthers management and scouts will start preparing for the trade deadline during the final days of the Olympic break. While the San Antonio Rampage, Florida's AHL affiliate, is in Ontario to face the Toronto Marlies and Hamilton Bulldogs, the team will hold meetings to review a season's worth of scouting reports. Assistant GM Mike Santos says he hopes the Panthers will be active during the trade deadline to improve the team. Owner Vincent Viola recently stated he is committed to making the Panthers a cap team, and the deadline will be the first step in doing so. If the Panthers were to acquire a star player, it would likely be through a trade. According to Santos, Florida is more likely to pick up "supplementary players" through free agency. The NHL trade deadline is at 3 p.m. on March 5. LOOKING AHEAD The Cats will have several dates to circle over the next few weeks. Florida wraps up its pre-Olympic schedule Friday in Carolina against the Hurricanes. After an extended break, players will return to their teams on Wednesday, Feb. 19. The Panthers will resume practice either Feb. 20 or 21. While the league resumes play on Feb. 25, Florida will get an extra two days of rest before hosting the Washington Capitals on Feb. 27. You can follow Erin Brown on Twitter @rinkside or email her at erinbrownfla@gmail.com.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Grizzlies want Kevin Durant in free agency

WATCH: Karl-Anthony Towns throws down monster dunk

Dos Anjos: McGregor will 'break like a girl' at UFC 196

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell hit in groin by LeBron pass

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin


Doc Rivers: Warriors have 'swagger' of defending champion

Damian Lillard added as a finalist for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

Celtics legend Paul Pierce prepares for what ‘could be’ his last game in Boston

Free-agent WR Josh Morgan accidentally shot himself, charged with crime

Jon Beason retires after nine NFL seasons

Brewers Association sends Peyton Manning case of craft beer

Fighter says sex before fight partly to blame for loss

Kevin McHale: James Harden being out of shape hurt Rockets early

WATCH: Kevin Love re-injures left shoulder

Johnny Manziel’s grandpa on ex-girlfriend: ‘The girl has her problems’

Andy Dalton reunited with missing luggage thanks to social media

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson used to soak his ankles in urine

Why Tom Thibodeau needs to be in New York

Defensemen in high demand as NHL trade deadline looms

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Security guard indicted for assaulting University of Houston football fan

The LeBron-Kobe rivalry and Finals matchup that never was

Mario Williams recognizes Bills may release him

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker