The Miami Herald illustrates how Tuesday wasn’t the first time a goalie went after Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky. Last season in Los Angeles, goalie Jonathan Quick had to be pulled away from Kopecky after a showdown in front of the net.
At the time, it was assumed that Quick and Kopecky had past run-ins — Kopecky had spent the entirety of his career in the Western Conference before coming to Florida.
“Nah,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said after that game. “He just annoys a lot of teams. They all hate playing against him.”
Tallon, as GM of the Blackhawks, had seen Kopecky get under the skin of goaltenders before.
It was one reason Tallon worked to get Kopecky in a Panthers sweater. The Panthers, Tallon reasoned, were too soft in front of the net. Florida needed someone not only willing to get down and dirty, but someone who was successful at it.
Kopecky has a nice shot and good speed. Yet he saw the success Tomas Holmstrom had in getting physical down by the goal during their days together in Detroit.
“It hasn’t always been there, but I’ve learned over the past few years — like I saw [Holmstrom] doing it in Detroit — you can find success there,” Kopecky said. “There are so many skilled guys in the league, someone has to do the dirty work in front of the net. It’s stuck with me. And I have the proportion for it, the big body.”