Colton Sceviour and the Florida Panthers are dealing with tragedy by simply doing what they do best – playing hockey.
It has been a difficult week for the 28-year-old from Red Deer and his Florida teammates, who are in Canada for nine-day, six-game road trip.
Tragedy struck close to home for the Panthers on Wednesday when 17 people were killed at a school in Parkland, Florida, just 18 miles from their home rink and only five from their practice facility.
Several players and members of management live in the school district where the shooting happened.
While the team was away on a road trip, it’s still been tough to process, said Sceviour.
“When we first heard, it hit a lot of people hard. Just surreal is probably the best word to describe it. Everyone is still trying to process it because it is a tragic thing and when it happens that close it shakes you for sure.”
He said while the players have been trying to focus on hockey and representing the community, it’s hard not to think about how the tragedy is affecting the people back in Florida.
“Guys’ families are back in that area so you wish you could be there to help them and help the people in the area and you can’t at the moment,” he said.
“It’s something that’s going to take a little while for the area to recover from because it’s such a tragic thing that happened so close to home.”
The Panthers are on the road for another week and won’t return home until Feb. 22.
For Sceviour, one saving grace about the road trip passing through Alberta this week has been the time he’s got to spend with family and friends.
The team had a day off in Calgary Friday, before playing the Flames Saturday.
For the seven-year NHL veteran, who spent most of his career with the Dallas Stars but the last two seasons in Florida, it is always a welcome trip back to his home province.
Although for all his trips back here in his NHL career, none have featured a goal in front of his family. That’s 44 career goals, none on home soil.
Sceviour and the Panthers played the Edmonton Oilers Monday and in 9:49 of ice time, he didn’t find the mark.
After a road game in Vancouver on Wednesday, they’re back in Alberta to play the Calgary Flames Saturday.
“I scored my first goal in Winnipeg and I’ve scored there a couple times. But never scored in Alberta at all. Definitely, something I can say I’ve thought about a little bit. (My parents) think they’re bad luck,” Sceviour said in a phone interview Thursday.
Sceviour might have a little bit of extra luck fueling him on this visit, as the pending free agent centre signed a three-year contract extension with the Panthers worth $1.2 million a season.
As a forward who plays nearly 10 minutes a game and has helped Florida develop a top five penalty kill since he arrived last year, the signing was a relief for Sceviour. The news is especially comforting with the NHL trade deadline less 10 days away.
“It’s exciting. Something that coming into the year I hoped I would have an opportunity to get it done so that was awesome,” he said.
“Some people say they block it out or don’t think about it. I think that’s good for them or they’re lying. I didn’t think about it every day, but it’s something you’re curious about.”
This year the six-foot, 195-pound former Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chief (2004-2005) averages 2:22 per game shorthanded and tallied three points while killing penalties for the Panthers.
Through 40 games he has picked up seven goals and 14 points in 40 games.
And when the puck drops Saturday in Calgary, Sceviour just hopes he can score number eight with his parents looking on.