Florida Panthers goaltender Spencer Knight practiced with the team at their development camp this week for the first time since he entered the NHL/NHL Players’ Association player assistance program back in February
Knight, 22, spoke to reporters Wednesday in Coral Springs, Fla., but declined to explain what led him to enter the assistance program.
“I don’t think it’s the right time to address anything on that front,” Knight said. “I’ll do that when I feel the time is right. But regardless, I’m just happy to be here and just have fun. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Under the terms of the player assistance program, Knight continued to be paid while he received treatment. The program is meant to assist players who are experiencing issues with mental health, substance abuse and other problems.
Knight — a former first-round draft pick who made his NHL debut at just 20 years and 1 day old — was simply glad to be back on the ice with his team.
“It’s been great, I think, just coming back down here and just being in a familiar area,” Knight said. “I know a few of these guys already, whether it’s former teammates or guys maybe I played against. So it was good to see them, meet a few new faces and there’s a lot of good talent here, too.”
While Knight was in the program, his Panthers made a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final, knocking off the record-setting Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes to get through the Eastern Conference as the second wild card. The Vegas Golden Knights beat Florida in five games to win the Cup
“I think it was just one of those things that it was really cool to see,” Knight said. “But (if) there’s one thing I learned from watching it is that you really don’t know, but if you work hard and you kind of just stick to what you can do and just embrace whatever moment you’re in (you can have success).
“Because there are times in the season when you’re just going to be like, ‘We can’t win a game,’ and you’re like, ‘We might not make the playoffs.’ But then, you just keep working, keep working, keep working and then it eventually pays off, and I think the Panthers‘ example of that in the playoffs was the perfect example of it.
Knight has played in 57 regular-season games (49 starts) over parts of three seasons while paired with Florida’s No. 1 goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky. He has a 32-17-6 record, 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage for his young career.
–Field Level Media