Panthers fans were pretty stoked to hear earlier this summer that former Panther captain Brian Skrudland was being brought in to direct the organization's player development group. It felt great having not only a former NHL player direct the team's youth of tomorrow, but a player known for his hard work and dedication to the game, as well as his consistently good attitude towards player growth and teaching. It's now just as exciting to learn that former Panther Cory Stillman is now being brought on as a member of the player development staff, working under Skrudland and adding yet another very credible name as a part of the "blueprint."
"Stiller" was a very productive player in his time in Florida, or anywhere else for that matter, and was known as a very intelligent player throughout his whole career. Former Panther coach Peter DeBoer has said having Stillman in the lineup was, "like having another coach on the ice," and it's assumed he'll continue to bring those same hockey smarts and intangibles to the Panther prospects we'll see in the next few seasons and beyond.
There's a lot to be said about the offseason the Panthers have had: a huge splash in free agency, a great draft, a new head coach. However, perhaps one of the most encouraging moves was the creation of the player development group within the franchise, and the act of staffing it with not only former NHL players, but champions like Brian Skrudland and Cory Stillman. These are the seemingly smaller things that lend a franchise true credibility and show that the folks up top are starting to really think about the future of the franchise from a player perspective. It's encouraging to fans, encouraging to the coaching staff, and encouraging to the minor league affiliates to know that players will receive constant guidance and help from great former players such as Skrewy and Stiller.
Congratulations to Cory, and we wish him the best of luck in his new position with the team!