Substance abuse

Panthers G Spencer Knight doing well, expected back in the fall

Associated PressJun 21, 2023, 05:27 PM ET1 Minute Read

SUNRISE, Fla. — Spencer Knight has been in contact with the Florida Panthers, and the team is working under the premise that the goaltender will be back with the Panthers this fall.

Knight entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program in February and was not with Florida for the remainder of the season, including the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.

“He’s doing well, and we expect him back in the fold in the fall,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said Wednesday.

Knight was in his second full season in the NHL, sharing responsibilities in net with veteran goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. He started in 19 games and appeared in 21 this past season, going 9-8-3 with a 3.18 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.

He last appeared for Florida on Feb. 18.

Knight leaving the team led to Alex Lyon getting significant playing time for the Panthers in the stretch run of the regular season — in part because Bobrovsky got sick — and in the beginning of the playoffs. Lyon went 6-2-1 with a .930 save percentage late in the season, fueling Florida’s run to secure the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Lyon is about to become an unrestricted free agent.

“I can imagine that, at a minimum, we’ll be talking to Alex,” Zito said.

The NHL and NHLPA started the player assistance program in 1996, giving players access to a confidential phone line and counselors in each city in the league. The jointly funded group assists players and their families with mental health, substance abuse and other matters.

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