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Former Devils Forward Explains Why He Joined Panthers Despite Rivalry with Bruins in 2023 Playoffs

Tomas Nosek has joined the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Florida Panthers via free agency. Despite the rivalry he was part of as a member of the Boston Bruins in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nosek explains why he’s now playing for the other side.



New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils' Tomas Nosek (92) handles the puck during an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

When the New Jersey Devils signed forward Tomas Nosek last summer, he came to Newark at a pretty good price tag. The Czech forward signed with the Devils for one year at the low price of $1 million. As a former Boston Bruins forward, General Manager Tom Fitzgerald inked Nosek because he liked the hard-nosed game he played as a member of the Bruins, while also bringing solid defensive metrics and penalty killing abilities. Nosek will now take those talents to South Florida after signing with the Florida Panthers this offseason.

At the end of the 2023-24 season, Nosek explained that although it was just a short time in New Jersey for him and his family, he desired to return in 2024-25.

“I hope we can find some way [to make it work],” said Nosek. “My family loved it here, so we will have that talk for sure. I’m looking forward to it and I hope we can find some way to work things out.”

When reflecting on his season, which was plagued by injuries from the very beginning — mostly from needing foot surgery in November — Tomas Nosek knew he had more to offer. His goal in leaving the Bruins was to remain in the playoff chase on an up-and-coming Devils team who had just put up 112 points in 2022-23. Nosek explained the difficulties he went through in 2023-24 was a learning experience he would grow from.

“It is what it is. Everybody has been in that situation at some point, and there’s no reason to hide behind it,” Nosek said. “It was a disappointing season obviously [due to] injury, production, & playing only half a season — not even. Obviously the team didn’t make the playoffs so it’s been a disappointing season, but at the same time, you learn from those mistakes and you move on and try to find your way to back on top.”

Well, Nosek certainly went to the very top of the NHL on July 1st, signing a one-year deal with the reigning Stanley Cup Champions.

It’s no secret that the Panthers are a juggernaut, even with the makeover they went through this summer regarding the bottom of their lineup, both up front and on the blueline. Nosek is part of that change as one of the value signings for the cap-crunched Cats, signing for the league minimum — $775K. It’s not about the money for the Czech forward. It’s about claiming a championship, which the Panthers just did after making back-to-back Stanley Cup appearances.

“That’s why I signed here,” Nosek explained to Florida Hockey Now.  “When I started playing regularly in the NHL, it was my first year in Vegas and we went all the way to the Final. Since then, I have been chasing the Final again.

“Every year, you want to win; when you get older, you want to win more because you know there’s not much time left. You try to pick a team with a real chance, and I think the Panthers are that. I hope we can do it again together.”

Nosek’s tune hasn’t changed since leaving the Devils. He knows his 2023-24 season was a rocky one, but one that was derailed by injury for the majority of the season. Now that he’s feeling healthy, Nosek explained he felt he showed he was more like his former Bruins self, the player who scored seven goals and 18 points, whilst winning 59.3% of faceoffs in 2022-23 playing in a bottom-six checking forward role.

“Last season was not good from an injury standpoint, I missed half the season and it took me a while to get to my game,’’ Nosek said.

“I think my final 20 games showed what I can do. I feel healthy now, it’s been a good summer — a long summer — but I’m looking forward to jumping on the ice again.’’

Nosek was part of the famous first-round rivalry matchup between the Bruins and Panthers in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In Game 2 of the first round, Nosek got into a war of words with Matthew Tkachuk as the Cats were en route to a 6-2 victory in Game 2 to tie the series at one apiece. Despite the colorful language used by both Nosek and Tkachuk, the former Devils forward is confident the two will be able to put their differences from a year ago aside. The Bruins were eventually eliminated by the Panthers in seven games.

“I am not the first or the last person to have some discussions between the benches, or whatever,’’ Nosek said with a chuckle. “So, it is part of hockey, there are no hard feelings at all. I had not even thought about it before you asked about it. Don’t think it will be a problem.’’

Unfortunately for Nosek, his decision to join the Panthers means he won’t take part in the NHL’s Global Series in his home country when the Devils face the Buffalo Sabres in Prague. Instead, he’ll join the Panthers in Finland when the take on the Dallas Stars in Finland as part of the Global Series in November.

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