Jonathan Huberdeau is an alternate captain for the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League. The franchise’s all-time leader in assists was selected third overall by the Panthers in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Entering the 2021-22 season, he has 168 goals and 330 assists in 591 games. In the second game this season, he became the first Panther to surpass 500 points and is the club’s all-time leading scorer.
He was selected to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game.
How did you get started in golf?
I started when I was 14 years old … with me and my friends, having fun out there. I never had any lessons. I think I should have had some [laughs]. But it’s just for fun, more social – to get a good round in with the guys – about four-and-a-half hours – and spend time with my friends.
Compare golf and hockey swings.
I think my hockey shots affect my swings for sure. I kind of try to hit it like a slapshot. In golf, you [have] to finish on your front foot. That affects my game a lot.
I had the chance to play at Michael Jordan’s course, The Grove XXIII in Hobe Sound. That was pretty special. And Southern Island, too, in California. Those would probably be my two best.
Favorite local course?
Right here, at Coral Ridge. I play because Eky (Aaron Ekblad) is a member there. I had the chance to play Adios Golf Club in Coconut Creek. It’s fun. We’ve got some good connections, so we get to play at some nice courses.
How often do you play?
In the summer I probably play close to 40 or 50 games, I would say. I should practice more. I play too much and do not practice enough. In season, I would say like eight times, maybe. Depends on when we have time. The past few years have been crazy [with] the schedule. Whenever we have time, or a couple of days off, we try to get out there.
A 74, but it was like four or five years ago. That was back home, actually. That was my course, I was a member back then. I shot a 79 last year at Michael Jordan’s course, so that was good for me. My handicap is a 12, so I don’t really shoot low.
I got one in Weston, at The Club at Weston Hills in 2017. I got one the day before I came back from my Achilles injury. That was pretty cool. I think it was 160 yards, and I had a 9 iron. It bounced, and then the second bounce – it went in right away. That was pretty cool. I had two goals the next night in a game.
Obviously, Tiger Woods … Roger Federer. I always liked [Federer]. And probably Tom Brady. They are all the best at what they do, I think. It would be cool just to be with them and the conversation we would have. I would ask questions the whole round just to see how they think. It would be a cool experience to see how they think, especially in all different sports.
A putter, I would say. I have a good putter. I have an old putter; these guys laugh at me. I [have] a Spider putter and the grip is so old … there’s almost no grip. But I just like it. It’s a mallet.
Favorite golf story?
It was four years ago, probably. I told the guys – I was back home – and I said if “I hit that putt” – it was a long putt, probably 50 footer – “if I hit the putt I’m going to go in the water.” I hit that putt. [So] I had to go. I took my shirt off and jumped in. That was pretty funny because [I thought] there was no chance I was going to get the putt. I just said it, being funny … I had to go in [laughs].
What is your outlook on the upcoming Panthers’ season?
We’re really excited for this year. We have a good group of guys. We’re having fun out there, and we know what we can do. We’re going to be a tough team to play against.
There were some lean years on the ice, and then Covid. This year looks good to have fans back.
I am looking forward to it so much. I think we have a good team and I think we know what we are capable of doing. I think with the guys we have this year that this is our year. I think we can do some damage and make the playoffs. We want to win a round of the playoffs and I think it starts there. We need to get some wins early and this is the best team we have had here in nine years. I think we just have to take advantage of it.