Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Lightning

Brewer a surprise scratch, Panik claimed by Maple Leafs

Veteran defenseman Eric Brewer is in an unfamiliar spot tonight, a healthy scratch for the season opener against the Panthers at Amalie Arena.

And it didn't sit well with Brewer, 35, who has played 15 seasons and 965 career NHL games.

"It's been a long time," Brewer said. "It's been a very long time. It's their decision. I don't like it."

The Lightning is going with 12 forwards and six defensemen, with Victor Hedman-Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison-Radko Gudas and Matt Carle-Andrej Sustr the pairings. Coach Jon Cooper acknowledged Brewer was understandably "pi--ed" about it, and Cooper didn't like doing it. But Cooper said with the Lightning depth, it needs everybody to play, and it was just Brewer's turn to sit.

"We talked about it, it was not an easy conversation," Brewer said. "But they made their decision. No details that are going to make it any easier. I don't like it. But that's the way life is."

Cooper said it'd be one thing if Brewer didn't work hard, or "rested on the fact he's played in the league for a long time." But that's not what Brewer is.

"He's worked his tail off for us, I think he's probably playing as good a hockey in the time I've been here than he was prior to coming here," Cooper said. "But one thing we have is depth o this team and it was a situation if we want to have a chance, we can't just have 20 players, we need 25 players. You know how guys get hurt, guys get into slumps and somebody has to sit. If Eric Brewer has to sit for a game, I'm sure he doesn't like it, and he's pissed. I'm p---ed to have to do it. But on the other side, we'll need Eric Brewer. And when we do somebody else is going to have to be in Eric Brewer's position. That's part of being a team and we need everybody. This isn't a one man show."

When told of Cooper's comments of his play, Brewer said, "Make sense of that all you want." But he acknowledged the depth.

"Clearly, that's the problem," he said. "Good problem to have, right?

More from today's skate: LW Richard Panik, put on waivers by the Lightning Wednesday, was claimed by the Maple Leafs today. The Leafs must put him on their roster; if they let him go, the Lightning can claim him back and send him to Syracuse. While Panik is clearly a talented player, he was given every opportunity last season, but has not shown the desired consistency or battle level.. LW Brenden Morrow said his back feels better and he's ready to play tonight... C Vladislav Namestnikov was excited he got to make the team, saying the first people he called were his parents. "It's a huge honor," he said.... D Mark Barberio and LW Jonathan Drouin were also scratched.. Drouin was practicing again, this time in a normal colored jersey, though he didn't participate in all the drills and didn't shoot 100-percent.

The lines for tonight: Palat-Stamkos-Johnson/Killorn-Filppula-Callahan/Kucherov-Namestnikov-Connolly/Morrow-Boyle-Brown. Defensive pairings: Stralman-Hedman/ Garrison-Gudas/Carle-Sustr.