Rachel Hartman, University of Miami
Panthers prospect AJ Jenks is on the move from a slow start but personally successful last year with Rochester (AHL) to the Florida Panthers Rookie Camp this year. But if he doesn’t make the Panthers out of camp, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The left winger played for then-head coach of the Rochester Americans Chuck Weber last season and is glad to be in his company again during the Rookie Tournament.
“It would be a great situation either way,” Jenks says about playing for either the Panthers or the Rampage this upcoming season. “[San Antonio] obviously has a great coaching staff.”
After coaching the Amerks for one season, Chuck Weber will serve in the same capacity with the San Antonio Rampage, guiding the Panthers prospects in the Lone Star state as its seventh head coach for the team’s tenth season. Weber, 38, has quite the resume for someone his age. It is his second season in the AHL after a wildly successful four-year stint as head coach of the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL.
According to Jenks, the coaches have an open-door policy and are always looking to get better, which he finds admirable and an important aspect of their relationship.
Reflecting on his first year with the AHL, the biggest thing Weber says he wants to improve on is developing a winning environment.
“If (Jacob) Markstrom is with us, it’s obviously going to be a huge advantage for us,” said Weber.
In an interview after the Panthers first Rookie Tournament game, a 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay Sunday night, Weber was ecstatic about the team playing as a group.
“The 18 guys and two goalies set the tone for the Florida Panthers,” said Weber. “The players did a great job representing the “red and the cat“”.
While Weber won’t get to coach some of the players in San Antonio, his goal is to get the guys eventually on the Panthers.
Last season as head coach at Rochester, Weber didn’t make playoffs, which he says was one of his biggest downfalls.
To get the team off to a good start, the prospects from San Antonio stepped up in different ways Sunday night. Getting different guys to step up at different times is key for the rookies in their competition. He hopes to get the players better everyday, from their time in development camp all the way through the Rookie Tournament.
Panthers Rookie Tournament continues Tuesday at noon versus the Nashville Predators. The San Antonio Rampage season begins Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Texas.