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Ekblad: I'll 'never be buddies' with Koepka after heckling incident

Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty

Aaron Ekblad doesn't seem ready to forgive Brooks Koepka for chirping him mercilessly last weekend.

"We're not buddies," the Florida Panthers defenseman said Wednesday, according to Sportsnet's Luke Fox. "(We'll) never be buddies."

The former top-ranked golfer in the world and current LIV member used an insulting prop at the Panthers' game against the New York Rangers on Saturday.

In case there was any doubt it was Koepka, he was at the game with some friends and they were all wearing track suits as an apparent nod to Italianfest, the evening's theme.

Koepka later explained his behavior.

"I did not bring the cone," he said, according to GolfWRX's Matt Vincenzi. "He gave up a bad goal. It was a bad pass in the third. I'm a die-hard (Panthers) fan, and he gave up a bad goal."

Koepka grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida, and lives in Jupiter, which is about an hour's drive from FLA Live Arena in Sunrise. He's attended several Panthers games this season. The 32-year-old is in the area for the LIV tournament that will run from Friday through Sunday in Orlando.

Ekblad isn't having his best season for the underachieving Cats, who are in danger of missing the playoffs one season after winning the Presidents' Trophy.

The 27-year-old ranks 20th-worst in the NHL with 2.9 expected goals against per 60 minutes at five-on-five among defensemen with at least 1,000 minutes played in those situations, according to Natural Stat Trick. He also entered Wednesday with 31 points in 63 games, his lowest per-game rate since 2018-19.

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