It took Jonathan Huberdeau all of about three minutes and change to properly introduce himself Saturday night, with a flick of the wrist that made the big horn blast and the red light twirl.

Florida Panthers fans had waited four months longer than expected for hockey, for this night, so what was another few minutes to see the first up-close evidence of the franchise's newest scoring star?

The sport's return and the NHL debut of Huberdeau — both were worth the wait in a season-opening 5-1 Panthers rout of the Carolina Hurricanes that featured that quick goal and later two assists from the Cats' 2011 first-round draft pick.

Afterward, Huberdeau wore a red Three Musketeers-style hat with white trim and a white feather, the fey-cavalier look a new Panthers tradition.

"I have no idea why," said the kid.

It wasn't a rookie hazing. Turns out the team's player of the game must wear the distinctive chapeau, an idea started by captain Ed Jovanovski.

Huberdeau is 19, the baby of the team. He could shave with a butter knife. He spent the past three seasons growing, literally and figuratively, in Quebec with the minor-league Saint John's Sea Dogs.

Saturday, the Panthers unwrapped him like the gift he is supposed to be as an answer to the team's scoring deficiencies. His goal came on his first career shot.