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37 posts from October 2006

October 31, 2006

Youse a Scaredy Cat?

Pumpkin First off, Happy Halloween.

Second, well, made it back from New York/New Jersey without a scratch. Do have a strange accent now and a hankerin' for thin-sliced pizza, but that will pass I hope.

Was at the skate today and have to tell you, nothing much happened. The Sharks are in town, the game is on OLN/Vs., and the Heat guys are getting their rings. Good for them.

On to the News:

-- Auld is in net tonight against the Sharks.

-- MVR is in the lineup, says he's paired with Bryan Allen.

-- Again, no news on Bertuzzi. This is the last time I bring him up in the news until, well, we have some news.

October 29, 2006

Back in Jersey

Rutgers_1Had a good time in New York, but now I'm back in the Garden State gearing up for a night of college football. That's right, I'm visiting that hotbed of collegiate football action at Rutgers tonight. The Scarlet Knights are playing host to UConn and I want to see if the unbeaten Rs are as good as they say they are.

The big news around the Panthers is obviously news that's a couple of days old, reports of a scuffle at a hotel bar early Friday morning. Some of the players wonder how something like this is news, but others know exactly why this is a story. And if this was a Canadian team, it would be brought up daily for at least two weeks. click here if you wanna...

And this story is so juicy: Late night partying at a posh hotel, bouncers getting involved, some roughhousing in the lobby. Blood! Stitches! Good stuff.

The Panthers put this deal behind them on Friday morning when JM put them through 10 extra minutes of sprints. He said Saturday he usually does this during the season, but I don't buy it. Not the day before a game anyway. My take is this: He heard about the incident through his peoples, and he was ticked. So he skated them. Good for him.  And good for the Panthers. They got to have their fun and paid for it with extra practice time. Now if Alex Auld would have been seriously hurt when he slipped in the puddle of water, ok, it becomes a bigger problem -- and a much bigger story.

The news:

-- Wasn't at practice Sunday (I was making the fun drive from Long Island to Jersey) but was was told the Injured Three (MVR, Bert and Nieuwy) didn't skate. MVR did some office stuff and I think he'll be back on Tuesday.

-- The Nathan's stand on Coney Island sells more than just hot dogs. They sell clams, chicken and Philly cheesesteaks. I had a hot dog and a Coke. Good stuff. Wanted to ride the Cyclone but it was closed. So too was Keyspan Park, home of your Brooklyn Cyclones. Couldn't even get a cap. The stopover did break up the cruddy drive though.

October 27, 2006

Potvin's Cups...

DenispotvinBack on beautiful Long Island, the place where the Stanley Cup once spent four glorious years thanks in part to a hard-nosed defenseman who now happens to broadcast hockey games in Florida.

Go figure.

Yeah, Denis Potvin is a popular figure here on the Island, and he'll spend as much time Saturday shaking hands and schmoozing as he will calling the game. Hope Dave Strader is ready for extra work.

And now, the news:

-- Mike Van Ryn missed the practice and will not play Saturday. He says his shoulder is very sore and he is aiming to come back on Tuesday. No word yet on Joe Nieuwendyk or Todd Bertuzzi other than Todd took a shot in the back to reduce his back spasms.

-- Gary Roberts had the day off.

-- New lines for tomorrow, and with MVR out, new defensive pairings. More on that in Saturday's Herald. Ric Jackman is back in the mix, and let's just say he's very happy to be getting another opportunity after missing the past three games.

-- Ed Belfour starts in net.

October 26, 2006

Swamps of Jersey, Part Deux

Soviet_1 It's been almost a week now since D Alexei Semenov was suspended after not showing up for a Rochester practice. It now appears more and more likely that Semenov will play in Russia this year and not return to the Americans (that's the Rochester nickname, not some political statement made by me....)

-- Last night the Panthers had to take a ferry across the Hudson to make it to the Rangers game on time because of heavy traffic going into New York. Thursday, theSpeed_2 team wishes it had such an option. Because of heavy traffic coming OUT of the city and headed to the Jersey burbs, it took the Panthers over an hour to make the five-plus mile drive from Weehawken, NJ to the Meadowlands. The player bus (some guys -- Martin Gelinas and Steve Montador -- were already here) didn't get to the arena until 6:15.

It's usually at the game site about 2 hours before gametime.

The poor Panthers didn't have much time to mill around, meeting with all the cheery, happy-go-lucky arena workers. Everyone is just so darned friendly here! (Seriously, though, this place sucks.)

-- C Joe Nieuwendyk has left NJ, on his way back home.

Swamps of Jersey

Pizzaland What a difference a win makes, eh? The Panthers were in a pretty darned good mood Thursday, with pretty much the entire team showing up for the optional practice. While some players didn't participate -- almost all did -- everyone was at least there. That's rare. Even JM was in a chipper mood, cracking jokes at the expense of your's truly about my mental skills -- or lack thereof. He had a mental skills coach (me and Minervini think the guy's a sports psychologist) talk to the team again today about their role on a team. Good stuff, although I'm apparently not smart enough to understand it all. So I'll skip it for now.

Good day in Jersey, had lunch at a local Italian joint off the side of the road. Some place called 'Olive Garden' or something like that. Great breadsticks. If you are ever in the Meadowlands area, I suggest you give the place a try! Nothing beats visiting a local place and getting in touch with the locals. They also have a big store here called 'Wal-Mart.' This place sells clothes as well as food! You have to see it to believe it.

On to the news:

-- Joe Nieuwendyk will not play in the final two games of the road trip and may be headed back to FLL tonight. JM says he will update us on that. Nieuwy hurt his back apparently reaching for a puck, straining his back.

-- No update on Todd Bertuzzi.

-- Alex Auld is your starter in net tonight.

October 25, 2006

Big Apple Cat

MetrocardGreetings fro New York City -- also known as 'The Windy City' as well as the 'City of Angels' -- where I can tell you the cabs, buses and subways are doing well. They send their love.

Flew into town after a spirited Panthers practice in Coral Springs, one in which the stink of the 6-3 loss to Atlanta seemingly was gone. We'll see if it comes back tonight.

Went to Little Italy with the other two beat guys -- also known as Brian X and Steve Y -- and had a nice meal. Watched some baseball. Good times. Heading off to the skate right now (11:25) and will update the lines and such soon. They were all changed yesterday, so we'll see.

The Lines (remain the same):


Belfour in net; Jackman and Kiwiatkowski have the night off.

October 23, 2006

Philly Phallout

PhanaticTalked to JM about the Flyers mess, and he was understandibly against the firing of Ken Hitchcock. Not only is JM a coach, but he's friends with Hitch. By all accounts, everyone in the biz is bummed a good man took the fall for a cruddy team.

But anyhoo. Hitch will get another job if he wants one. Bobby Clarke probably doesn't want another job. He really did sound burned out. Retirement -- and some TV work -- might just be a nice future for a Hall of Famer. And speaking of TV work, keep hearing about the second season on 'Making the Cut,' the Canadian reality show in which a bunch of contestants try to make a team's training camp. Our boy Keenan was a big part of the taping this summer. Hope he's made available for press junkets to hype the show. Would love to talk to him again.

On to the news!

-- Alex Auld in net tonight

-- Bertuzzi out again, seeing doc tonight. could miss ny trip, we'll know more on tuesday

-- Peltonen is back! Well, on Wednesday anyways. And really, is he back? Technically, he's making his Florida debut. And he hasn't been in the league since like 2001. So, OK, Peltonen isn't back. But he's going to play. Happy?

October 20, 2006

Mad Props

Got to throw out there that the BankAtlantic Center's press box is now hooked up with wireless internet. Makes working -- surfing -- so much easier. I know no one out there cares, but this is big. Huge even. Now I can watch hockey, blog, check my email, book a flight, blog, watch some more hockey and even blog. Thanks to Alan Cohen, Michael Yormark, Justin Coppertino, Matt Sacco and Bryan Goldman for getting this done. And thanks to Steve Goldstein. Neil Why? Dude deserves from free pub. From me, not Neil.

Rumor Mill

Peppermill Lots of things going wrong in Philadelphia with the Flyers these days, and they really need to beat the Panthers on Friday. Really. Word on the street is team chairman Ed Snider is totally ticked about the team's awful start and big time moves could happen as early as Saturday. The Flyers don't play again until Oct. 26 after Friday's game, plenty of time to make some moves. You think waiving veterans like Petr Nedved, Niko Dimitrakos and Nolan Baumgartner were big?

Rumor has it, coach Ken Hitchcock and GM Bob Clarke could be on the outs. Maybe not fair, but that's life. Hitchcock, good buddies with JM by the way, won't have a problem finding another gig. Clarke either. Both have done a lot in their years, but the thought here is Philly's got a big problem and Snider isn't going to sit back and watch.

And guess who's available, you know, to either coach or be the GM? You got it, Mike Keenan. Florida paid Keenan to walk away, and would get financial relief on that settlement if he signed somewhere else. And why not the City of Brotherly Shove? Don't know if the Flyers want Keenan -- he was their coach back in his early years -- and who knows if Keenan wants back in Philly. But think of the possibilities. Keenanduck_1

Sure would make things interesting in Philly, no? Keenan and the Flyers? Whoa Nellie!

If the Flyers were to fire Clarke and keep Hitch, doesn't happen. Can't see Keenan and Hitch getting along very well for a long time. Same goes the other way; don't know if Keenan would work well answering to Clarke. But if both were to go...

Keenan hasn't spoke much since he 'resigned' other than to thank the team's owner and the Panthers after he got his money. Been a solid move by Mike. Out of sight, out of mind. Didn't burn any bridges and look like a sore loser, either. He'll pop up again -- and that isn't a rumor.

Philadelphia Wheeze-steak

Genos The Panthers get a bit of a break tonight, playing host to a Philadelphia team that has given up more goals in the past week than the Arizona Cardinals gave up touchdowns to the Bears in the fourth quarter on Monday night. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating.

Still, Philly gave up nine to Buffalo on Tuesday (all coming in the final 40 minutes and all off goalie Robert Esche who happened to make a joking comment about coach Ken Hitchcock's smarts) and four to Tampa on Thursday. The Flyers decided against skating Friday, and why not? They haven't lost in Sunrise since the arena was named after a rental car company back in 2000.

Florida is unbeaten at home (the arena is now named after a bank, although it was previously sponsored by an office supply company whose name ryhmes with 'Home Depot') and needs a win desperately.

The Panthers head back to Atlanta on Saturday, and that joint ain't been kind to the Cats. Florida failed to win a single game there last year and has lost six straight. Hotlanta? You bet. Jacques might want to take the boys to the Varsity before the game. Forget all those protein shakes and energy bars; the Panthers might just need a chilli dog and a chocolate and vanilla shake.Varsity

NEWS: Janis Sprukts was called up from Rochester because Todd Bertuzzi is out with back spasms. Jacques says Bert will miss the weekend games.

-- Joe Nieuwendyk and Ville Peltonnen practiced Friday morning, but JM wouldn't say when either will be back in the lineup.

-- Ed Belfour will start in net tonight, Alex Auld going in Atlanta.

-- Greg Campbell is the new center of the fourth line, Chris Gratton sliding over to the wing. And he ain't happy about it. Read more in Saturday's Herald. Trust me, good stuff out of Grats. He's a good guy who is very frustrated right now.

October 19, 2006

Sweet Home Florida

Home The Panthers practice at Incredible Ice on Thursday, the hangover of last night's 5-2 loss in DC seemingly gone. Guys seemed to be in pretty good spirits, and stayed late to sign autographs on stuff for the Panthers Foundation.

News: Todd Bertuzzi didn't practice because of what Jacques called back spasms; says they started on Wednesday in DC. Bert didn't look too good in the locker room afterward, so I thought something might be wrong. Don't know what the deal is for Friday. Also Nieuwendyk skated before practice, but didn't practice, and says he feels pretty good. Much better actually. Doubtful for Friday but he wouldn't rule it out. Says he'll see how he feels Friday morning. Ville Peltonen also practiced and was able to take contact -- I didnt pay enough attention to see if he did or not. JAcques says he could be back next week.

October 18, 2006

The Ugly Panthers

Uglybetty_1 Greetings from the Verizon Center, where you could fit the fans here into the arena's nickname: a Phone Booth.

Jacques Martin switched things up, moving Todd Bertuzzi onto the Gary Roberts/Olli Jokinen line.

Doesn't seemed to have worked. The turnover proned Panthers trail 5-1 Capitals right now, the few fans calling up their buddies and telling them to get over here. The rout is on, Alex Auld is on the bench and Jacques doesn't looked pleased.

Ugly? This game defines that word. Yick. If anyone at home is watching this and hasn't switched over to something else by now, call the team and ask them to send you the official diehard card (it has Bruce Willis dressed in a Florida sweater!)

Of course I would keep watching the game if I was home, if only to listen to Dave Strader and Denis Potvin. Those two are pretty good, eh?

October 17, 2006

Getaway Tuesday

Eastern2 The Panthers practiced at Incredible Ice on Tuesday then took off for Washington where the team tries to get their first road win of the season Wednesday night.

Center Joe Nieuwendyk practiced for a bit, then left the ice early for treatment; he didn't make the trip. Afterward, he spoke about not trying to rush things and he'll be back when he is completely healthy. He could play this weekend, he could not. By missing Wednesday's game, Joe will have missed four straight since being hurt in Toronto.

Ville Peltonnen worked out with the team today but Jacques Martin said his return from a shoulder injury is still at least a week away. Gots to say, Ville is working hard to come back. After practice, assistant coach George Kingston put Ville through a rough workout for about 45 minutes.

October 16, 2006

Gone Fishin

EvergladessnookFinally got a day off today, and got to do a number of things. I slept in, did some shopping and wrote a pretty good story you all can read tomorrow. Isn't that special. Wanted to meet up with Mike Van Ryn and go fishing in the Everglades, but I'm sure he's sick of seeing me every day as it is. So, it's a day off for him from me and the other writers. I hope he enjoys it.

October 15, 2006

Rough Ride in Tampa

JayhorseThings didn't go well for the Panthers in Tampa on Saturday night, and it only got worse on their planeride home. Coach Jacques Martin told them their off day was canceled and to report to practice Sunday morning at the arena.

The team reported -- only Ed Belfour sat it out -- with Martin and his staff working the team in a hard practice that lasted 1 hour 15 minutes. Not only did the team work on fundamentals, but spent 15 minutes on a hard skate up and down the ice. Most of the guys were on a knee by the time it came to a close.

The Panthers will now take today off instead, and practice Tuesday before taking flight to Washington.

The early practice time ended my fun little roadtrip prematurely. Got the call from the team around 12:30 a.m. that there would be a practice, so i had to leave the hotel at 7 a.m. Sunday morning to make it to Sunrise in time. Did get to eat breakfast at Sonic in Bradenton, so I guess waking up early wasn't too bad.

October 14, 2006


Bandit Packing up the Pontiac and heading up the road today, getting to the Panthers-Tampa Bay game the old-school way: I'm driving it. It's not a bad little trip, get to see some of the great sights this wonderful state has to offer (OK, a lot of trees). I love a good roadtrip. I like the movie Roadtrip.

If you have any good roadtrip stories you want to share, go ahead and post them. I won't see them for a few hours, but thems the breaks.

10-4 good buddy, I'm northbound and down. Yee-haw!

October 13, 2006

Notebook leftovers II

More extra stuff for you, the loyal reader, of 'On Frozen Pond.' If you feel special right now, well, you should. Because you are special. I recognize that. All I'm saying.


   The Panthers stuck with starting goalie Alex Auld Friday, with Jacques Martin saying a decision
would be made on who starts tonight later. Ed Belfour hasn't gotten a start since last
Saturday's loss in Atlanta.

   Tampa Bay, meanwhile, rolled out backup Johan Holmqvist to face the host Panthers. It
Holmqvist's first start of the season and only the fourth of his NHL career. Marc Denis
starts tonight for the Lightning.

   "He's done a really nice job here," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "I'm
really anxious to see him play in a game. We think he has the tools, we definitely know he
has the work habit. It's just a matter of him getting through and getting used to an NHL

   Friday was Florida's second straight game against a team's backup goalie, with Carolina
playing John Grahame on Wednesday instead of Cam Ward. Incidentally, Grahame played in
Tampa Bay last year where he continually drew the ire of Tortorella. Which is why he is now in Carolina in the first place.


Some news before we get into the capsule. Just got back from the rink -- OK, the arena -- and found out some stuff. Really. Alex Auld starts in net tonight for Florida, Jacques wouldn't get into if that means Belfour goes tomorrow. Tampa will give backup goalie Johan Holmqvist his first start of the season. Marc Denis, John Tortorella tells us, will be in net tomorrow night in Tampa.




• When: 7:30, BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise.

• TV/radio: FSNF; WQAM (560).

• Series -- all-time: Panthers lead 30-20, 10 ties. Last season: Panthers won six of eight meetings.

• Game day report -- Tampa Bay: The Lightning comes into the game fourth in the Southeast Division at 1-2 after a 1-0 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday. They play host to the Panthers on
Saturday night. . . . C Ryan Craig leads Tampa Bay with three  points -- all goals. . . . Goalie Marc Denis (who came over from Columbus during the offseason) has played every minute of
all three games. He has saved just 89 percent of the shots he has faced, but has a good goals-against average (1.99).

Florida: The Panthers are 2-0 at home and 0-1-1 on the road. The shootout loss came at Toronto. . . . Florida won the last meeting in this series, 6-3 on April 9. . . . Olli Jokinen and Gary Rob-
erts had two goals each in Florida's 6-3 victory over Carolina  on Wednesday. . . . C Chris Gratton played for the Lightning from 1993-97 and 1998-2000. He was Tampa Bay's top pick
(third overall) in 1993. . . . C Joe Nieuwendyk (right leg) is out for at least the next two games.


Love them Wings

aol.Chicken_wings No not Detroit; Chicken wings! Everyone I know who loves hockey loves wings. And with the Panthers holding a Friday the 13th wing promotion (check below) I thought I would give you all a chance to brag on your favorite wings establishment.

I'm a big fan of wings, especially those from Rickey's in Hollywood. Yum. I'm also partial to the wings at Bru's Room (grilled, hot) and at a place in Pompano called the Circus. Those are downright delicious.

NOTE: After writing about wings before practice and talking to Juraj about them after practice, you know I just had to have some wingy goodness for lunch, right? Mad props to Quarterdeck in Sunrise -- you know the one around the corner from the arena -- for the wings today. Got 'em hot, they made 'em tasty. Good show all around.

October 12, 2006

Friday duh 13th

The Panthers are hoping a good bunch of people attend Friday's game at the BAC when they take on Tampa Bay.

In honor of Friday the 13th, the Panthers are having a promotion where a local/national chicken wing joint gives each fan 13 wings if Juraj Kolnik (jersey number 13) scores a goal. Some other "lucky" fan -- picked from the group sitting in seats No. 13 -- will snag a pair of Guns and Roses concert tickets.

So, which chicken wing joint is giving away the free wings (and one could assume drums as well) you ask? Well I'm not telling.

You just have to guess.

Good luck with that!Owl