Sad day for the Panthers, what with Joe Nieuwendyk hanging 'em up. Feel for the guy, although 90 percent of the league would trade with him right now. Why? Dude got 20 years in the league, won three Cups, won a Gold medal at the Olympics, made some mad cash AND is walking away from the game before it's too late. Now, Joe may need back surgery sometime in the future. That isn't cool. But he may not, and all is well.
Like all of his teammates, I know I speak for the rest of the local hacks when I say I'm going to miss Joe. I hope he does stick around the 954 and comes by practices and games with some regularity. Not sure if he does though. Not really his thing.
Here's an example of Joe's class: He could have had a huge retirement presser, complete with TV cameras and plug-ins from Canada. He decided he wanted nothing of the sort. Instead, he told his teammates personally in a meeting before Wednesday's practice, then called up the three local beat guys. And that was that.
I've interviewed plenty of guys after a teammate was traded or retired; always get the same answers. Today, the boys had a lot to say about Joe retiring, and you felt their sadness. They are going to miss having him around all the time. I'm sure he'll say the same thing.
Here's hoping the team does something for Joe Thursday before taking on the Sabres. I'll miss it because I'll be at a wedding rehearsal. Will post after tomorrow's skate.
THE NEWS: JM says he doesn't expect to go after a new player to take Joe's spot, although there will be some money to spend. JM just doesn't think there is anything out there the Panthers would want. He might be right. He also wants to give the youngsters a little more time, and there's nothing wrong with that.
-- All you Lakeland folks bugging on my boy Joe Goodman should settle down! It's not his fault your school's running back has a big mouth and told the Miami Herald he was getting paid by some of the locals (if he was taking free food from Brother's BBQ in Lakeland, I can understand. Damn, that is some good grub. And the sauce is to die for. Right Roman?)
-- Condolences go out to the Campbell family; Greg missed Wednesday's practice to be at the funeral for his grandmother (Colin's mother). Hate to hear stuff like that. He'll be back on Thursday.
-- Juraj Kolnik skated for a bit but came off the ice looking a bit ticked off. JM says he still can't keep up with the game speed. It looks like he'll be out a few more games at least.