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Getting Better

MashThe Panthers appear to be on the mend these days, with Gary Roberts saying he'll be back in the next few days and Todd Bertuzzi expected back in the coming weeks.

Former Panther Ed "Rhymes with JovoCop" Jovanovski said at the All-Star Game he said he thought Bert might be back next Saturday when Jovo's Coyotes are in town. We'll see about that. If he does make his Debut II against Phoenix, let the rumors begin.

Eddie Belfour stopped me the other day -- you know, just to chat -- and asked me what I thought the Panthers were going to do with Bertuzzi once he returns. That's a great question, Eagle.

First, Bertuzzi (and Eddie too) is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. That means the main player the Panthers got for that Luongo dude can walk away at the end of the year with the Panthers getting no compensation.

No compensation at all? None. Really? Yep. Not even an autographed Uwe Krupp jersey? Who wants that?

So, does Florida keep Bertuzzi and hope he makes them a playoff contender and gamble that he'll return next year, or deal him to a contender for a real playoff run? Unless the Cats really tank it, I think JM keeps Bertuzzi. What does him dealing Bertuzzi away tell the team that he coaches? It's going to be awfully hard for JM to face the players in the room -- and ask them to give 100 percent -- when he basically threw in the towel with such a trade.

That's a tough deal to spin, no matter if it makes sense or not.

-- Stephen Weiss notched his 100th career point with an assist on Florida's first goal on Thursday night.

-- Jozef Stumpel and Martin Gelinas have put in a request for Florida to play Washington a lot more than the alloted eight games this season. After looking at all the empty seats Thursday night, team executive Michael Yormark declined the motion.

-- Doesn't look like the Panthers got much spillover from that big foosball game in town. I thought this was the South Florida Super Bowl!

-- JM was interviewed by FSN's Sir Craigervini soon after Koko's goal made it 5-1. JM cracked a smile when Sir Craigervini said he was going to talk to Belfour after the game. OK, made that one up. JM didn't smile.

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