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24 posts from March 2007

March 08, 2007

Philadelphia Freedom

Genos_1Hanging out here in the Land of Lincoln, the place where the Phillies were invented, and was challenged with a question.

Are we going to Geno's, or are we going to Pat's?

Sure, south Philly's two major steak sandwich joints are trampa de tourista, but I'm not from here. When I'm in Rocky's hood, I go have a steak sandwich. Wiz, 'wit.

We decided on Geno's, had a sandwich, fries and a Birch Beer and enjoyed a feast in the sun. Did I mention it was 25 degrees out. Still, as Brian X said, it's not that bad in the sun. Whatever. It's cold.

THE NEWS: Alex Auld had surgery yesterday, is done for the year. JM said while he didn't know off hand how much it was going to cost to make a qualifying offer to Auld this offseason, he did say Auld was an "asset we want to keep.'' The thought is Florida has to offer at least $1.5 mil to Auld for next season.

-- With Ruslan Salei banged up a bit, D Martin 'I Never Get Lost' Lojek was called up. He was a healthy scratch as Salei played. Lojek is likely going back to Rochester Friday.

-- Speaking of Rochester, current Panthers like Craig Anderson, Rob Globke and David Booth will be going back to the Americans for their AHL playoff run if the Panthers don't make the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Rostislav Olesz is eligible to play there too as Florida has listed him as a possible playoff participant. JM said Thursday that Olesz's inclusion on that list was just a technicality as he's expected to be part of the Czech Republic's entry in the World Championships this summer. That is, of course, assuming the Panthers don't make the playoffs themselves. "Don't get ahead of yourself,'' JM scolded.

-- Thanks to ESPN2 for putting on the final five minutes of the UM-Maryland ACC game today. It wasn't on local tv up here in Philly. Enjoyed listening to Joe Z, Josh and the Beast on the internet, but had to turn it off once the TV feed came on because of the obvious delay.

March 06, 2007

Beauty, A

Weisss_1 Just a few days ago, JM said he wasn't going to offer the alternate captain vacated by Gary Roberts to anyone until next season.

Tuesday night, Stephen Weiss was wearing the A on his jersey.

The 23-year-old Weiss has been praised by coaches and teammates alike lately not only for his play, but for his leadership. I think this is a great move by JM because Stephen represents all the young players on the Panthers.

Giving him an official leadership role (the alternate captain is nice, but Florida has four of them) shows that the Panthers expect this kind of play, devotion and leadership out of all their players, not just the older players.   

A Really Big Show

Sullivan_color_300Greetings from Atlanta, a city the Panthers might just want to skip.

But tonight, Florida has to face its demons. Has to play a Thrashers team that seems to have put it back together. Golly, that's good news for JM and the boys, no?

Monday, Olli said this was the biggest game in his six years with the Panthers. Sad, yes. True? Yeah, probably. As Olli said today, usually the Panthers are 20 points out right now. Coming into tonight, Florida is six points out and feeling swell. Anyone catch Chris Gratton leading the chestbumps after Saturday's Tampa Bay rout?

The Panthers can win here tonight, can snap their nine-game losing streak at Philips Arena. Florida is playing its best hockey of the year, has won four straight for the first time and aren't scared of overtime or a shootout anymore. They are a dangerous team, mainly because they are the only ones who believe they're in the hunt. Sure, people look at the six points and say 'OK,' but when you look at all the teams Florida has to jump, well, that makes things a little bit tougher.

Still, what the heck. If Florida can get three of four out of this two-game roadie to ATL and PHL, they're looking well. Nine of the next 12 are at home. Not too shabby.

March 03, 2007

Mr. 1,000

Film_mr3000c1As many of you know, tonight marks the 1,000th game of Jacques Martin's NHL coaching career.

But had Jacques been selfish and didn't let longtime friend and mentor Roger Neilson coach the final games of the 2002 season, JM would have been at this milestone on Tuesday.

Sarah Rothschild had a very nice story about JM and Roger in today's Herald. Check it out here: JACQUES 1000

Talked to JM a little bit today about how much today meant to him, and basically said it was more about the Panthers getting a win (a victory over the Lightning puts the Panthers only five points back of Carolina/Islanders) tonight and about Roger's legacy in Florida and elsewhere.

Neilson People forget what a great ambasador for the game Roger Neilson was, so he was the perfect guy to start a hockey team in South Florida. Fans and players alike loved having him around, and he led the Panthers to the best season of any expansion team in league history in 1993-94.

After the Panthers fired him after two seasons (his team played for the Stanley Cup in Year 3), Neilson landed in Philadelphia before moving on to Ottawa and a job as an assistant under Martin. It could be said that Roger was the most popular assistant coach in league history. The people of Ottawa loved him, and he is still a popular figure there today. One of the legacy's Roger left behind (he passed away in 2003) is Roger's House, a children's care facility at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

-- Speaking of Jacques, he becomes the fourth Florida coach to reach 1,000 games. The others: Neilson (whom JM ties at 11th on the all-time list), Bryan Murray and old pal Mike Keenan.

-- The Panthers have some surprises in store of JM tonight, but nothing like this morning. Jacques' youngest daughter, Nathalee, snuck into practice and was taken to his office right after he came off the ice. When asked about the surprise, JM couldn't find the words. He truly was taken aback by it all.

-- Jacques Martin, 1,000 NHL games (OK, maybe more) ago as he takes the helm of the St. Louis Blues in 1986. OK, it might be Frank Forte. Not sure.