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28 posts from April 2007

April 10, 2007

The Last Day

Bankatlanticice2007_2 The ice is gone in Sunrise, smashed up and hauled out of the old arena.

The locker room is cleared out, the final autographs signed and the extra game jerseys hauled out.

We met up with the team one last time on Tuesday, with three of the four local TV stations represented. It was like opening day all over again. Wonder what they were there for? Oh yeah, they wanted to talk to the Panthers goalie about his future plans and what happened the other night. After Alex Auld got done talking, the TV guys left. Ed Belfour wouldn't come out and talk. I was shocked at that revelation.

Ville Peltonen did speak a little about his arrest the other night on South Beach. He seemed very sorry the whole thing happened and apologized to his family, teammates and the organization. He then talked some hockey stuff. Very stand up. Very impressive. I hope he comes back. I've always liked talking to Ville anyway. Today he took his medicine and faced the media. Now it's over.

-- Olli wouldn't talk about his injuries today, but said he won't play for Finland in the WC. That means he's probably going to need wrist surgery (he has an injury similar to Mike Van Ryn) in the coming weeks. Van Ryn will have surgery on one of his wrists next week. Olli also has said in the past he needs to do something with the nerve damage in his right leg. Whether that means surgery -- he seemed to think so six weeks ago -- will be decided.

-- Ville says he's playing for Finland. Jay Bouwmeester says maybe to Canada because he says he's having hip problems. Expect Olesz to join Czech Republic as well.

-- Alex Auld says he wants to come back next year. Had a lot of interesting things to say, like he plans to be more aggressive next year and should have seized his moments when they were there. He admitted it was tough to have a bad game and then sit for a while and watch Eddie win.

Lockerroom-- Today was the last day for me sneaking into the locker room to give you, the loyal Herald hockey reader, the inside scoop.

We'll still have hockey news, it'll just be from somewhere away from Sunrise.

-- Feel free to leave your first round playoff picks below. No contest this time, but you can get some bragging rights with your buddies.

April 09, 2007

Vacation Delayed

VacationwhipperSo much for a fun-filled afternoon off.

Panthers Ed Belfour and Ville Peltonen were arrested Monday morning on Miami Beach for separate yet-connected alcohol related incidents. Belfour was arrested for drunken disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after refusing to leave Nikki Beach. Peltonen was arrested for messing with a Miami Beach firetruck.

Both spent the rest of the morning at Dade County Jail.

The Panthers are probably lucky more players weren't involved. Almost the entire team was there as they held their informal end of the season party. The night started at China Grill for dinner, then ended at Nikki Beach.  According to one player, things weren't even that out of hand although security didn't like the amount of alcohol being consumed. Sounds like Ed got ticked and got loud. He was asked to leave, and again, he didn't like that either.

More as the story develops.

April 07, 2007

Turn out the Lights, the Party's Over

DandydonThey say that all good things must end. And this Panthers season too. Oh!

Just kidding. Been a fun season and it's been a fun -- if not frustrating at times -- team to cover. A good bunch of guys, truthfully. I enjoy covering them and am looking forward to next year.

Enjoyed blogging all things Panthers since the preseason game in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico way back when. Enjoyed the interaction with the Florida faithful and hope you all enjoyed it as well.

Don't think this is it, though. I have a full summer planned for On Frozen Pond, details to come Monday or Tuesday. Going to be plenty of hockey talk, some baseball stuff, and of course the goofy photos. Going to include the fans of this space to write in and submit some stuff too. We're going to keep it clean, but we're going to keep it fun.

Eighty two games in the books. And that ain't counting the horrific preseason schedule. Oy.

See you around the bend.

Good day, eh.


Gone Golfing

Rodneydangerfield "Good job for them. They get to be heroes again. They get to start golfing next week while we're in the playoffs. I'd sure rather be in this position than the one they are in. I'm sure they feel good about themselves.'' -- Tampa Bay captain Tim Taylor after Florida beat the Lightning 7-2 on Friday night.

My first thought when I heard that? I'm putting that high in my game story. Second? What does Olli Jokinen think about such a quote. Third? Where is  Chris Gratton playing golf on Monday. I'm thinking Parkland.

Anyway, good stuff. And tough talk from a guy whose team got bolt-slapped up and down by the ice by the Panthers. Sure, the Panthers are going to have a longer summer, but Taylor can feel secure in saying such a thing because no one is going to hold him to it. These two teams are done for the year. And, as one Panther joked (it was off the record so I can't say his name) Taylor may not even be in the league next year.

Another -- OK, this one was Gratton -- said he found it surprising that Taylor didn't say something after Florida beat the Lightning 5-2 last week.

I just think it was a bit of sour grapes after the Lighting got dogged by the cats (dogs and cats living together?) for the better part of two years. Sure it sucks for them, but it's life. Florida somehow matches up with Tampa Bay, and usually plays pretty hard against them.

-- Speaking of Tim Taylor, I think his show really started to tank after Pam Anderson left. Timtoolman

-- Left my hotel at 5:20 this morning. Since I was right across the street from the Lightning arena, I tried waking up ThunderBug from his perch atop the arena. Couldn't get his/her attention. I always thought the early bug got the worm (ouch!)

-- Noah Welch back in the lineup tonight. Still wearing No. 6. Thought some might like to know.

-- Welch said last night that his goal against the Lightning really was his first inside the state of Florida. Well, how's that for a Sunshine State welcome?

-- Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times had a funny lede from last night's game. Basically said the game got so bad one fan yelled "I should have gone to the Devil Rays game.'' Yeah, if you're sitting at a hockey game and would rather be watching the Rays at Tropicana Field, it's a stinky game.

-- It's cold in Raleigh right now. Not Minnesota or Montreal cold, but cold. Had to buy some winter clothes today since mine are safely packed away in sunny Sunrise, Fla. The one time I don't check weather.com before I travel.....

April 06, 2007

What's in a Name? Number?

WelchNoah Welch not only made his Florida debut on Friday, but got his first goal in a Panther uniform. Heck, it may have been his first goal in the state of Florida for all I know. Could I look it up? Sure. Am I? Probably won't.

Anyway, Welch is wearing No. 6, a number that has been pretty popular with the Panthers over the years.

Welch becomes the eighth player to don numero seis in Panthers history. The lineup: Greg Smyth, Peter Andersson, Jason Woolley, Jeff Norton, Peter Ratchuk, current Lightning d-man Dan Boyle, and of course Peter Worrell (actually, Andreas Lilja wore No. 6 but I thought it was Worrell). So, if Welch has a great career and has his number retired, Peter Andersson can bring his family to Sunrise, point to the rafters and say "hey, there's my number!''

Of course, Welch could always change it. I hear No. 44 is available. No. 1 too.

-- Fans in Tampa booing their beloved Bolts. Of course it is 4-0. ThunderBug on the ice right now. Thought you should know.

-- From the useless, menial trivia department: According to the stat wizard known as FSN producer Mitch Rubenstein, Welch became the first player to score in his Panther debut since Todd Bertuzzi. Nice. Mitch adds that 29 percent of Nathan Horton's goals (nine of 31) this year have come against the Lightning.

-- Tonight's game may not be on TV, but the press box at the Ice Palace reminds one of the FSN television booth. Not only is Mitch here, but Denis Potvin is too. Dave Strader would have made the game, but went to Raleigh instead. He just loves that country cookin!


Living on the Edge

ThunderbugThe pressure is on the good people of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Largo,  Lakeland, Pinellas Park, even Lutz, to start buying some Lightning playoff tickets. If not, the team's lovable, hugable mascot is sleeping outside for a while.

According to the Lightning, the team's mascot -- let's just call him/her ThunderBug -- is moving to the roof of the Ice Palace after tonight's game. The mascot stays there until the team sells out its opening playoff game. Opponent? TBD. Day, time, site? TBD.

The Lightning had a sellout, SRO crowd for Friday's game, so selling some postseason ducats shouldn't be a problem. Actually, it's a problem the Panthers would love to have.

-- The thundersticks were back in force at the Ice Palace on Friday night. Man, I really hate those things. Shouldn't have written that. Now I know that Panthers will have them next year.

-- D Noah Welch did indeed make his Florida debut against the Lightning Friday night. Alexei Semenov said he was good to go after Friday's morning skate, meaning Welch -- an emergency call-up -- was headed back to the minors. But, low and behold, Welch played and Semenov was a scratch. Guess JM had a talk with Alexei, assuring him his "injured groin'' needed more "rest.''

-- Love that ThunderBug, really, I do. He's no Love Bug though. Everyone loves Herbie. Herbie

April 03, 2007

Taking a Dive

DivinggraphicRaleigh, N.C., may be landlocked, but according to some members of the Panthers, it's the dive capital of the south.

Yeah, it's been a few days since the Panthers were eliminated from postseason contention after losing to the Hurricanes on Sunday, but the fallout of Ed Belfour's bunny hop across the ice continues. Was on XM Radio's Home Ice not too long ago, and they all still wanted to talk about Eddie's dive act after Bryan Allen got called for hooking Eric Staal.

Diving Missed it?

Here is the FSN Florida video from the game, sent to YouTube by our good friend Lenny. Special thanks to my friend Pheebs for alerting me to this new footage. Nice job all: EDDIE! EDDIE!

Staal, meanwhile, called Belfour's actions stupid, and told our good buddy Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News-Observer the Eddie cost the Panthers the game. My opinion is Staal felt the tug and went down. Good for him. He knows a 4-on-3 in overtime is deadly; Carolina was desperate for a win (the Canes had lost 3 straight) and he did what he did.

Eddie? Funny stuff. It got the fans into the game even more -- although the throwing of junk onto the ice was disgraceful and dangerous. It appears Eddie has become quite the popular character around these parts which should help him in contract negotiations if he chooses to return to Florida (some players think the heat and humidity is really good for his back so the odds are good he wants to come back. Whether the Panthers go that direction is another blog entry.)

And good for him for coming out and talking to the media afterward. He spoke his mind, and let his feelings be known. Good stuff indeed.

-- Line of the day from one of my friends at XM Radio (won't give out the name so Eric Staal doesn't get mad at him): Belfour gets two for swimming but Staal gets nothing for diving? Unbelievable!

THE NEWS: JM told the gathered throng today in D.C. (I was not among them, will watch game at Q-deck tonight on Center Ice) that Jozef Stumpel is out for the rest of the season, his banged up left (I think) shoulder too much to continue now that they are out of the race. Welcome back Kamil Kreps, called up on Sunday, send back on Monday and recalled again on Tuesday.

-- Craig Anderson in net tonight as Eddie "Dance Fever" Belfour takes the night off. According to my peeps in D.C., Anderson will start one of the final two games. I just hope it ain't the one in Carolina!

April 01, 2007

Hard to say Goodbye

Dscn0488This is what happened to the ice at CSA after last year's season finale. Just moments after Mike Van Ryn scored in overtime to beat Atlanta, workers began chopping and pounding at the ice (notice someone painted a smiley face on the panther at center ice).

Don't think they're killing the ice today, not with Disney on Ice coming to town. But make no mistake about it, today is Florida's last game on home ice this season.

Now six points out and needing everyone in front of them to completely choke the rest of the way, Florida goes back to finishing the string and playing role of spoiler -- even though it looks like Carolina is in the same position as your Florida Panthers.

Anyway, it's been a fun season.

Post your favorite highlights -- and lowlights -- of the Panthers 2006-07 campaign below. What I'll remember from Florida's home season this year:

Todd Bertuzzi leading the blowout of Boston on Opening Night; that cheesy Hard Rock intro featuring Olli and the boyz; daily chats with Eddie; the team ignoring it's 1000th game; the team heaping praise on JM and Gratts for their 1000th game; Nathan Horton's "the rainmaker is upfront and honest;" losing 7-0 to the Kings; the Panthers finally beating Atlanta here just a few weeks ago; the bobblehead promotion that wasn't promoted.

Sure, there are more good and bad memories, but I'm trying to keep things short.

And for those who missed it, here's the Hard Rock video: GREAT LAUGHS Thanks again to Matty for posting that on YouTube.