« April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »

24 posts from May 2007

May 30, 2007

Very Rewarding -- Sometimes

AwardIf you've been a Panthers season ticket holder for the past 10 years, odds are you've seen some pretty bad hockey at some point.

And you're about to get some rewards for your loyalty to the South Florida 6.

The Panthers announced today that they will honor their longtime season ticket holders with a special loyalty recognition program. Catch is: Longtime means since at least 1997 when the team played at Miami Arena.

"Our season ticket holders are the lifeblood of the franchise,'' Michael Yormark said in an e-mail addressed to me and no one else. OK, that isn't true. "This program is just one small way of showing that appreciation.''

Those season ticket holders who qualify will receive a special gift, mention in the game program throughout the season and get other stuff. They will also get a special meet-and-greet with the '96 Panthers during the July reunion weekend.

Almost makes up for the Chris Wells trade, huh?

Back in Time

WayneCovered the Marlins on Sunday with the Mets pulling off their first three-game sweep of the Fish in Miami since Oct. 1-3, 1993.

That, for the historians out there, was the final series of the Marlins first season.

A lot of folks in South Florida quickly turned their attention to something else after that last Mets sweep. The Panthers were about to make their debut, playing their first game of their first season on Oct. 6 at Chicago (it's a 4-4 tie).

Where were you back then? I remember being in Cleveland for the final Indians games at Municipal Stadium then coming home to be at the first Panthers game at Miami Arena on Oct. 12 (a 2-1 loss to the Pens). Pantherticket

Goalie Feels Bad

MannyfernandezMinnesota goalie Manny Fernandez, who may or may not have been a key part of the Dolphins' perfect season in 1972, expects to be traded this summer.

There have been reports the Panthers are interested, but I'm hearing Fernandez's cost ($9.25 mil over two years) is too much for the Panthers to take (not because they're being cheap, they just don't think Mr. Fernandez -- who has had knee problems but hasn't had surgery -- is worth that kind of jingle.)

Anywho, Fernandez talked to the Pioneer Press' Brian Murphy on Tuesday in a story which can be found here: YOU LIKE MINNYSOTA, NO?

In the piece, Fernandez says he doesn't think he's gotten much support from the Wild.

THIS COMMENT COMES FROM A READER: Or, the Panthers might consider a deal with the Wild where the Panthers are rewarded for taking a "bad contract" off the Wild's hands. Something along the lines of Fernandez and the Wild's 1st rd pick for Alex Auld.

FROM G: This is a pretty interesting thought, especially since the Wild won't find many bidders under the current situation. Manny just makes too much money for the uncertainty of the play. I think to get rid of his contract, they are going to have to sweeten the pot a tad. Whether the Panthers take the bait or not remains to be seen. And Auld would have to be resigned by the Panthers before he could be traded. The Panthers have to qualify him.

May 27, 2007

Someone Step on a Duck?

DuckShocking news out of Southern California: The Los Angeles Times is reporting the Ducks' recent success hasn't really gripped the region the way a long playoff run by the Dodgers, Lakers -- even the Angels -- would have.

The Times says a visit to sports bars around the Honda Center in Anaheim one recent night had "patrons wore baseball caps and basketball jerseys. There wasn't a Ducks hat or shirt in sight.''

Here's a quote: "The Angels are much more popular … even now," said David Robertson, sitting at the bar.

To read the entire story, click here: LA TIMES 'JUST DUCKY'

Of course, that could just be the snooty view from Los Angeles. Down in the O.C., there's talk about Cup hysteria and just general craziness.

Dan Wood of the Orange County Register writes on his blog that Anaheim has proven to be quite the hockey market. The Honda Center is sold out for the Cup Finals (and has been for a while). Here's Dan's take on it from the mean streets of Anaheim: BLOGGIN DUCKS

Canada's Team?

TimhortonsWord on the street is that while the Ottawa Senators reside in their nation's capital and happen to be the last Canadian NHL team standing, many Canadians refuse to root for them in this Stanley Cup Final.

To me, that makes a lot of sense.

I found it strange last year to see all these diehard Calgary fans suddenly pulling for rival Edmonton only because that team was based in Canada. Suddenly you don't hate that team anymore? Beaver

Kind of reminds me of college athletics. I found it strange to see Tennessee fans rooting for Florida, or Gator fans rooting for Georgia for the "good of the SEC." Really? Dude, if I dislike your school, I'm not rooting for it in the postseason just because we're related by way of conference affiliation. I'm still rooting against you.

So, good for those Toronto fans who refuse to root on the Senators; salutations to the fans of the Montreal Canadians who ain't impressed by Bryan Murray's bunch and will cheer on Anaheim. If fans in Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton want to root on the Sens, go for it. Those teams never play Ottawa so what the heck.

Bobdoug In the same regard, somewhat, I wonder how many Florida fans rooted for Tampa Bay in 2004 "for the good of the Sunshine State." I'm thinking not many. Carolina in 2006? Don't really know.

But I'm thinking if Ottawa wins a couple early games in this series and it looks like Stanley's coming home, fans from around Canada will warm to the idea of the Sens winning it all.

After all, Ottawa is a Canadian city. And hockey is Canada's game. Michaeljfox_2

Why can't they all just get along?

May 26, 2007

Great First Pitch

MayraCovering baseball this weekend at JRS and felt compelled to let you, the loyal reader of On Frozen Pond, know about who the Marlins rolled out to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday night.

Instead of a local politico or unknown executive, the Marlins were very proud to introduce Ms. Mayra Veronica. To those not in the know, Ms. Mayra was named one of the sexiest women in the world by the late, great, FHM magazine.

After doing some diligent research, I found that Ms. Mayra came in 12th in the FHM rankings. I also found some pictures of the young lady. Sometimes research comes with a reward.

I now turn my attention to talking to the Panthers. We need to get Ms. Mayra at some hockey games. She could drop the ceremonial first puck at some games.

Every night you say? Let's see what we can work out.

-- For those of you going "what in the world does this post have to do with hockey?" Simply put: It' doesn't.

Otto But this does: Steve Goldstein and the Marlins held a youth camp here at Dolphin Stadium Saturday morning. It's part of Steve's charity work with Goldie's Gang. Good stuff. Goldie has his charity golf tournament this week down at Miccosukee in south Miami. A good cause worth supporting. For more info, check here: GOLDIE'S OK WITH G

May 24, 2007

Ramsey Fired

RamseyOne of hockey's good guys is out of a job today as Tampa Bay has released assistant coach Craig Ramsey after seven seasons with the Lightning.

Apparently Ramsey and John Tortorella didn't see eye-to-eye on some things. I'm sure a lot of people find that hard to believe.

"Over the course of this past season, it became apparent to me, and to John, that we still had some fundamental philosophical differences between our head coach and our associate coach on a number of issues,'' Lightning GM Jay Feaster wrote in a release e-mailed out Thursday morning. "After having a series of meetings with various  members of the organization, we have regretfully, yet necessarily, chosen to make a change in the coaching staff effective immediately.''

Ramsey played in the NHL for 14 seasons and has been the head coach in Buffalo and Philadelphia. Ramsey, a cancer survivor, has also been an assistant in those two cities. Ramsey has also been an assistant coach with the Panthers and Senators. Ramsey was an assistant for Florida's first two seasons under Roger Neilson, leaving when Roger got fired after the 1994-95 season. Ramsey spent two years as an assistant under JM in Ottawa from 1996-98.

"We thank Craig for his seven years of service to this franchise and for his hard work and dedication in helping us become Stanley Cup champions,'' Feaster continued. "Rammer will always be a part of the Lightning family as a member of that [championship] team. So many players have benefited from Rammer's guidance and wisdom over the years, and he will be deeply missed by all of us. Rammer is a great person and a tremendous hockey man, and we wish him every continued personal and professional success.''

Husker Hysteria

HoosiersJust sitting here watching 'Hoosiers' for the 137th time on AMC and started to wonder if hockey had any teams that could relate to the fictional* Hickory Huskers.

One team that jumps to mind is the 1996 Florida Panthers. A third-year expansion team, the Panthers made their playoff debut that spring and shocked Boston. The underdog Cats then upset Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. While the Panthers were swept by Colorado (in their first year in Denver after moving south from Quebec City), they remain one of the most popular teams in South Florida sports history.

I think a big reason that team remains so popular is because how they did things. No one expected the Panthers to do anything when that postseason started, and they just took everyone around them for a ride. It was good stuff. But the Panthers didn't win. What great underdog team actually took home the Cup? Carolina and Tampa Bay could be lumped in here, but those were pretty good teams no one outside of Tampa or Raleigh took seriously because they were from Tampa and Raleigh.

Don't think you can lump either Ottawa nor Anaheim in the underdog category. Anaheim was the trendy pick to advance to the Finals from Day 1, while Ottawa's been knocking on the door for years and had a terrific second half.  Should be a great Finals.

Milan (*) The Huskers were based on tiny Milan High in Indiana, your 1954 state champions. The Milan Indians were led by Bobby Plump -- the real-life Jimmy Chitwood. So there you go.

May 23, 2007

Capt. Jacques Sparrow

SparrowPanthers coach/GM Jacques Martin is nowhere near the Caribbean, and it's too early to figure out if he's much of a pirate when it comes to his GM duties.

JM has only swung a few deals since taking over when Mike Keenan "resigned" as GM last September. One deal was sending Todd Bertuzzi to Detroit for a conditional (second round) draft pick and prospect Todd Mathias. Jury is out on that one (FLA could also get a second pick if Bert re-ups with the Wings), but since Todd had not played since October and was an UFA at season's end, OK.

JM also sent Ric Jackman west to Anaheim for a conditional (now a sixth round) pick, and since Jackman wasn't playing much, JM gets a passing grade on this one too.

JM's biggest deal so far was trading Gary Roberts (also a UFA) to Pittsburgh for D prospect Noah Welch. Time will tell, but JM got something in return for a player who desperately wanted to play in the postseason and was walking after the season. Again, pass him.

Florida's GM is currently in Vancouver scouting out the Memorial Cup and working on Florida's plan for the offseason. Surely (don't call me Shirley) they are looking for a goalie. Surely the Panthers have been paying attention to the guy in net for the Ducks. Of course, Vancouver has a pretty good goalie. Maybe JM's talking to him? Ha!

-- Spoke at length today with JM, one question broached was whether the Panthers were in talks with Ottawa last year during the Roberto Luongo 'Let's Make a Deal-athon." JM says he's the wrong guy to ask. "I wasn't the GM at the time.'' Luongo ended up in Vancouver and Ottawa ended up keeping Ray Emery -- who has helped lead the Sens to the Stanley Cup Finals by losing just three games in 15 postseason starts.

-- JM also spoke about Jay Bouwmeester's hip surgery (not major), how he's rooting for his former players and organization in the SC Final and that he's happy how the Todd Bertuzzi trade (the second one, not necessarily the first one) worked out.

More on that in tomorrow's Miami Herald.

-- OK, here are some quotes -- About the Sens: "I feel good about where the organization is, where the team is because I was part of that for nine years. It’s good to see them continue and succeed. You have to move on it professional sports. The challenge now is to build our organization to have the same kind of success Ottawa has. You want to be in the playoffs every year, have a chance to win the Cup every year. We want that here.’’

About JayBo: “After several exams and several treatment options, he still some persistent pain. He went home (to Edmonton) and started working out. It was uncomfortable. We felt we should act now and not wait and find out in October he needs surgery and would miss a few months. It’s nothing major. He played with it at end of the season.’’

-- No hockey until Monday night. Great.

May 22, 2007

Playoffs Continue

MemcupAs the NHL playoffs roll on, the Memorial Cup -- the championship tournament of Canadian Junior Hockey -- is off to a rollicking start.

The four-team tournament (featuring the champions of the Ontario, Quebec major-junior, Western hockey leagues and the host city) kicked off Friday with the host Vancouver Giants beating Plymouth 4-3 in overtime. The game set a tournament record as Panthers prospect Kenndal McArdle (first round pick in 2005) scored the game winner.

There are a pair of Florida prospects playing in the tournament, with McArdle tied for seventh with two goals in Vancouver's first two games.  Plymouth's Dan Collins hasn't scored in either of his two games.

Plymouth plays its final  prelim game tonight at 9  EST, with unbeaten Vancouver playing Medicine Hat tomorrow night. If a tie-breaker game is needed, it'll be Thursday; the semifinals are Friday with the championship on Sunday afternoon.

Plenty of News

Tedknight Quite a few things going on in the hockey world, so no snarky comments. Getting right to the meat of things. Yep.

-- Panthers D-man Jay Bouwmeester had what the team is calling minor hip surgery today in Vail, Colorado. It was thought he might need some kind of surgery because he was limping around at the end of the year. He said he was working with the team's trainers in trying to avoid surgery, but apparently the knife was needed. More info as it comes.

-- The NHL announced the Stanley Cup Finals kick off Monday night in either Anaheim or Detroit. Luckily for television viewers in the U.S., the first two games are on Versus so the game can go into overtime if it wants and folks don't need to go hunting. NBC picks up Game 3 and beyond. Here's the sked:

Game 1: Monday (VS)
Game 2: Wednesday (VS)
Game 3: Saturday, June 2 (NBC)
Game 4: June 4 (NBC)
Game 5*: June 6 (NBC)
Game 6*: June 9 (NBC)
Game 7*: June 11 (NBC)
* if necessary

-- Incredible Ice in Coral Springs announced today it was going to the County Blue Line Challenge on June 2 at 4 p.m. The charity game pits the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office vs. Broward law enforcement. All proceeds benefit families of fallen officers. Admission is $10, but you can give more if you would like. It's for a good cause, so why not. For more info, go to incredibleice.com or call 954-341-9956.

May 18, 2007

No Crying in Hockey

HanksAs much as I hate being the bearer of bad news, I must inform Herald Nation that the Everblades season is over.

Yes, the Blades went down tonight, losing Game 7 of the American Conference finals to visiting Dayton 3-1 in Estero.

The Blades were the last pro hockey team playing in the Sunshine State, and now it's done. The Bombers move on to the Kelly Bluebook Cup Finals against Dennis Erickson's Idaho Vandals. Or something like that.

Fans in Estero shouldn't take the loss so hard. The team is nine years old and has yet to miss the playoffs. I'm not good at math, but I don't think the Panthers have made the playoffs in nine years*.

(*) -- The Panthers last made the playoffs in 2000. You do the math. I'm tired.

Greetings from St. Petersburg

StpeteFlorida, that is.

No hockey tonight (except in Estero), so I thought I would talk a little baseball. Not Indians baseball, we're talking Devil Rays.

Sitting here at Tropicana Field watching the Marlins smash the Devil Rays (it's currently 7-0) and trying to remember what this joint looked like when it was home to the Lightning. Came here for a few games and remember having fun despite being off the ice a bit. But now that its configured for baseball, I can't see the hockey rink in this place for the life of me.

Believe it or not, Tropicana Field/Thunderdome/Suncoast Dome looks pretty good right now. The talk around the Marlins is many would gladly trade their life at Joe Robbie for one in this stadium (provided it was picked up and dropped off somewhere in South Florida, of course).

Can you imagine any other Major League team walking into the Trop and going "hey, this place ain't bad! It's better than our yard!" OK, maybe the Twins, but they're getting a new park.

And you should see all the ads in this barn. The Panthers would choke. They are everywhere but on the playing field. Frank Forte and myself felt right at home walking around here this afternoon.

Snausages -- As you can probably guess, I'm a big fan of the Sausage Race at Milwaukee. I always root for the Bratwurst because, well, because I'm a big fan of Bratwurst.

The Rays have their own version of the race, only instead of various meat and pork products, they have foam bottles (one water, one soda, one a Sprite-type knockoff) racing the Rays mascot. His name is Ray. Anyway, not as good as Milwaukee. Or the President's Race in Washington. But it's better than Billy the Marlin's video airboat race, but then again, what isn't?

-- Apparently the Lightning left the horn went they moved across the bay into their new digs. When the Lightning, um Rays, hit a homer, the big horn goes off just like in a hockey game. Kept waiting for Panthers PA guy Bill Murphy to shout "Devil Raaaaaaaysssss....home run! His first of the night and seventh of the season, Ty Wigginton!"

-- Speaking of hockey, I went to a baseball game and a wrestling match broke out. Seriously. The Rays held a tribute to wrestling legends show after Friday's game. Wished I would have known about it ahead of time and I would have let Herald wrestling expert/guru Jim Varsallone know (I'm sure he's here).

For those wrestling fans out there, here were the matches: King Haku vs. Tatanka; Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine; The Nasty Boys (Jerry Sags and Brian Knobb) vs. Rick Steiner and The Cuban Assassin (who wore a Marlins jersey before the game). Also here: Bret "The Hitman" Hart, "Mean" Gene Okerlund, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart and B. Brian Blair. I don't know who these guys are, not a wrestling fan. But plenty of folks are, and I'm cool with that.

They set up the ring just behind home plate and set up seats around the on-deck circles. If I wasn't working, I might have enjoyed the action. The fans who stuck around seemed to like it. Anyways, here's a pic from the Treo. Sorry for the quality. Sure wrasslin fans can visit devilrays.com tomorrow and get better pictures.



May 17, 2007

Bert's Big Night

Bert4Todd Bertuzzi had one whale of a second period in Anaheim, no? Dude scores Detroit's second goal to cut the Ducks' lead to 3-2, then has a great shot blocked that Daniel Cleary knocks in to tie the score.

Ric Jackman, the former Florida d-man making his postseason debut tonight, made it a 2-1 game for the Ducks with his power play goal. Would love to see Ric get some more PT, but once Chris Pronger comes back for Game 5 on Sunday, I think Ric finds a spot in the press box again. At least he can say he took advantage of his opportunities.

Nice win for the Ducks. Detroit put the pressure on and Anaheim responded. This could be huge.

Ecstatic in Estero

Oldschool_2 The party is raging on the southwest coast of the Sunshine State tonight because the Florida Everblades won Game 6 of their conference finals Thursday night forcing a decisive Game 7 Friday night in the friendly confines that is Germain Arena.

The Blades beat Dayton 6-3 tonight in their do-or-die game. According to the Naples News, the Everblades have never played in a Game 7 in their nine year playoff history.

I'm making the drive across the 'glades tomorrow morning, but unfortunately it's not to visit the Blades. Covering the Marlins in Tampa -- err, St. Petersburg. Hear it's supposed to be a nice night for a ballgame. Hope there's a nice breeze coming off the bay, maybe I'll open the press box window to get some fresh air. Whaddaya mean they play in a dome?

Rumor is they played hockey there at one time. College basketball too.

Grattstbay Finalfour

Lord Stanley in Beantown?

DennycraneWord on the street is some whackjob lawyer in Boston hoisted the Stanley Cup so he could put his name on it alongside those Boston Bruins who actually won the chalice back in 1970.

The NHL doesn't seem to be too concerned about the hijacking of the Cup.

In fact, they've been bragging about its disappearance.

That's because the Boston lawyer is none other than Denny Crane, the guy who looks a lot like an older Captain Kirk and/or the Priceline.com guy. Anyway, seems the Cup is OK. Cooler heads prevailed, and that's a good thing.

Denny Crane.

(*) -- The previous post was refering to the Stanley Cup's appearence on Tuesday's episode of Boston Legal. I missed the episode because I watching Anaheim/Detroit and plum forgot about it. Will catch it during reruns this summer. I like Boston Legal. And Priceline.com.

-- As promised, here are some quotes from Tuesday's Cats Cookout.

PS: JM says Martin Gelinas has still not indicated what he wants to do next year, but the Panthers want him back for a third season in Sunrise.

NATHAN HORTON: "We're going to have a good season next year. Half the team is still here and working out, so that's exciting to be around. We need to start at the beginning. We've started way to late and it's cost us the playoffs. Everyone is going to come in on top shape and ready to go from the start. We have a good team. We're going to start and not look back."

On his impending contract status: "I don't deal with that stuff. My agent and the team deal with all that. I'm just trying to make myself better and be the best I can. I want to stay here. It's so much fun. This is going to be the place to be in the next few years.''

STEPHEN WEISS: "We have to come into camp with a chip on our shoulder. I hope everyone is upset. That is a key to us. We have to be upset right away and play like that early. We can't wait a couple months to play the way we do in the second half of the season. We have to come out and be angry early, get over that hump early.''

BILL LINDSAY (on '96 reunion): "It feels like that run of ours was just yesterday. It's something I'll always have with me. It was a special time. To start a franchise the way we did -- we were the fastest expansion team to the Finals, we had the most points of any first-year team - was pretty special. We hit some lofty goals early. To go through that with those guys made it special.''

May 16, 2007

Reunited may not feel so Good

Berternie3 Ric Jackman? Meet Todd Bertuzzi. Todd, this is Ric. Some call him Jack, some don't.

Anyway, while the two didn't spend much time on the ice together while with the Panthers this season, Ric and Bert will likely reacquaint themselves Thursday in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

With Anaheim's Chris Pronger suspended for the game, it appears Ric is healthy -- the team says he's suffered from back spasms -- and will make his postseason debut as Pronger's replacement.Ricjackman_2

Jackman played in only seven games for the Panthers this season (hey, that's the same number of games Bert played in) before being traded west to Anaheim. He appeared in 24 games with the Ducks, scoring once with 10 assists. Bertuzzi has now played in 13 postseason games, so once he hits the ice Thursday, he will have played in twice as many playoff games as he skated in as a member of the Panthers. And for a lot less money than the Panthers paid him, for sure.

Rodney -- Some have complained about the lack of entries here of late. I feel your pain. So do a number of golf courses around Broward County. Sheesh. I need to get back to work and leave these innocent golf courses alone. What have they ever done to me? Nothing. It's not right (although I do hit the ball that way quite a bit).

-- Was at the Cats Cookout on Tuesday. Nice deal. They announced the '96 reunion weekend (golf tournament on July 27 at Parkland CC, charity game at CSA on July 28). Details: they have VIP packages for both, although fans can buy general admission tickets for $5 on the day of the game. A free ticket can be printed out by visiting the team's website.

-- Met up with Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton yesterday. Both say they want to remain with the Panthers and why not. I mean seriously. What else do you expect them to say. If you are a Panthers fan, however, it looks good that Nathan is sticking around SFla during the offseason and during the off-ice program the team wants instead of spending his entire break back in Canada.

Will have more stuff from these two here tomorrow after I go through the tape.

May 10, 2007

The Boys are Back

MiamiarenaGet out those rubber rats, the 1996 Florida Panthers are planning a comeback.

According to folks inside the organization, a reunion weekend is scheduled for sometime in July; it's going to include a dinner, golf tournament, and yes, a reunion game.

While the game should take place at Miami Arena, the Panthers don't own that place. So, the Sunrise arena is going to have to do. The official announcement is going to come at Tuesday's cookout at the arena, with Randy Moller telling me there's going to be a few of the '96 players on hand. Current Panthers Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton are also scheduled to appear.

Players you can expect to take part in the '96 reunion include Scott Mellanby, John Vanbiesbrouck, Bill Lindsey and Gord Murphy.

Don't have details on tickets or anything like that just yet. From what I've been told, it's costing like $50,000 to put ice back into the arena in the middle of the summer. So the team seems to be taking this seriously (or it's trying to get another version of Disney on Ice to come through town.)

Course we could always do this thing down in Miami. Betcha there's plenty of rats running around the old arena these days.

May 09, 2007

Making the Cut -- Florida Style

Keenan Americans love their reality shows, Survivor and the Simple Life have proven that.

So do Canadians. One of the most popular shows on the Global Network is called 'Making the Cut.' Former Panthers GM Mike Keenan and his staff (which includes Florida director of hockey ops Jack Birch) ran a camp this August with hockey hopefuls. The winner gets a new car, a $250,000 endorsement contract and the use of a agent.

While the camp ended last August, the show has run throughout the winter in Canada. The winner was finally announced Saturday night. Your winner? Panthers prospect Franklin MacDonald.

A 22-year-old defenseman, MacDonald knew he won the deal last summer but had to sign a confidentiality agreement where he kept it a secret. According various stories, MacDonald couldn't even tell his parents he had won the reality series. The series concluded at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

“It was pretty hard to keep it from everybody but I tried to stay away from all the questions about the show and turn the questions to something else,” MacDonald told the Cape Breton Post. “It’s over now so it’s a monkey off my back, I guess.” Read more HERE

MacDonald signed a three-year deal with the Panthers after attending the team's rookie camp in Toronto. Keenan, who invited MacDonald to the camp after his Making the Cut appearance, wasn't around to see the fruits of his summertime work. MacDonald signed with the Panthers on Sept. 14, 2006, weeks after Keenan left the organization.

After starting the season in Rochester, MacDonald was sent to Florida of the ECHL where he is helping the Everblades in their playoff push.

Bert's just Ducky

Bert2_2 The Red Wings hope Todd Bertuzzi and his teammates handle the Anaheim Ducks as easily as the Sesame Street duo handle the rubberized version.

So do the Panthers.

The biggest Wings fans in South Florida may just reside at 1 Panther Parkway, what with the success of Detroit in the Western Conference finals directly affecting the Florida Panthers.

Bertuzzi, you may remember, once played for the Panthers. He only played seven games for the Sunrise 6, and Florida traded him to Detroit for conditional draft picks. Here's the deal: Since Detroit made it to the conference finals, the one pick (the only one Florida owns so far) is a second round pick (up from a third) in the upcoming entry draft. If the Wings make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, it becomes a first round pick. The second pick comes only if Bert resigns with the Wings in the offseason.