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28 posts from June 2007

June 09, 2007

Back to Roch

Roch The Panthers and Sabres will continue their affiliation with Rochester of the American Hockey League for at least one more season.

Florida and Buffalo both supply players for the Amerks, and it's a partnership both enjoy. That said, the league would much rather have each team be affiliated with its own AHL team.

June 07, 2007

Off The Market (Updated 6/11/07)

SoldScratch Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom off the Panthers wish list as the 29-year-old Helsinki native signed a multi-year deal to stick it out with the Wild.

The Panthers are said to be shopping for a new No. 1 goalie, and Backstrom was in their sights. I'm hearing the Panthers are going to make a push for Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, but secretly hope the newly minted Stanley Cup champion re-signs with the Ducks before he hits the market so as not to seriouly get involved in the expected bidding war.

With Backstrom resigned, the Wild may look at dealing off Manny Fernandez and the two years, $8.6-plus million that comes with him. Florida is also expected to look to San Jose and try and snag Vesa Toskala. Florida could also look for a European goalie, or just bring back Ed Belfour and either Craig Anderson or Alex Auld for another season.

From what I'm hearing, the Panthers don't want to commit the $6-plus million per year it's likely going to take to get Giguere. The Panthers -- as are many teams -- are expecting Giguere to resign with the Ducks anyway, making the courtship of him moot.

As far as what was written here about the Panthers entering the final year of revenue sharing, well, that wasn't factually correct. The Panthers can get revenue sharing for the entire six-year run of the current CBA if they meet certain conditions, I'm told, but they would like to get out from under the revenue sharing umbrella by jumping into the second tier of the league in revenues (the bottom 10 teams in the league receive money from the top 10 teams while the middle 10 don't receive nor contribute.)

That said, I still don't see the Panthers having a payroll at the cap ceiling this year -- no matter where that ceiling is.

June 05, 2007

Gettin' Giggy With It

GiggyIf the Ducks win the Stanley Cup as it increasingly looks like they will, goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere stands to win his second Conn Smythe Trophy for being the MVP of the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Not bad for a guy who didn't even play in the first three games of the first series against Minnesota.

Giguere has been outstanding for the Ducks this postseason, and if not for his play in the west finals against Detroit, Anaheim probably wouldn't even be here.

And because of that, Anaheim would be crazy to let him walk away this summer. Not saying the Ducks aren't going to do just that, but it's going to be hard for them to allow it.

Giguere is going to be a hit on the free agent market, with the Panthers leading the charge for his services. The Panthers are desperate for a goalie of Giguere's stature, after realizing what they had in Roberto Luongo once he left. It's not Florida's fault Todd Bertuzzi got hurt. But the trade was a bust -- no matter how good Bryan Allen played in the second half of the season -- and signing Giguere this offseason would offset much of the damage done.

So how do the Panthers bring Giguere to South Florida?

First, he has to decide he's not going back to the O.C. The Ducks are paying him almost $4 million this year on a $40-plus million payroll. The Ducks are going to have to dole out some raises next year and at the same time probably bring some on as they try to tweak things to ensure they stick around the top of the league. The Ducks are going to reap financial benefits for winning the Cup, but GM Brian Burke says the team has a budget he will adhere to.Giguere2

With Giguere to demand a boost from his $4 million salary (look for  him to start negotiations at $6 million per), the Ducks may say they are happy with Ilya Bryzgalov ($1 mil this year) as their No. 1. Why not? He's proved he can do the job and deserves a shot somewhere (the Ducks could sign Giguere and trade Bryzgalov, but Bryz is a bargain so they might as well keep him.)

Even if Giguere and the Ducks part ways, that doesn't mean the 30-year-old is headed to Broward County. Tampa Bay would be interested in signing him, although the Bolts' financial restraints could keep them on the sidelines in this one. There have been rumblings Montreal would be interested in bringing the Montreal native home, and after missing the playoffs last year, the Habs are desperate for a big splash. Detroit, Los Angeles and Boston have also been mentioned as possible suitors.

The one major thing the Panthers have in their favor is mucho dinero. The Cats have Cash. Will they spend it? There's the question. The thought here is Florida has to go after Giguere and go after him hard. This is a team that needs to not only make the playoffs but be good enough to do something once they make them. A world-class goalie like Giguere may be that catalyst. Sure, you can say Florida never made it when Luongo was here. The truth is, some of Luongo's best young years were wasted in Florida. The team tried building up and it never caught up before Mike Keenan sent Luongo west to Vancouver.

Will the Panthers have to over pay to get Giguere? Probably. Will folks question why said money didn't go to Luongo in the first place to avoid this mess? Yep. The Panthers can't worry about second guessing in this case. And by all accounts, JM and his crew don't seem to care what outsiders think anyway.

If Giguere decides to stay with the Ducks, great. The Panthers can't blame the guy for staying with the franchise he led to a Cup championship (probably). But if he ventures onto the open market, JM and the organization needs to do everything in its power to get him here.

What if Giguere isn't out there?

Florida can look west to San Jose and maybe swing a deal for Evgeni Nabokov or Vesa Toskala; maybe they go after Minnesota's Manny Fernandez or even Niklas Backstrom.

The Panthers are expected to be active once the Stanley Cup Finals come to a close. Getting a true No. 1 goalie should be at the top of their list.

Speaking of Fighting....

ElishaStayed up a little late tonight, caught actress Elisha Cuthbert showing our man Conan O'Brien how hockey players fight.

Ms. Cuthbert must have been watching Don Cherry on Monday night's coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Again, have no reason to post this other than it was a chance to do some more "research."

In a related note: Nice job, Sean Avery.

-- Good news: One full hour of 'My Name is Earl' on Thursday.

June 04, 2007

American Grapes

GrapeapeDon Cherry almost seemed to beg NBC for another invite to their on-site set for the Stanley Cup Finals during the second intermission of Monday's game.

'Grapes' suggested to NBC sports honcho Dick Ebersol that he needs to pressure the NHL to let some more fighting in the game if he wants ratings in the states to improve.

Truth is, Ebersol might just try to get Cherry on a little more to boost what have been anemic ratings.

As far as Cherry goes, sounds like some Canadian fans are tired of his rants, but here, he's a breath of fresh air. I mean, very few fans aside from those who watch Canadian T.V. on cable (or Detroit) get to see Cherry and his suits. They sure don't get to hear his rants which really haven't changed much in 30 or so years.

Monday, Cherry went off on fighting (he's for it and talks about it all the time) but spoke his mind. Cherry makes his money on Canadian T.V., so he didn't worry about stepping on some toes in the states. It was refreshing to hear, especially when he brought up the low ratings south of the border.

I thought Cherry, Brett Hull and Bill Clement were a good mix -- and yes it was fun watching Cherry rap Hull for game-winning goal against Buffalo that won Dallas the '99 Cup (sorry Joe and Eddie).

Doncherry_2 And I agree with much of what Don and Brett spoke of. Fighting is part of hockey (I thought Brett going on and on about it being the only pure part of the game or whatever was a bit much) and should be allowed to remain so. Sometimes you gots to fight, and if tonight wasn't an all-important fourth game of the Finals, methinks you would have seen a lot more of it in the third period in response to what the Senators were pulling.

Karma's a witch, and I think Ottawa got what it deserved tonight. The Sens now need to win three straight to bring Stanley home. Don't think the Ducks are going to let that happen.

The Cup gets another summer in the sun. Hope Stanley likes Disneyland. You think hockey purists didn't like seeing the Cup paraded around Raleigh or Tampa? Wait until it hits the O.C. At least in L.A., it'll get the star treatment.

-- Hey NBC: Bring Don Cherry back for the rest of the series!

-- Billy Donovan told me Thursday he thought Ottawa was going to come back and win the Stanley Cup. Tonight he called me from Gainesville and told me he changed his mind and now he's all about Anaheim. I'm shocked he reversed field so quickly. Stanvan_2 Usually when Billy D. gives you his word, that's it. Not in this case though. Oh well.

-- Yes, I picked Ottawa to win the Cup in six. THAT ain't happening.

-- Could NBC have left Monday's game any quicker? Maybe if another horse racing pre-race show had been scheduled. Maybe.

-- Gotta run. Hear I may have antifreeze in my toothpaste. That's what I get for buying dental products at the flea market.Austin

Time to Par-tay

PartyNothing says excitement quite like the NHL Draft, unless of course the Florida Panthers are holding an NHL Draft party at the Hard Rock.

And that's the plan.

While some of us will be in Columbus, O-H-I-O, fans can gather at The Park sports bar in Hollywood to see who the Panthers take with the tenth overall pick. Exciting? You betcha!

The Panthers plan to hold said party on June 22 starting at 6 p.m. According to the Panthers, not only will Nathan Horton be there, but the Ice Dancers, some Florida alums, Steve Goldstein, Randy Moller, Bill Murphy and Kristen Hewitt will also be there.

As mentioned before, I'll be in Columbus, seeing if the Panthers can top the excitement of last year's draft. Luongo

-- Don Cherry actually makes his U.S. television debut tonight. My bad.

June 02, 2007

Lightning Bugged

Peacock_3 At least one NBC affiliate -- Tampa's WFLA-8 -- will not show tonight's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals because it had already agreed to carry the All Children's hospital telethon.

The Tampa Bay Lightning worked to fix the situation, even trying to buy time (the St. Pete Times reports it would have cost $20K) on a local independent. That fell through, but Bright House (a local cable company) picked up the game and put it on Channel 47. But, those who don't have cable -- or live in the Tampa area and don't get Bright House -- are out of luck.

Folks in South Florida will be able to watch the game on NBC-6 as scheduled.

-- Don't forget Don Cherry makes his U.S. broadcast debut tonight on NBC.

-- Also, Damian Cristodero of the Times reports the Bolts are tightening their belts and inviting only 26 players to camp this summer; that's 28 less than last year. According to Cristodero, the Lightning aren't cutting their payroll, but it isn't rising either.

Doing Something Good

SergepayerFormer Panthers' forward Serge Payer's foundation -- which helps fund research for Guillain-Barre Syndrome -- is trying to raise money this summer and it's pretty easy for folks here in South Florida to help.

Those who would like to help are encouraged to drop off any unwanted cellphones (you know you have a beat-up old Nokia lying around somewhere) or printer ink cartridges at the Pine Island Multipurpose Center in Davie. They can also be mailed to the Serge Payer Foundation at  12911 S.W. 13th Manor, Davie, FL 33325.

The foundation will be collecting the items at the Pine Island Center starting Monday, June 4 through June 29.

If you would like to read more info on Serge's foundation, check it out right here: SERGE'S SITE