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Welcome Back

KotterBack from my roadtrip, back to reality and back to work.

Good to be home, although the trip was fantastic. Four star rating. But, after 10 days on the road, the beautiful city of Sunrise sounds good to me.

Anyway, missed quite a bit of excitement around Pantherland. There was a lot going on and I could have posted here but I really never got into the frame of mind to write.

So here's what I'm thinking now:

-- I don't think John Vanbiesbrouck meant to disparage Olli Jokinen with his radio comments last week. Sometimes Olli does seem to try too hard to be the leader of the Panthers, but he's still a relatively young player and needs to find his voice. I commend him for trying. Olli plays hard, plays hurt. He's becoming more and more of a leader in that room and will be fine. Beezer's comments about Olli being European may have raised some eyebrows because of previous comments he has made, but in this case, I think all he meant was sometimes Olli's words get twisted around because of the cultural differences. I understand Olli just fine, and think everyone else does too.

-- Speaking of leaders, going to miss Martin Gelinas. He was very respected in that room and a standup guy win or lose. Still don't know what happened here and I stand by my previous posts. He was close to coming back to Florida. I've heard the $1.25 mil offered by Nash was more than Florida was offering so there's that; and, Martin may feel more comfortable in the WC where he gets a few trips to western Canada to see the fam. Fort Lauderdale isn't the easiest of places to get flights to Calgary, trust me.

Newjerseys -- Like the new uniforms, you? I think the Panthers did a nice job tweaking a uniform style that, aside from the font of the names on back, have pretty much gone unchanged since Wayne kick-started the team in 1993. Gone are the original red road jerseys since Reebok can only handle two jerseys per team at this time and Florida digs the previously-alternate blues.

-- From all reports, Saturday's reunion game was a smash. The team originally hoped for 5,000 fans to show up, then predicted at least 8,000 a week before it happened. According to reports, almost 12,000 filed into CSA for the game between Panther alums and the '96 Eastern Conference champs. Good to see so many fans flocking to the rink in the middle of summer. I was in Georgia so I missed it.