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21 posts from August 2007

August 31, 2007

Good Seats, Now Available

GoaljudgeSome of the best seats at BankAtlantic Center could soon be yours for a price, as the seats formerly reserved for the goal judge may be up for sale.

The NHL is allowing teams to move the goal judge from their spots behind the goalie, with many teams opting to move them up to the press box level. The Panthers have confirmed they will do the same, although they haven't decided what to do with the seats.

One thought is they could be used by FSN, another is they could be sold either as a season ticket or game-by-game. Let's say the seats aren't sold for a game against Carolina, then FSN could use them.

I hope whomever ends up in these seats uses decorum when turning on the red light.

For more on this issue, check out this story in the Globe&Mail: TURN ON THE RED LIGHT

-- Speaking of red lights, reigning NHL goal champ Sidney Crosby now has his own line of clothing, although Reebok has made it very hard to get it in the states. According to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the new line is only available in three Canadian sports stores and isn't available online.

Crosby_2 I'm betting the stuff will be at the Reebok outlet at Sawgrass Mills by the end of the year. They have a lot of stuff in that store. Anyway, here's Sid with some of his new friends. Yeah, the kid has it made.

-- Since he's selling the team and says his owners box may have new occupants in the coming season, Predators owner Craig Leipold had bought season tickets for 2007-08 in the 300 level of the team's arena.

According to John Glennon's story in the Tennessean, the 303 section where Leipold has his seats is called 'The Cellblock' because of the rowdy nature of the fans there. This smells like a publicity stunt to me, but Leipold says he is going to sit there and cheer on the Preds.

"Cellblock 303 doesn't know what they are getting into with me in their section now,'' Leipold said "I'm going to work on some new chants for us to yell to the opposing teams. I can't wait.''

Here's the rest of the story: MUSIC CITY MANIAC

Speaking of Vegas....

Starsboard_2The Dallas Stars are taking advantage of the NBA referee scandal by poking a little fun at the situation.

According to the Dallas Morning News, this billboard is located near the American Airlines Center where the Stars play their games.

While the NBA may not like the sign, Mavericks owner -- and hockey fan -- Mark Cuban apparently loves it. Of course, Cuban has never been a fan of the zebras.

"I think it's hysterical," Cuban told the DMN. "Good for them. It's a fun ad."

Read the entire story here: GOING THROUGH THE BIG D AND DON'T MEAN DALLAS

Dscn0470_2 -- According to a report in the Globe&Mail, Hockey Night in Canada is branching out and preparing to offer a radio show, probably on Sirius Satellite Radio.

According to the report, CBC -- home of Hockey Night in Canada -- owns 40 percent of Sirius.

I like HNIC as much as anyone else (OK, probably more than your average American), but I'm not canceling my XM for Sirius anytime soon. That's no knock on Sirius, either. I'm just a big fan of my XM, that's all.

If you are a hockey fan and don't have satellite radio yet, you need to get on that horse. XM's Home Ice channel (204) is hockey all day, every day. Sometimes they get so bored they call on me to talk about the Panthers. Yesterday, we even delved into the Dolphins' offense. It was fun.

And, for the record, I don't get paid by XM, don't even get free or discounted service. I pay my own way.

-- The Pens unveiled designs for their new igloo, and the place looks pretty sweet (as expected). You can check all of that out here: POST-GAZETTE   


Marty Speaks

GelinasFormer Panther Martin Gelinas opens up to the Nashville Predators staff in a Q&A session on the team website. You can read the entire interview here: MARTY SAYS HELLO

Some of the highlights: He says he had an offer from Florida but in the end decided to go to Nashville for family reasons; says folks in Tennessee are much friendlier than those in South Florida (shocking); adds new neighbors brought over cookies. That didn't happen in Parkland apparently.

Speaking of Parkland, hearing Nathan Horton has moved to Panthertown, joining just about every other player in that city. Heard he and Jozef Stumpel are neighbors. I hope Jozef baked some cookies to welcome Hortie into the hood.

-- Also, word out of Music City is that Marty is going to see a more pronounced role with the Preds after Steve Sullivan had a second back surgery recently. Sullivan is out for the start of the season. The Preds hope Sullivan will be back on the ice in December.

-- Also, Dave Joseph has a nice read up on the Panthers' website talking with Joe Nieuwendyk and how this summer has been so much different than those in the past. Among the highlights: Joe still plays hockey once a week; he's excited about the Florida youngsters and excited about working with JM. Read the rest RIGHT HERE

-- The Canucks finally came out and unveiled their new unis. Not exactly blown away here either. They keep their modern Orca-C on the chest but go back to their old-school lime green and blue color scheme that became so popular up there of late. Don't know what's up with having Vancouver on the front of the jerseys, but it's already growing on me, so I'll put this one in the like pile by default.

Luongo -- Keeping with the theme of former Panthers, Pavel Bure was in Russian court recently suing British Airways. Apparently, Bure -- the Russian Rocket -- was on a flight from Moscow to London but was told to get off the plane. The reason? The pilot thought he was a soccer hooligan!

Bure didn't think this was very funny (he may hate soccer for all I know) and sued the airline. Pavel was seeking 20 million rubles (about $800,000); a Russian judge awarded him only $2400. According to AP, Bure's lawyer is appealing the low judgment in seeking more money. Good luck there.

-- And even more former Panther news: Kiwi has found a home, and it isn't too far away. Joel Kwiatkowski, sent off to Pittsburgh at the trading deadline, has signed a one-year deal with the Thrashers. Kiwi is getting a two-way deal for $600,000 according to Craig Custance of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

August 28, 2007

Go Panthers, Beat Navy!

WestpointAs expected, the Panthers are going to slip out of South Florida for a couple days prior to their season opener in New York City.

Florida plans to play its final exhibition game at Atlanta on Sept. 28, fly home that night, then practice at Incredible Ice on Sept. 30. Later that night, the team will pack up and fly to New York for three days of camp, practice and team building at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Spoke to JM about this a few weeks ago. He says it's important for the team -- which will finally be set by this time -- to gel and to go through some experiences together. Expect a few officers from the academy to stop by and speak to the players about commitment and honor. Unless, of course, they are fans of the Rangers. Then they'll probably just shoot the Panthers the bird as the bus drives by (kind of like Yankee fans loved to flip off the Marlins during the 2003 World Series. Or last week.)

The Panthers will practice in West Point on Oct. 1-3, then bus into the city for preparations for their season opener. Florida visits the Rangers at MSG on Oct. 4.

-- I don't think I'll wear the Navy Hockey t-shirt I picked up in Annapolis on this trip.

-- Speaking of that, hopefully the Panthers open in Washington next year so we can spend three days in Annapolis. What a cool town. Good food, good people, good sights. Check it out if you can.

-- Got an email from Ian Cropp of the Vail Daily yesterday telling me the Panthers might have trouble finding ice in Vail when they come for training camp. According to the team, however, they say they have things covered. The Colorado trip is still on as scheduled, and that's that.

-- Update: If you look below, you'll see my post about my dislike for the Tampa Bay Lightning's new jerseys. No, they haven't grown on me (for the record, Chris Gratton says he likes them.) I think the team lifted its new logo from a certain drink company that, I guess, hydrates alligators. Compare, my friends, and contrast.

Lightninglogo Gatorade_2

-- For those college hockey fans out there, the Lightning announced the lineup for their upcoming college tournament in December. The Ice Palace will host the second annual Lightning College Classic, a four-team tournament, on Dec. 29-30. The teams: Notre Dame, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (*), UMass and Colorado College. Last season, the Irish won the first ever Lighting College Hockey Classic with wins over Army and Air Force. Tampa Bay plays host to the Frozen Four in 2012.

(*) This from Panthers' college hockey guru Matt Sacco: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (known as RPI) is a great hockey school with a steep history that includes Adam Oates, former Tampa goalie Darren Puppa, and former Penguins coach Kevin Constantine. They also have one of the best hockey barns in the US in Troy, New York.

-- Didn't have a chance to post this yesterday, but FSN and the Panthers released the 2007-08 television schedule, and according to the team, if you -- the fan -- have the Center Ice package, there's only one Florida game that's not going to be aired.Nhlonfox_2

The Panthers say they have cleared the way for any game not televised by FSN to be allowed to clear the blackout standard and be broadcast on Center Ice. More simply: If FSN isn't showing a game against Carolina, but FSN South is, the Carolina feed will be allowed to be picked up by South Florida subscribers of Center Ice. That hasn't always been the case.

The lone game not televised: Nov. 13 at Atlanta. I plan on being there, so check On Frozen Pond for game updates. Or check out the new radio pairing of Randy Moller and Bill Lindsay. They should be like an old married couple by then.

August 27, 2007

International House of Hockey

IhopMaking lots of new friends from across the sea, special thanks to Swedish correspondents Tomas, Andreas, Johan and Thomas. Big hockey fans in Sweden, and they are very excited about their team signing a future Hall of Famer. Good for them.

Here is the translation of the Leksand team site from Tomas. Again, much love for taking the time to do this.Swedishflag

One of the greatest goalies in the history of hockey comes to Leksand!

He has won Stanley Cup.
He has won Olympic gold.
He has been named the best goalie in NHL.
He is a living sports legend.

Last season he played 58 games for Florida Panthers in NHL.

This autumn he will play for Leksands IF.

This season the Swedish hockey audience will get the opportunity to get to know one of sports greatest profiles of all time.

Eddie The Eagle has signed a contract with Leksand:”I see it as a big honor to play for such a classic club as Leksand,’’ said Belfour when we had a chance to talk to him.

There is probably a few American and Canadian hockey fans on the other side of the Atlantic that pinch their arm and wonder what will he do in the little village of "Switzerland" (a joke, a lot of Americans mix up Sweden and Switzerland). Ed has the answer: “It´s the possibilities, the adventure and the challenge,’’ he explains.

Friends have compared Leksand with Toronto. Classic organizations, long history, full of tradition and a lot of fans.

Leksands And that was the things that made him decide to take the step from NHL and go to a club on a totally different side of the hockey world, explains the well-qualified goalie.

He had a lot of offers to choose from. Russian clubs have tried to get his signature on a contract and there has been offers from NHL-clubs. But when he decided to play for Leksand it felt like he made the right decision, he explains.

“It´s the kind of atmosphere you find in Leksand, with great fans that love their team in both the good and the bad times, that I like the most.’’

Through the years Ed Belfour has played with many of the most well known players in the history of the game.
Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk, Eric Lindros, Chris Chelios, Olli Jokinen, Mats Sundin. Now he can add a few local heroes such as Houkko, Karlberg and Ollas to that list.

With Canadian blood in his veins, “it´s obvious that I like outdoor activities.’’ Fishing, skiing, hunting and driving snowmobiles is things he´s looking forward to doing between games. That he will move to a small village Ed just see as a good thing.Sweden4

”It´s my kind of living. The atmosphere gets more personal, you get closer to each other and traditions gets bigger importance.’’

Then he probably will have a few things he´ll have to do in the beginning of next year.

He will become a father for the second time of his life in December. Changing diapers will probably be added to his to do list.

But the goal for next season is clear to him. Bring back Leksand to the first division again.

Leksands GM Mikael Lundström can after a long negotiation finally introduce his latest and probably most important part of his team so far.

”This is of course one of our biggest investments for a step in the right direction towards our goal to get back to the Swedish Elite League again,’’ he says.

There´s no doubt that the expectations are high on Belfour.

Leksand2_2 ”We have signed a goalie that will bring stability to our defensive game and it´s a great feeling to be able to present this kind of signing to all our great fans and sponsors,’’ says Lundström.

Ed Belfour is clear to play from the 12th of October and will join the team at that date.

-- This from Johan: By the way, the swedish second tier league has some impressive names... Robert Petrovicky, Libor Procházka, Jani Hurme, Ed Belfour, Marcus Ragnarsson, Kenny Jönsson, Juha Lind, Calle Söderberg, Tomi Pettinen, Mikko Eloranta, Roman Vopat, Mikael Karlberg and Jan Huokko. The last two is more stars in Sweden, but still... All really great players. Most of them in Leksands IF or Malmö.

-- This from Tomas: I´m from a town called Falun a few miles from Leksand so Leksand is my favourite team. I´m also a big fan of NHL and I have been a Calgary Flames fan for many years. Now I live in Stockholm. 2004 I lived in Duluth, Minnesota for 6 month and I like visiting USA.

-- My take: One thing I didn't know was the Ed was expecting another child. So, congrats to him on that. And it sounds like he's making the best of this. There's no work out there in the NHL, so why not go to a place where he's really, really wanted and have fun. I'm sure this will be a neat experience for him, and he's going to be a rock star over there, for sure.

Thanks for the Memories

Belfour1Eddie the Eagle, we hardly knew ya.

I'm going to miss the long conversations we would hold in the locker room, especially the ones after the games. Going to miss your smile, your infectious laugh, your slap-on-the-back humor that always made everyone feel so good.

OK, can't say any of that is true. But oddly enough, I am going to miss Ed Belfour. I don't know why really, but I am.  Eddie was a different dude, but he did his job here in Florida last season, and for the most part, did it well. I don't think I've ever seen an athlete dedicate himself to preparing for the game as much as Eddie did, both mentally and especially physically. Does Eddie have some problems? Sure, who doesn't. He was fun to have around though.

And now he's off to Europe.

It's confirmed now, Belfour has signed with the Swedish team Leksand, a former first-tier team in the Swedish Elite League that has fallen on bad times. The hope there is that Eddie will come in and help lead this team back into the top tier. Leksand, you see, was reclassified and sent to the second tier, something Major League baseball should look into. I would love to see the Devil Rays and Marlins switched out for Albuquerque and Durham next season.

Anyway, back to Eddie.

Will have more on this when I get some translation, but if you speak -- OK, just read -- Swedish, here's the link to the Leksand official site. If anyone wants to translate for me, you would be my friend for life. Or at least until Thursday. Just email me at grichards@miamiherald.com

Here's the link to the Belfour signing: EDDIE FLIES TO EUROPE

Speaking of Eddie and the Panthers, our pal Ian Cropp of the Vail Daily News writes about the Panthers working out in Vail with Andy O'Brien. Eddie is among them, and Eddie tells Ian that he's excited about going to Europe. The story mainly deals with Stephen and Bryan Allen working out, but it's pretty interesting. Read about it here: VAIL AINT JUST FOR SKIING ANYMORE



August 25, 2007

No Respect for Panthers

RodneySo, Panther fan, feeling good about your squad heading into the season? Feeling there's no way the Panthers will be left out of the postseason again this year?

Apparently, there are a few folks who disagree with you pal.

According to things I've found online, the Panthers neither have a player listed in The Hockey News' Top 50 players (sorry Olli, Tomas). And, THN and McKeens don't think, at least right now, that Florida is a playoff team.

THN has the Panthers 12th in the East this coming season, finishing above Montreal, the Islanders and Boston, but just below powerhouses Toronto, Washington and Philadelphia. McKeens also has the Panthers on the outside looking in, placing them 11th in the East.

So what does this all mean? Should JM blow up the roster again and start over?

Come on. It's a few meaningless preseason predictions. I don't know if Florida will be in the playoffs next year, no one does. They seem to be going in the right direction, but we'll see what happens.

Again, the Panthers have to win before people will respect them. It's that simple. Show me, and I'll believe in you. That's the way it is.

PS: Roberto Luongo is third (up from 25th) in the TSN Top 50.

New (Bad) Look for Bolts

BoltslogoThe Tampa Bay Lightning decided if they were going to get new uniforms thanks to the Reebok redesign, they might as well tweak their logo as well.

Talk about making things worse.

The Lightning celebrate their 15 years in the league with a new look (not digging the white/blue bolt) and new unis. The new bolt can be seen at left. The new uniforms are here:

Newlooklightning Tampaunis_2
OK kids, your thoughts?

I'm not a fan to be honest. I do like that Tampa got rid of the two fonts on their jersey (Tampa Bay in cursive at top, Lightning in all caps at bottom) but that lightning bolt is weak. Ugh. It looks like its coming out of the sky sideways, like its drunk or something.

UPDATE: I think the team stole their new logo from here Gatorade

I also don't like the font of the lettering. Don't know why. Reminds me of the D-Rays or something.  And that's never good. The whole deal just looks minor leagueish. If that's a word anyway.

Anyway, I only have to see this stuff eight times this year. And since I'm not the one shelling out the big bucks to buy any of it, so I'm betting Dougie Mac and the rest of the Bolts Brass could care less what I  think. Feel free to leave your comments....

-- As it stands, here is my take on the new looks so far.

Like it: Bruins, Panthers, Caps, Sharks, Sens.

Little Change: Rangers, Blue Jackets.

Yuck: Preds, Lightning.

You've Got Questions?

RiddlerAs the offseason winds to a close and another hockey season appears on the horizon, figured I would offer up some tips to how to further your enjoyment of The Miami Herald's hockey coverage.

Sure, On Frozen Pond is pretty much all you need during the season. News, stats, jokes, bad photos. They're all right here. But, you, the intense hockey fan probably needs more.

You have questions, I sometimes have answers.

One of the most popular ways to get a hold of me is to call me on my cellphone. But, since I don't answer it, you might want to try something different. Like emailing me at grichards@miamiherald.com. You can also ask me questions -- ones that get published online -- at our Herald Q&A forum. You can access that right here: ASK G ANYTHING; ALMOST ANYTHING

I'm also going to periodically take my best emails and put them in a mailbag file.

Like this:

From Johan: You posted on your blog that if things went right you would like Vegas to be the permanent home for the Stanley Cup Finals? Or did I misunderstand? I can not see how such a well informed sports person such as yourself can think this would be in the best interest of the NHL or any other sport for that matter. Please explain yourself.

From George: zzzzzzzz.....


See how much fun this can be?
 

The Great Outdoors

CandyNothing I like better than spending my New Year's Day docked out in front of a grill behind some football stadium getting ready for a bowl game.

It could be an Orange Bowl game, perhaps a Sugar Bowl. Rose? Awesome. Fiesta? I'm liking it. I've even chilled in Jacksonville at the Gator Bowl on one particular New Year's Day.

This year, it looks like hockey fans get to experience the fun.

According to out buddy Tim Graham in the Buffalo News, the Bills' Ralph Wilson Stadium is going to be transformed into a hockey rink for a Jan. 1 game pitting the hometown Bills, er, Sabres against the visiting Penguins

Guess they don't think much of the Bills' playoff chances this year, eh?

According to Tim, who reported this story in today's editions, the game is to be played at 1 p.m. and broadcast on NBC. Says Tim: "Over the past 35 years, the average high temperature in Buffalo has been 38.3 degrees on New Year’s Day. In the past eight years, however, the temperature has reached 50 degrees three times, including a high of 52 this year."

Outdoorhockey_2 The last time an NHL game was played outside was in Nov. 2003 when Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium played host to 57,000 fans braving -2 (f) temps to see their beloved Oilers play Montreal. It was the first outdoor game in league history, and it was a smash success.

Don't know if I'm going to get a chance to cover this game in Buffalo, but I just might. I would be flying to New Jersey that day anyway. Maybe the Herald will send me up a day early so I can experience a Buffalo bowl game cookout.

I'm already fired up.

August 23, 2007

Weiss Gets His: Six Years

Weiss The Panthers locked up another of their young stars Thursday, signing center Stephen Weiss to a six-year deal worth close to $19 million.

The Panthers have now locked in Weiss, Horton, captain Olli Jokinen, Bryan Allen, Mike Van Ryn and Ruslan Salei. Goalie Tomas Vokoun, acquired this past summer, also has four years remaining on his current contract.

Weiss, Horton and Allen were all signed to their long-term contracts (Allen signed for five years) this summer.

"This really shows a commitment from the organization as we are coming forward," coach and general manager Jacques Martin said. "This shows ownership is looking at the big picture and putting a team on the ice that is competitive and at an elite level. That's why we've made a commitment to these key players this summer."

More, obviously, in tomorrow's Miami Herald. Just wrote this quick for online.

Here are some quotes for you all to nosh on.

QUOTES

Jacques on Weiss’ signing:

“It takes time to come to an agreement both side are happy with. Stephen Weiss is a core player in our organization. We wanted to get him signed to a long-term deal. It’s good to have some stability and good to have the key blocks.’’

JM Importance of signing Weiss:

“It’s really important. It shows a commitment from the organization coming forward. Shows our ownership is looking at the big picture and putting a team on the ice that’s competitive and at an elite level. That’s why we’ve made a commitment to key players this summer.’’

JM Time it took to get the deal done:

“It came gradual but is something we worked on for almost two months. We had a meeting with his agent prior to the draft. It was a slow process, but both sides are excited about coming to an agreement.’’

“There’s no doubt Stephen wants to be a Panther. He loves it here. And he’s a guy the fans can identify with, like Nathan. We’re looking for big expectations from those players.’’

JM Expectations come with the money:

“Our expectations with Stephen are going to rise. The organization made the commitment to him now, so the expectations have to be raised. We expect him to be a major contributor.’’

JM The team:

“This year, look at the people we’ve signed. There’s higher expectations. Look at the organization, look at ownership. We’re making a commitment to these players. We need to be better, we need to make the playoffs. It’s not just one player, we have to be a better hockey team. Signing these players long term shows a commitment.’’

JM What Stephen needs to improve on:

“He’s been a disher in the past. I think he needs to shoot more. He’s a good playmaker.’’

JM On Noah Welch’s status:

“There’s no update. There’s not much, it’s a matter of time to get him to sign. There are no other options for him, so I’ve talked to his agent. I’m confident it will get done.’’

Nathan Horton

 On Weiss signing:

“It’s definitely exciting. I was signed already, so I’m pretty happy. To see this is great. It all starts this year. We’ve had a great summer. The people want to be here and we want to win.’’

“It’s exciting for the players and for the fans. It’s nice to be here. Everyone knows Weiss is a great player, and he’s going to be here for a long time. I’m glad it’s done. I’m very happy for him, and everyone around the organization is happy. He’s a great player who is only going to get better.’’

Horton on the new attitude in the organization:

“We have a great coach and everyone in the organization wants to win, wants to get better. It’s going to be different. We’re going to be a different organization.’’

August 22, 2007

Vegas Baby, Vegas

SwingersOh man, let us hope this happens.

And let us hope the Las Vegas Flying Elvises get put in the Southeast Division with the Panthers so there's four trips a year to the desert.

The big news out west is the good folks at Harrah's Entertainment are teaming up with AEG to build a 20,000 seat arena in Las Vegas with the hopes of luring an NHL (YES!) and/or NBA franchise to the City Beautiful.

The arena is set to be built behind Bally's and Paris (the casino, not the Hilton), and is set to be done by 2010. That means the arena will be right off the strip. Don't know if anything could be sweeter than this.

"This arena is being developed with the capability of hosting an NHL or NBA franchise from day one," Timothy Leiweke, the president and chief executive of AEG, said in a statement. "We continue to have productive conversations with potential owners and are optimistic that either basketball or hockey, or both, will be played in Las Vegas when the venue opens," he said in a statement.

AEG (which stands for Anschutz Entertainment Group) not only runs the Staples Center in L.A., but it is the management company for the new Kansas City arena famous for trying to lure the Penguins west.

Right now, you have two U.S. cities that want an NHL team in Kansas City and Vegas. You also have a handful of Canadian cities that could support a team if the setting is right.

Luckily for Gary Bettman and the league, G has a solution for all the problems.

My thought: The league wisely expands by two; put one of the expansion teams in the East and send them to Canada (I think a Canadian market will support a cruddy expansion team a lot better than a midsized U.S. market.)

If the Predators aren't supported in Nashville, Boots Del Biaggio will be taking them to Kansas City. The other expansion team heads to Vegas. And, if this league is smart, they will be called the Flying Elvises (Nevada Chapter).

By splitting the two expansion teams, you would have 16 teams in each conference. It only sounds fair to me. And, it only makes sense.

What happens if Nashville stays in, you know, Nashville? Sorry Canada, there goes your expansion team. Good luck going after the Preds in the future, or another team . Elvisvegas

The NHL needs to be in Vegas in the worst way, and they need to be the first major pro league to take the Strip by storm. Imagine the fun an NHL franchise would bring to Vegas, and imagine the fun it would bring to the NHL writers.

I'm already looking forward to Vegas being named the permanent home of the All-Star Game, and if things go right, the Stanley Cup Finals as well.

No one in America really bets on hockey anyway, so Vegas having legalized gambling isn't a big deal in this case (that's another story in the NBA. Especially now. You can't have NBA refs being able to go downstairs into their hotel's casino and dropping dimes on games. That's not cool. So, if the NBA comes to Vegas, the betting on NBA games disappears. And truthfully, the NHL would ask for that as well. Vegas would have no problem dropping NHL betting.)

-- Quick question: Where do I stay for the first game between the Panthers and Flying Elvises come fall of 2010? I'm thinking about returning to my haunts at the MGM Grand, perhaps Caesers. Hear good things about the Venetian, but don't think Ma Herald is going to pick up that tab. They would like me to do something downtown or at least Circus Circus, but that ain't happening.

-- Another plus for an NHL team in Vegas: In N Out Burger.

Two Together

ScalperAll right party people; Those of you who haven't secured your season tickets for the 2006-07 season, Saturday is your day.

That's right, Panthers' single game tickets go on sale.

Please try and temper your enthusiasm.

Anyway, tickets to all 41 home games go on sale. That means you can get tickets to Opening Night against the Devils, the returns of Roberto Luongo and Mike Keenan, any of four matchups with the Thrash, Bolts, Canes or Caps, etc.

Tickets go on sale at Ticketmaster.com, but if your smart and want to avoid paying those outrageous fees, purchase your tickets at the box office.

-- Been getting a lot of emails and questions about my thoughts on the Canes leaving the Orange Bowl. Most know I love the OB, would go there for soccer games if I had to get my OB fix. That said, I'm going to let this topic slide for a little bit. Will talk about my real thoughts on this at another time, probably around the time Miami plays its last game at the corner of 15th Avenue and Third Street -- OK, not as romantic as Clark and Addison (Wrigley) or even Michigan and Trumbull (Tiger Stadium).

Orangebowllogo That said, here's my quick take: This was bound to happen. The city hasn't done anything for the old stadium in a really long time and Miami needs to do what's best for the program. Doesn't mean I'm not sad at the news. There's nothing like watching a game in the Orange Bowl. At least we have a few more magical afternoons and evenings left in the old girl. Hopefully I'll get to see a few of them between some hockey games.

August 20, 2007

New Voice on Radio

LindseyThe Panthers went back to their past Monday, securing former forward Bill Lindsay to be their new radio analyst according to former radio voice Steve Goldstein.

With Randy Moller sliding over from analyst to play-by-play, it was expected that the Panthers were looking to bring in a former player. Lindsay has been playing in Germany, but has turned his attention toward becoming a broadcaster -- including taking classes and a broadcasting camp.

A key part of Florida's 1996 Stanley Cup finalist team, expect he and Moller to have instant chemistry. Will the broadcast be clean? Perhaps not at the beginning, not with Moller learning a new role and Lindsay making his first dip into professional broadcasting.

We shall see.

If Lindsay throws a rubber rat onto the ice from the broadcast booth, however, the listener is going to be in trouble. Goldstein, for one, doesn't think Lindsay is going to be Mr. Homer and thinks he'll be good for the Panthers both on the airwaves and around the team. Lindsay's incredible goal against Boston in the first round of the 1996 playoffs helped the Panthers beat the Bruins and move on.

Lindsay, 36, was an original Panther and teammate of Moller during the 1993-94 season. Lindsay spent six seasons with the Panthers, scoring 63 goals with 81 assists from 1993-99.

"I like him,'' Goldstein said. "I think he's going to do a good job.''

Lindsay started his career during the 1991-92 season with Quebec; his final NHL season came in 2003-04 with Atlanta although he kept plugging away. Since leaving the Thrashers, Lindsay played for Long Beach of the ECHL as well as Syracuse of the AHL and spent the past two seasons in Germany.

August 18, 2007

Former Cats for $500, Alex

CatstevensNews is sure slow in the summer, but I have some stuff for you on former Panthers that I think some will be interested.

-- Goalie Ed Belfour (2006-07) is apparently tired of looking for work in a tough market and is headed overseas. There's a report out of Sweden saying Eddie's headed there.

According to the Swedish newspaper Sport-Exspressen, it appears likely that Belfour is going to sign a one-year deal with Leksand. That team plays in Sweden's second-tier league.

Don't know whether Eddie has an out clause to come back to the states if a job opens up in the NHL, but I would bet that's the case.

-- Serge Payer (2000-01, 2005-06) had shoulder surgery last year, cutting short his season with Ottawa's AHL affiliate in Binghamton. Earlier this morning I got an email from Serge saying he has signed with Minnesota.

-- Goalie Jamie McLennan (2005-06) couldn't find an NHL contract for this upcoming season, so Noodles is off to Russia. Call it Penne a la Vodka. McLennan has signed with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Super League.

Here's the Noodles I remember: NOODLES AND LOUIE

-- And finally, congrats to John Vanbiesbrouck (1993-98) who is to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame later this year. Beezer, who led the Panthers to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, will join former NHL standouts Aaron Broten and Bobby Carpenter as well as former Michigan Tech coach John MacInnes in this year's class. The induction ceremony will be Oct. 12 in Grand Forks, N.D.

Vanbiesbrouck is the all-time winningest American-born goalkeeper and played 20 seasons in the NHL.

August 15, 2007

Must See TV? Not Florida

HomertvAs expected, the Panthers aren't going to be one of the more televised teams in the NHL. In fact, they're the bare minimum.

The Panthers aren't scheduled to be involved in any of NBC's national telecasts this season, and they are only going to be on Versus once (Nov. 12 vs. Caroliner).

By the way, each team -- by federal law! -- has to be televised by the Versus folks once. As in the past, Versus likes getting the Panthers out of the way. Last year's game came on Oct. 31 against San Jose.

August 13, 2007

Desert Auld

AuldAlex Auld finally got some good news lately as the Phoenix Coyotes offered him a one-year contract. The deal was announced on Monday.

This may not be a great deal for Alex, but more of a 'best thing at this time' kind of deal. He's the third goalie under contract with the Desert Dogs and he might have to go through the AHL to get back to the bigs.

There's no reason, however, to think he isn't better than the other two guys. I think if he plays the way he can, he'll find the playing time. He's not going up against Roberto Luongo or anything like that.

Speaking of Luongo, I don't think his situation in Florida was handled right, not that there's anyone to blame. When the Panthers signed Ed Belfour, it was with the intention that Ed was going to fight to be a starter. He did just that. When Alex struggled, there was a Hall of Famer sitting there ready to pounce. And pounce Eddie did.

Belfour ended up becoming Florida's starting goalie, and Auld kind of drifted into the good night. He had a knee injury that cost him the last couple months of the season, and he had expressed a major desire to come back to the Panthers and prove he could be the go-to guy the Panthers thought he could be last summer. But once Florida traded for Tomas Vokoun, all Florida was looking for was an inexpensive backup. Auld and Belfour were out of the mix.

With Auld taking the Phoenix gig, there aren't many openings in the league left. It had been bandied about that the Coyotes were interested in Belfour, but with Auld there, one would think those days are over. That means Eddie's looking for a job in a market that's as tight as one could be.

Don't know the specifics of Auld's deal, but I'm guessing it's a two-way deal which means he could start the season in the AHL. Phoenix has a supposed starter in David Aebischer (Colorado, Montreal), although he wasn't very good last year with the Habs. Mikael Tellqvist is also under contract, although he's never been more than a backup at the NHL level.

A New Kitchen

KitchenThe Panthers got a new Kitchen on Monday, and they didn't even go to the Home Depot for a remodel.

Mike Kitchen has officially been hired by the team to be an assistant coach. The former head coach of the Blues had a productive NHL career as a defenseman and will work on that side of the ice.

Kitchen replaces George Kingston. Will have more as the day goes on, although Dolphins training camp takes precedence today.

-- Hearing the Panthers are going to extend training camp by going to West Point, N.Y., for a few days before the season opener in New York. Nothing is official yet, but JM is said to be intrigued by the team building the team can do at the home of the U.S. Military Academy. Other teams have practiced there and seem to like it.

We'll see.

-- Speaking of the Dolphins, here's a Miami blog item: Offensive lineman Vernon Carey was back at practice Monday after leaving Saturday's game with what turned out to be a very minor injury to his right knee.

August 08, 2007

Off to Europe

Pigpoke Quite a few players who spent time with the Panthers last year are finding NHL money hard to come by so they're moving on to Europe.

At least three former Panthers are expected to play across the pond this coming season, the latest coming to my attention being Greg Jacina. Cut loose by the Panthers earlier this summer, Jacina has signed with Lukko Rauma of the Finnish league. He signed over there last month, and unless he finds a better deal over here pronto, will be asking Olli Jokinen for some advice on dealing with Finnish winters.

The other two players likely to play in Europe next season are Janis Sprukts and Juraj Kolnik. Hearing rumors that Alex Auld may try signing in Europe yet, but that is completely unconfirmed.

-- The press area at Dolphins training camp is decidedly much warmer than the one at Panthers camp in Colorado. That Eagle rink may be the coldest in the country. Not even kidding.

August 07, 2007

Friendly Rivals

Mac2 Don't expect to see Doug MacLean wearing Panthers gear anytime soon.

He's just become one of Florida's principal rivals.

MacLean, who coached the Panthers to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, is part of a group buying the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts have confirmed the deal, and a presser will be held at the Ice Palace today at 11.

The Lightning are owned by Palace Sports and Entertainment, also the parent group of the Detroit Pistons. It'll be interesting to see what the new ownership group -- it still has to be approved -- has in store for the Bolts.

MacLean's group is called Absolute Hockey Enterprises. The main investors: Coral Springs real estate developer Jeff Sherrin and movie/TV producer Oren Koules (Saw, Two and a Half Men, the Dumb and Dumber sequel).

According to the little bit I'm getting out of Tampa, MacLean says there is no way the team is going anywhere and that all three main investors are moving to the Tampa area. Also, according to the Tampa Trib, John Tortorella has two years left on his deal and GM Jay Feaster has four. MacLean says he wants to keep things status quo, at least for now. No word on what their payroll will be, nor how much the franchise went for.

-- Questions not answered: Will Charlie Sheen drop the puck on Opening Night? And if he does, will he wear his Rick 'Wild Thing' Vaughn horn rims? Rickyvaughn_2