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The Dude Abides

DudeAnd The Puck Divides.

Or The Puck Unites.

Something like that.

Anyway, fresh off another trip to Ohio and figure I would drop some news on you. Speaking with JM later today (that would be Panthers coach/general manager Jacques Martin for those who may have forgotten) about various things.

But this is what I know right now:

-- Steve Montador has been awarded $800,000 for the 2007-08 season. The Panthers have accepted as per NHL rules. JM says the arbitration hearing was civil and the team "is happy" everything is over.

-- JM says the Stephen Weiss negotiations get back underway today, and says they are not as far apart as his agent has been quoted as saying. JM says the Nate Horton deal took six weeks to get done, and isn't worried that this one won't get done.

-- Juraj Kolnik, let go by the Panthers earlier this summer, has signed a contract in Europe. Kolnik, who has been with the Panthers since 2002-03, agreed to terms with HC Geneva-Servette in Switzerland. Hope Koko likes the cocoa; Swiss chocolate is apparently pretty good.

-- As reported earlier, Janis Sprukts' agent is asking for a one-way deal; the Panthers are not biting. Sprukts may play this season in Europe as well.

-- The Panthers are close to hiring former Blues coach Mike Kitchen to coach the defenseman, JM said. Kitchen is under contract to the Blues (they fired him in December) and the Panthers are working with the team to get the former NHL d-man in Sunrise. The Blues were 21-46-15 in 2005-06 under Kitchen and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1979. When Kitchen was fired, StL had lost seven straight and were an enemic 7-17-4.

Former Florida assistant Craig Ramsay was thought to be a frontrunner for the gig, although he signed with Boston. Rochester coach Randy Cunneyworth, another the Panthers showed interest in, will return to run the AHL team for an eighth straight season.

According to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Cunneyworth interviewed for the position but JM decided to go in another direction. There had been thought Cunneyworth might not be interested in becoming an assistant coach. Apparently he was cool with it.

"I'm disappointed I didn't get the job, but now I'll refocus on the job I did before," Cunneyworth told Kevin Oklobzija of the RD&C.  "Obviously I wouldn't have applied for the job if I wasn't excited to take on a new challenge. But this was a possibility I realized could happen."