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.
-- 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.
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.