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31 posts from November 2007

November 30, 2007

Eight was Enough

VanpattenYes, that's Dick Van Patten in the photo to the left. Goes right along with the theme -- and headline -- of this post.

So what does Dom DeLuise have to do with the NHL changing its scheduling format?

As some of you loyalists probably know: Absolutely nothing! But when searching for a Dick Van Patten photo to go with your 'Eight is Enough' headline and you come across a photo of said Mr. Van Patten and Sr. DeLuise (and you're an idiot like me), well, you run with it.

Or in this case, kind of walk with it.

That said, big night for the NHL. The GMs, as expected, voted to go back to the old way of scheduling. That means -- uh huh -- no more eight games against divisional foes.

The divisions will stay the same, but teams will only play six times a season -- three home, three away. Conference foes (say: Florida vs. Rangers) will go four times a year, same as usual.

Big difference is, teams will play each team in the opposite conference once -- one year at home, the other on the road. So, for the Panthers, that means if Florida plays host to Vancouver in 2007-08, that means the Cats are going to Vancouver the following season.

The other difference is, there will be three wild-card games. So that means the Cleveland Browns might make the playoffs this season.

-- Other big news out of the GM meetings is that the local ownership deal in Nashville went through. That means the Preds stay in Music City for at least the next three seasons. If it doesn't work after this, well, I guess it just doesn't work.

-- Good to see that Roberto Luongo fella is doing OK in Vancouver. Louie set the Vancouver record for most consecutive shutout minutes tonight just before he set the franchise record with three straight shutouts. Yep, the Fighting Luongos shut out the Columbus Explorers 2-0 tonight at GM Place.

Lukas Krajicek (remember him?) got Vancouver's second goal late in the second period and the Blue Jackets couldn't answer.

Chaos -- And anyone who doesn't like Dom DeLuise, well, isn't a person I want to know to be quite honest...


November 29, 2007

On Top of the World

TitanicIf you're a Boston sports fan, you're probably a front-runnin' phony.

Just kidding! But, you have to admit, it's been a pretty good run of late for the Boston teams. From the unbeaten Pats to the World Champion Sox to the rebuilt Celtics to the BC Eagles, he only team not winning in Boston seems to be Harvard.

And I don't think anyone even notices.

The Bruins, forgotten in Boston the past few years, are also back on their game, winning five of seven before invading Sunrise on Thursday.

Big weekend for the Beantowners too. The Celts visit Miami tomorrow night. And the Pats get a date with the Ravens, a team the Browns have beaten twice this year. Yeah, the beat goes on.

-- Craig Anderson in net tonight for the Panthers as expected.

-- Andy took a nasty shot from Zdeno Chara off his neck. Hit the ice, and stayed there for a few seconds. But, he's OK. Was even joking with trainer Curtis "Don't Call me Joey" Bell.

-- JM doesn't seem to like being asked about Cory Murphy, but says the team isn't hiding anything with the bruised shoulder. He seems flustered and doesn't like feeling powerless about his hockey team, but this Murphy injury is confounding. Murph the Surf has been out two weeks now, and JM says he doesn't have a clue when he's coming back.

When he's back, JM basically said, he's back.

-- Gotta like the spark Garth "Snow" Murray has shown. Two nights, two fights. Tonight he battles Jeremy "Fred" Reich.

-- Olesz in the box for tripping, AND...

BOSTON SCORES...CHARA ON THE POWER PLAY...SOX 1, MARLINS 0 MIDWAY THROUGH THE FIRST

-- Hopefully we'll see this at Joe Robbie after football season. The Giants have set up an ice rink at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and are letting the general public come in and skate around where Barry Bonds once tread.

He isn't the only one getting a new perspective on the field this holiday season. The Giants have installed a 60-foot by 120-foot rink atop the infield and opened it to the public. It's believed to be the first time a major league ballpark has doubled as a public ice rink. The Giants are charging adults $20 to skate, and kids get on the ice for $15.

Boitano The real reason for the rink, which will close Dec. 9, is to host the "What Would Brian Boitano Do?"  Skating Spectacular on Dec. 5.

END OF ONE IN SUNRISE: BOSTON 1, PANTHERS 0

-- FYI: Saturday's morning skate is once again open to the public. Practice starts at 10:30; Pantherland opens at 10, and fans have to go through the store to get to the lower bowl to watch practice.

BRUINS ADD ANOTHER ONE..GLEN METRO-RAIL-POLIT GETS LONG REBOUND AND PUSHED THROUGH...ONLY 39 SECS INTO SECOND, BOS 2, FLA 0

-- Panthers on power play;

AND PANTHERS SCORE...STEVE MONTADOR BURIES LONG WRISTER OFF FEED FROM SALEI...STILL EARLY IN SECOND....BOS 2, FLA 1

-- OK, everyone knows I love the Dancing Banana. But the Dancing Nose? Come on. Bush league,more so than usual. It's time to start toning things down again. The ads are outrageous. You want a crowd to get into the game? Quit showing crappy Lexus ads that are repeated over and over on local TV down here as it is. No other team in the league puts on an ad-filled production as this one. It just gets worse and worse.

-- Back to the game. Panthers have had a bunch of scoring chances, Zednik, Olli and Booth all with solid shots.

-- Panthers on the power play...

-- OK, were..Booth to the box for slashing...even for 58 seconds, Bos on PP for 1:02...

CHARA GETS ANOTHER...POWER PLAY GOAL FROM TOP OF THE SLOT...BOS 3, FLA 1....3:36 LEFT

--

November 28, 2007

Sad Day Here, Back Home

SeantaylorWASHINGTON -- People up here still don't seem to have accepted the death of Redskins' safety/budding star Sean Taylor, just like folks in South Florida haven't been able to come to grips with it either.

Taylor may have been a Miami guy, a local-boy-made-good, but he made good here. He was a very popular player on the most popular team in this region.

People are still paying their respects at the team's training facility outside of town, and there's talk of a ceremony at FedEx Field tonight. A report in the Washington Post suggests Clinton Portis -- a former Cane and good friend of Sean's -- will wear No. 21 this weekend. If Portis has requested this, the NFL needs to approve it. No question about it.

Expecting there to be a moment of silence at tonight's Capitals game. Will update things from up here as I hear them.

What a sucky week.

-- The Capitals did a real nice ceremony for Taylor, showing highlights of his days at Gulliver, UM and the Redskins before holding a moment of silence. Sure, this barn was empty, but there wasn't a single peep heard.

-- No real news from the Panthers today. It looks like Craig Anderson will play tomorrow, but that's no real news.

November 23, 2007

Friday Night Lights of the Big City

HsstadiumFriday nights in Broward County used to be reserved for high school football, and at this time of year, playoff football.

Some good games tonight, notably Northwestern and Columbus at the Orange Bowl and St. Thomas Aquinas and Dillard battling it out at Lockhart.

I would be rooting for Cooper City tonight, but the 'Pokes didn't make it in. I guess I'll watch some hockey tonight.

Panthers-Rangers coming up next at ON FROZEN POND....

-- Slight? On the scoreboard, next to the name New York Rangers: The Islanders logo. Of course, the Isles have the Rangers' number of late. Blueshirts have lost two games this month, both to the Fish Sticks.

-- Well it worked again. Fire your coach, get a win. Look at DC United. Caps fire Glen Hanlon on Thanksgiving, get a win on Black Friday. Wash battles back from three goal deficit to beat Flyers 4-3 as Nicklas Backstrom scores in overtime for the Bullets.

-- Hold that Piggie. How big of a mess is college football in now? With LSU losing, feel free to take a guess as to who plays for the national title. How about a West Virginia-Missouri tilt? WVU-Kansas? Good golly. At least people would watch Ohio State.

-- Panthers told us on Wednesday less than 2,000 tickets remained for tonight's game. I can see where they are: Sections 428, 429 and 430. Pick a row, any row. They're all empty.

-- In case you haven't noticed, the Grey Cup is Sunday in Toronto. Good game, Blue Bombers vs. Saskatchewan Riders. CFL commish came out today and says he expects an NFL team to end up in T.O. one of these days, and more and more, it's looking like it's going to be the Bills. I love Buffalo as much as a native Miamian can, but it's hard to ignore all that money sitting in Ontario.

-- Good crowd on hand, best since Opening Night. We'll find out how many are from NY soon.

-- About to get in on it...check in soon for the start of the first quarter...

-- You know what I meant...

Nightcourt -- Getting the backup goalie today...Steve "John" Valiquette in net for the Rangers...

-- Those empty sections I mentioned? Filling in. Not a bad crowd scene at the Ikea Parking Lot Arena at all.

-- For more on John Larroquette in net for the Rangers, check on John Dellapina's blog...the NY Daily News can be found here: NY ES OK W/ G

-- Panthers were on the power play; Now they are not...Nate with a couple good scoring chances..

-- Taking a timeout here, corporately sponsored of course..scoreless w/ 10:38 left in the first...

-- Heat haven't tipped off yet...

-- Shots: FLA 10, NYR 3; 6:20 left in first

-- Weiss and Booth both have big scoring chances...puck covered up...now 12-3 in shots....5:49

RANGERS SCORE...CHRIS DRURY GETS THE GOAL WITH 7.7 SECONDS LEFT IN THE FIRST...1-0 RANGERS...

END OF ONE, YUP, 1-0 RANGERS...

-- Heat lead Rockets by 1..

-- Getting ready to start the second....Rangers still leading 1-0

-- Panthers getting some outstanding play, no reward...they are absolutely hammering this guy...he's been outstanding...

-- Rangers now on PP...Cullimore takes penalty...

-- Panthers kill off penalty; 20 seconds later, Mezei gets one for interfeence...NY PP @ 8:26

-- Bob Emanuel checks in...Aquinas leads Dillard 27-12...guessing its halftime...

DAVID BOOTH IS ON FIRE FOR FLORIDA...SECOND YEAR WINGER GETS ANOTHER ONE, TIES IT UP @ 10:53 OF SECOND....FLA 1, JETS 1

-- Can't verify this, but feel safe in writing this as fact: The Panthers are the only team in the NHL -- nay, all of major professional sports, with a dancing banana in its employ.

-- And I love it...Peanut Butter Jelly Time indeed...

-- Panthers helped feed 200 families this Thanksgiving with food drive...If you helped, good for you...nice work...

-- Panthers will be on the PP when we come back..Rangers called for penalty w/ 2.4 left...

END OF TWO FROM BAC IN SUNRISE: FLORIDA 1, RANGERS 1

-- Panthers still leading shots 26-16...large crowd here getting a good game...

-- These Maroone ads seriously suck something fierce...nice cameo, Molls...

-- From the OB at half: Northwestern 28, C-Bus 7....

-- Goofball Francione out at Texas A-M....going to be interesting to see who they grab...Looks like Butch Davis is off the market, but you never know with him...Tommy Tuberville?

STEPHEN WEISS WITH THE POWER PLAY WRISTER...5 HOLE...PANTHERS 2, METS 1 @ 1:06 OF THIRD

-- Vokoun gets the assist, his second of the season..

-- Good news in Carolina: Erik Cole back in the lineup for the Raleigh Tar Heels tonight...been out since that scary collision with Tomas Vokoun a few weeks ago...

-- Zednik had a great opp, broke his stick...he was sad...

-- PAnthers back on the PP...8 minutes left...

-- Official attendance: 19,250...considered a sellout...

-- Rangers kill off the penalty without much trouble; Panthers get penalty on them...Ranger power play forthcoming..5:52 left...could have been a penalty shot...

-- Bryan Allen puts Panthers in bad spot by throwing puck into the stands on penalty kill...it's a delay..

-- 5 on 3 for NYR for whopping 1:07....5:00 left in regulation...I say regulation because, well, you know..

DRURY TIES IT W/3:49 LEFT...

-- Big flurry of activity, but no scoring...so...

GOING TO OVERTIME...2-2

Olli finds Monty...over...panthers win...not....goal wiped off, penalty on Zednik...2:30 left...

NOW A SHOOTOUT...

Ville, Horton stopped; Shanahan/Hossa too...going to No. 3

Stumpel: losses puck...he's now been stopped 3 times by this goalie...

Jagr blocked too....onto No.4

Olesz down glove save...Pruca stopped too...No. 5 anyone?

Olli 5-hole...Drury shoots, stopped, Panthers win...

Happy Black Friday to Ya!

Blackfriday_3 Good afternoon folks, just got back from Circuit City where I spent five hours camped out in front of the store only to get inside and find out they don't even sell the Atari 2600 anymore.

And I thought I was going to get a good deal on it too.

Mattel But all was not lost. I ended up with the new Commodore 64 computer; It hooks up right to your television set! I got it all hooked up and have been playing this new game called "Donkey Kong" all day. I also picked up this little hand-held football game. It's from Mattel. I'm bringing that to the game tonight.

-- Speaking of big gorillas, the Rangers are in town. The blueshirts are playing real good hockey right now, even if it wasn't the kind of hockey everyone thought they would be playing. Rangers have won nine of past 11 games this season -- both losses coming to the Islanders.

Good crowd at the morning skate today, fans who came to shop at the team store allowed to watch practice. About 300 people there today, leading to some smart comments from Olli Jokinen.

-- Anyone watching this Colorado-Nebraska game? Cornhuskers can do no right in the second half. Hard to believe it was only six years ago this team played Miami for the national title. Yes kids, Miami and Nebraska used to be pretty good at football.

-- Cory Murphy out again tonight, his bruised shoulder really, really slow to heal. JM doesn't even think he'll be ready to play Wednesday at Washington.

-- Expecting a big crowd today so you might want to get there early to avoid all the cars in the Ikea spillover lot.

-- Photo courtesy of my pal Joe Rimkus Jr., my pick as "Least Likely Miami Herald Photographer to Wake Up at the Crack of Dawn to Shoot a Picture at Best Buy.'' But it was a good pic. Hope he got something nice out of it.

November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Pink Slip

HanlonJust got back in town and got word that another Southeast Division coach has found the unemployment line.

Glen Hanlon, who I thought has done a pretty nice job with the Caps, didn't survive the team's rough start and was fired today. Actually, the Caps started off 3-0, fueling some pretty high -- and probably unattainable -- expectations.

Of course, the Caps haven't played well at all lately, and the small but vocal fanbase in D.C. made it clear they weren't happy. The 'Fire Hanlon' chants were loud Monday against the Panthers, although they went away as the Caps picked up their game in the third and almost tied things up after being down 4-1. No such luck Wednesday night as the Thrashers -- who at 0-6 fired Bob Hartley and have been on a tear ever since -- dropped and rolled the Caps by a 5-1 score.

So, fans in D.C. look at the newfound success in ATL and think they can get something similar. I seriously doubt it.

Happy Thanksgiving Glen; at least you can be thankful you don't have to deal with the mess that is the Capitals anymore.

Of course, this had to happen. The team has won just two of their 10 home games this season, and according to Tarik of the Washington Post, their 13 points through 21 games are the lowest in 26 years. Yeah, someone is going to lose their job after a start like that. Here's Tarik's gamer from last night. I can feel for some of those guys. They know they got their guy canned. HAPPY THANKSGIVING Y'ALL

Here's Tarik's blog if you want to keep up with the latest on the Caps. Says the assistants have been retained. WE'LL BE IN DC NEXT WEEK

-- Well, I'm shutting down the computer and heading to the Pines. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Enjoy the turkey and the football.

See you all tomorrow.

November 21, 2007

Turkey Night on WKRP

ThankscakeCOLUMBUS -- Greetings from Columbus, where Rivalry Week for the Columbus Blue Jackets rages on!

Seriously, in an effort to sell some tickets to tonight's game, the Jackets are stressing tonight's a rivalry game, in the same vein as Friday's clash against divisional rival Detroit.

How do they tie the two in? Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with former Florida turned Columbus employees Doug MacLean or Jeff Rimer (who sends his best). In one ad touting tonight's game, the word GATORS was scratched out and replaced with Panthers.

Why would people in Columbus, Ohio, dislike the Florida Gators?

-- GAME ON

-- Interesting pregame...pictures of Florida players were doctored with a Thanksgiving theme. Olli and Tomas were turkeys; JM was a pilgrim munching on some turkey.

-- Also, they are really big on Civil War stuff. They have a big cannon that blasts off before the game and after each Columbus score. Has to do with this place being a big supplier of Union threads during the War Between the States. Seriously.

-- The war's over man, Wormer dropped the big one...

-- CBUS on the power play; Ruslan Salei -- also a pilgrim -- in the bin for holding @ 1:56

YELLOW JACKETS SCORE; 3:13 INTO THE FIRST, IT'S A POWER PLAY GOAL FROM CURTIS GLENCROSS (WHICH SOUNDS LIKE A CITY IN GEORGIA)....GEORGIA TECH 1, PANTHERS 0

-- Glencross vs. Campbell; pretty crummy fight actually....

-- Trivia Time: Last time Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock played the Panthers, he was coach of the Flyers. And that was the last time he was coach of the Flyers.

-- FLA on the PP; David Vyborny in for holding a stick...

-- Salei back in the box; been there more than on the ice; CBUS power play w/ 9:40 left in first...

-- Panthers finally got second shot of the game with 4:10 left; Zednik just had a pretty good chance...Olesz throws puck at net; Campbell set up down low, tries chopping it through...they need more of that...2:10 left, four shots...

-- And there goes Monty...high sticking....18:01....

-- Panthers draw a penalty...will be on the power play when we return for the second period...With that-

END OF 1 AT GEICO ARENA IN COLUMBUS: BUCKEYES 1, FLORIDA 0

-- I hate to be that guy, but if you are going to have cans of regular Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew and offer diet versions of Pepsi and Dew, why can't you offer Diet DP as well? Why? Oh well, be home soon enough.

-- Hope ma bought some of that Publix Splenda ice tea for Thanksgiving tomorrow.. that's good stuff..

-- PS: Garth "Terry" Murray is wearing No. 17, a very popular number in the brief history of the Panthers. Others notables who have donned the 'Uno Seven': Jody Hull, Viktor Kozlov, Matt Cullen, and -- of course -- Dwayne Hay (pronounced Hay).

-- Speaking of Dwayne Hay, the first wave of All-Star votes have been released, and it doesn't look like any Florida player is getting voted in. Olli only fifth from bottom of forwards with 4,466 votes (Sidney leads with 94,118 but six others have 20K-plus). JayBo has a bunch of votes (23K-plus) but fourth from bottom; Vokoun (7,000) next to last in goalie voting.

-- Back to live action here in the second; Panthers on a power play...

-- What a great looking power play it is!

-- I was being sarcastic.

-- Really! It was a good looking power play!

-- Well, it turned out to be a pretty power play afterall...Cue up Bill Murphy....

PANTHERS GOAL; ON THE POWER PLAY; RUSLAN SALEI LONG SHOT DEFLECTED IN...FLORIDA 1, OHIO STATE 1

-- Garth "Anne" Murray in the box; Christopher Columbus on the power play...

-- Looking forward to my vegan Tofurkey tomorrow...

-- Hope the Panthers brass doesn't visit here...they have sponsor banners hanging from the rafters...it ain't Celine Dion, but it's bad. On the flip side, they do have updated NHL team logo banners hanging on the other side...

BRYAN ALLEN SWINGS A BIG SHOT, FIVE HOLE AND THROUGH...PANTHERS LEAD 2-1....7:43 LEFT IN SECOND..

-- Thanksgiving always reminds me of a classic episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. Remember the one where they drop turkeys from a helicopter? "As God as my witness, I thought they could fly!"

-- Panthers have another good scoring chance...alas, goes awry....

-- Yes, that is the second WKRP reference here this month...

-- It's not just the third period anymore: Jackets score with 1.7 seconds left on the clock...Rick Nash in front, pops home...

END OF TWO AT RICHFIELD COLISIEUM...PANTHERS 2, CLEVELAND RED BARONS 2

-- I am not making this up: They are having a Gator meat eating contest here during the second intermission. Hear it tastes like chicken.

-- Which is better than Tofurkey, I'm sure...

-- "It was nice to get that goal,'' Nash said. "We have to play better in the next period. The second was unacceptable.'' Bet JM is saying the same thing about that last CBUS rush...

-- It might snow here tomorrow morning...I'm dreaming, of a white Thanksgiving....

-- Montreal kicking it old school against the Island...4-0...

-- If that was the Panthers, Islanders come back with at least three in the third..

-- Speaking of that, getting ready to start the third here in CBUS...

-- Anyone out there ever fly Skybus? flying them tomorrow back to FLL and wondering what to expect...I was told to bring cash...

PANTHERS POWER PLAY GOAL; WEISS TO ROSTISLAV OLESZ @ 10:53 OF THIRD....FLA 3, CBUS 2

-- Panthers on PP again...Weiss gets boarded....8:52 left in Ohio's capital city -- I know everyone thought it was Ottawa...

-- Cleveland, of course, is Ohio's Holy City...

-- Some real nice passing on that power play, and ---

PANTHERS SCORE...JAY BOUWMEESTER TOP SHELF FROM OLLI AND ZED...PANTHERS LEAD 4-2 WITH 6:43 LEFT (GOAL CAME AT 13:01)

THIS MIGHT JUST DO IT....CAMPBELL SCORES WITH 5:51 LEFT OFF REBOUND FROM BOOTH...FLA 5, CBUS 2

-- Penalty upcoming on FLA...after lengthy delay, FLA finally stops it...Garth "Bryan" Murray into the box w/ 4:49 left...

YOUR FINAL FROM COLUMBUS: PANTHERS 5, BLUE JACKETS 2

-- Well, it's that time of night...Hope everyone enjoyed this special holiday edition of On Frozen Pond. So, for George Richards, I'm George Richards wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving and a fine evening. Again, your final from Columbus, Florida 5, Jackets 2.

Drive careful everyone.

House Divided?

Buckeyewolver COLUMBUS -- Lot of talk the last couple of days about division in the Florida locker room, about players being upset and feeling a little bit alienated because JM doesn't always communicate with his players about decisions.

Sometimes, JM goes through the media before he talks to a player, and he certainly is not the first coach/manager to do that. It may not be the right way to handle things, but it's been done that way before.

As far as a split in the room goes, I know the guys are frustrated with losing, and many are frustrated with what is perceived as a lack of trying to fix things from up top. JM addressed those concerns the other day, saying changes aren't coming from anywhere but inside the room.

The guys on this roster are going to have to turn things around themselves, there's no white knight coming in a trade, no magic pill that's going to make this team all of a sudden believe in itself and suddenly become more talented.

In this age of salary cap concerns, the Panthers and every other team in the league are handcuffed in what moves they can make. No longer can good money be thrown after a bit player to help out. When a regular gets hurt, there are few options: Pull up one of the kids from Rochester, or try and find someone somebody else doesn't want.

Case in point: Garth Murray, pulled off the waiver wire. As one team employee joked when he signed: "Where to I go get sized for the ring?"

Problem is, some players have that same mentality. When a minor league player or a fringe NHL player is brought in to fill, there's a thought that "here we go again" when the truth is, there's not much else that can be done.

JM got testy today when asked about the reported division in the room, telling us to name our sources. That, of course, is not going to happen. And it can't happen. But none of this is new. JM hasn't been a good communicator and I don't think he thinks he needs to be.

JM is an old-school guy in the thought he feels these guys should be able to motivate themselves from within, that they make enough money they should play with pride and be up for every game. Yet this is the real world. That always isn't the case.

Has Jacques lost the room? I don't think he has.

All this tension might be good, might bring the team closer together, might give them a stronger internal bond.

I have my doubts. This team needs to win on a consistent basis, and I'm not seeing that. No lead is safe with this team, no matter how bad their opponent is playing. It just seems like more of the same. Maybe they'll prove me wrong.

November 19, 2007

Capital Gains -- Updates and Live G-Nite

WashingtondcWASHINGTON -- Slow times here in the nation's capital, seems like a lot of people left early for Thanksgiving.

Should mean a huge crowd tonight at the Phone Booth.

Speaking of that, Verizon Center is celebrating its 10th birthday this season with signs throughout the arena and adjoining area. Happy days. Never really hung out in this part of DC before the arena was built, but talk is, this neighborhood has really grown up around the arena.

Which is cool. I like it down here; great food places, joints to hang out in. Kind of like Sawgrass Mills but with, I don't know, character. Good Chinese food too*.

(*) -- Being called out by Steve X because I didn't have Chinese for lunch today. Went to Fuddruckers instead. Missed that place since it left Broward County. And it was goooood....

-- The big news this morning is that Rostislav Olesz is back in the lineup. He was working today on a line with Campbell and Glass, although Glass came in way after everyone else today so I'm thinking he's the healthy scratch. Since Mezei only played five minutes and change the other night, he could be the odd man out too. Will update before kickoff.

-- Cory Murphy still hasn't practiced and is out again tonight. If he practices tomorrow, he could play Wednesday in C-Bus.

-- Spirits seemed to be up around the team today. Word is Alan Cohen's strong words regarding the Olli rumors have been highly regarded around the room. Lifted some spirits, to borrow someone else's words.

-- PSA Time: The Panthers' Wives and Girlfriends do a lot of good work for charity, and this is no different. The team is holding its toy drive and has teammate up with the Marines and Toys for Tots to do it.

Fans are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy and drop it off at the main concourse at the arena before home games from now (Nov. 23 is the next one) through Dec. 11. This is something that doesn't take much to do -- just swing by Target or Wal-Mart or something on the way to the game -- and it does mean a lot to the kids who don't get much on Christmas. I know anything dropped off is appreciated.

Also, the Panthers Foundation is going to have a mystery stick night Friday against the Rangers. Here''s the deal: They have 140 mini sticks for sale. Each stick is signed by a member of the team. There are five sticks signed in gold ink, and those sticks bring an additional prize. Last time they did this with pucks, the extra prizes were pretty cool. If I remember, authentic autographed sticks and jerseys were some of the prizes.

-- Think the Panthers have some upset fans? Been talking to a bunch of Caps fans and they seem to have about had it. People want to clean house.

-- Tanner Glass is indeed your healthy scratch tonight. So, look for Olesz to play with Soup and Steve Montador. Monty worked at D throughout this mornings practice.

-- Alexander Semin is back today, lifted off the DL just in time to play the Panthers. Brian Sutherby sent packing to Anaheim for a draft pick to make room on the Washington roster.

-- Sutherby is apparently pretty happy about the move west. Same kind of attitude Ric Jackman had last year. Hope your ring fits, Jacks...

-- The Caps start with a video of Pacino giving a speech from 'Any Given Sunday.' Said speech is from the Orange Bowl. Sad.

-- Keys to the game, courtesy of Fox Sports Florida. No. 1: Score. Good stuff. Have to remember that one.

-- Nice scoreboard here in DC. Sunrise Arena is really falling behind the times. I know the scoreboard was a big improvement over that joke at Miami Arena, but right now, it looks pretty dated.

-- Want to read up on your Capitals? Check out Tarik's blog at the Washington Post....TARIK'S A COOL DUDE ... And, yes, this is a thank you for Tarik linking to the popular On Frozen Pond, but I do check his stuff out quite a bit.

-- Speaking of dated, you got to see the TVs up here in the Washington press box...large, flat screens....hi-def....very nice...wish we had a set up like this in Sunrise (hint, hint)....

-- Panthers lead 1-0 on goal by Booth, then WSH ties it up shorthanded. Olli gets puck taken from him, Bo tries on d, but shot from Brooks Laich slips past Vokoun....we're 1-1

-- With Allen and Bo in the box, WSH gets 5/3 for 51 seconds...Panthers kill it off...

-- Kreps is a Capital Killer....picks up his second of the season against the Caps, Panthers lead 2-1 after he scores with 50.5 seconds left in the period...

-- So, AFTER ONE PERIOD AT CINGULAR CENTRE, FLA 2, CAPS 1

-- Interesting stat: Kamil Kreps has four career NHL goals. Two against the Bolts, two against the Caps

-- Going to Ohio tomorrow...looking forward to it, seeing some family, so doubt there will be anything here tomorrow...sorry...

-- Everyone realizes we are done with the Southeast Stretch after tonight, right?

-- Panthers had a real lazy power play, and now, Kreps in the box....Still 2-1....

-- Now at 4 on 4; if it stays like this, FLA gets a PP for :33...And of course, it doesn't...Olesz with the hook 38 seconds later...

-- OLLI SCORES OFF PUCK LEFT SITTING IN FRONT OF KOLZIG COURTESY OF ZEDNIK...FLA 3, WSH 1 W/ 5:44 LEFT IN THE SECOND...

-- The 'Fire Hanlon' chants have started up here in the nether reaches of the AT&T Arena...

END OF TWO AT USAIR ARENA IN LANDOVER, MD: FLORIDIANS 3, BULLETS 1

-- You aren't going to hear the Zamboni song here either; yep, the Caps use Olympias as well. Saw them last in Carolina.

-- Fakes.

OLLI 'TRADE BAIT' JOKINEN GETS HIS SECOND OF THE NIGHT...FLA UP THREE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN QUITE A WHILE....FLA 4, WSH 1 W/ 12:44 LEFT IN REGULATION...

-- FSN banner just said 'End of Third Period'...JM wishes...

WSH CUTS THE LEAD TO TWO; HERE WE GO AGAIN?....WSH 2, FLA 4....11:17 LEFT

-- FLA now outscored 31-16 in third period this season...

-- They just announced 13,000 as the attendance tonight...if there's anything over 9,000...

-- Bo in the box...WSH goes on the power play after this message....7:19 left...

OH BOY...CLARK SCORES ON PP, IT'S NOW A ONE GOAL LEAD....FLA 4, WSH 3 W/ 6:25 LEFT...

November 17, 2007

Olli Rumors

Olli

Here's what we have on the Olli Jokinen rumors:

I get a call Saturday afternoon, telling me Olli is upset because he's heard that JM is shopping him around to other teams. Also told the team is pretty upset about stuff (losing included) and there may be some sort of "revolt" Will talk more on that below.

I can't get confirmation on rumors during the afternoon, but obviously this rumor has legs.

JM and Alan Cohen hear about it in the afternoon; Olli's agent -- Mark Gandler -- hears about it and calls Olli. French-Canadian all-sports network RDS reports it sometime in the evening.

After tonight's Carolina-Florida game, we speak to all the folks involved -- except for the base (as far as I know) of where the rumor started.

Olli, who appeared to be in a pretty good mood to me this morning, says all is well. He spoke to management -- including Michael Yormark apparently -- and says he is happy with their explanation.

“I don’t know where they get this information,’’ Jokinen said. “As a player, to be quite honest, I’m used to this stuff. But it’s not what you want to hear. It’s not a good feeling to get a call like that from your agent.’’

JM tells us basically the same thing, says there is no truth to the rumor. At all. Says because the rumor came out of Canada "it must have been started in Canada by someone who wants him.'' Could this be another shot at Mike Keenan? Who knows. Canada's pretty big.

Alan Cohen chimes in, laughing at the report and telling Olli he basically has a no-trade clause in his contract because "I'm never trading him.''

Onto the other rumor about players not being happy.

This I believe, although I don't know about this whole revolt thing. I think guys are tired of losing, tired of coming up with the same excuses. But for the most part, they come out and give a good effort every night and are in every single game. Losing at the end of games the way this team does is troublesome and I think its bothering guys in a very profound way.

I think it's good JM squashed the Olli rumors, and it appears he did it the right way. He didn't wait for the rumors to blow up, he quickly went to Olli and defused them. Get it out in the open. This organization has done things in the shadows for a long time. It hasn't helped cultivate a winning attitude.
Like I wrote earlier, the Ollu rumors didn't make much sense. Olli's captain and face of this franchise -- for better or worse. Management is behind Olli. Just the other day, Michael Yormark told Olli this is his team; Alan Cohen told me he expects Olli to start carrying this team.

Rival GMs love planting stuff like this. It's very possible JM hasn't spoken to a single soul about Olli -- but someone planted this and it moved on.

I am interested in seeing the makeup of the locker room. I don't think JM has lost his voice in there, and the power he wields as GM adds to his weight as the coach. I don't believe he is going anywhere. This organization has been floating around rudderless for too long.

They have stability now and have to hope staying the course will help turn into victories. The Panthers organization has said all the right things about the way they want to turn things around, and have backed up talk by opening the checkbook. They need to stay the way they are going.

And the players, the ones who ultimately aren't getting the desired results on the ice, need to stick together and trudge through.

The team gets a day off in Washington DC on Sunday. I think this could be a good opportunity. Go out, have some fun, watch some football, blow off some steam (and take cabs). This is one up-tight team, and a little fun -- DC ain't Vegas but whatever -- could do them a world of good.

As one player I talked to today said "all this goes away when we start winning.''

And that's the truth, ruth.

-- Those who want to join in on the discussion, please do. Would love to hear from fans about this. A couple of comments from the previous post were deleted when I merged and rewrote the two posts. Sorry about that.

I welcome any and all comments on posts. The more the merrier, as long as we keep it clean.

Live from Raleigh, it's Saturday Night

MayberryRALEIGH -- Don't tell Otis, but the sale of alcohol is legal here in Wake County, with more than a few Raleigh hockey fans taking advantage of that.

Anyway, we're live and rolling...

-- Zed is in the box for hooking, 2:33 into the game...just another penalty in paradise...

-- Panthers kill off...also, Cam Ward -- surprisingly -- in net tonight...Grahame has much better numbers against the Panthers of late..

-- Panthers being outshot 8-3 right now (13:51 left) but have had a couple chances...

-- Rod Brind'Amour figures given away Wednesday here at RBC...get your tickets now...

-- Bryan Allen now in the box @ 9:41...

-- Carolina scores at 9:51....Its Brind'Amour....CAR 1, FLA 0..Cullen playing blocker

-- FLA on PP; Ladd heads to the box @ 10:23; CAR fans chanting DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!

-- Panthers getting some good looks, Nate goes off the post...Not the Washington Post...That comes Monday...Shots now 10-7...still 1-0 CAR with 4:06 left...

-- Never seen an arena with more meaningless banners than this one...NC State basketball really needs to get a grip...

-- Weiss has a great chance, on breakaway thanks to Zed chasing down puck...Ward makes save tho

END OF ONE IN RALEIGH -- CAR 1, FLA 0

-- About to start the second...you can feel the excitement...

-- 8:14 left in the second, still 1-0...

-- Canes kill off the Glen Wesley penalty...Panthers get nothing going...have nothing going...another subpar effort so far...

-- Horton, Booth, Weiss all have big opportunity...now Horton and Gleason going  at it...Horton drops gloves, gets in a punch,then bodyslammed to the ice...yes, bodyslammed....dropped like a bad habit...ouch...

-- Zednik good chance, but stick breaks on shot...Vokoun just made a couple really nice saves...

END OF TWO, NO CHANGE...CAR 1, FLA 0

-- Rod Brind'Amour scores again..original call was puck was kicked, replay says no...overruled in T.O. -- CAR 2, FLA 0 just 2:44 into the third...

-- Here's betting tomorrow's practice is not canceled...this is a pretty bad effort tonight...

-- David Booth takes errant puck to face while sitting on bench...he seems to be fine...

-- Cullen in box for delay of game, Horton cuts Florida's deficit to 1 by slipping one past Cam Ward @ 13:59...FLA 1, CAR 2

-- Brind'Amour in the box w/ 4:52 left...PP for the Panthers...

-- Going 5 on 3; Horton gets tripped up...Glen Wesley in...5/3 for 1:24...

-- Weiss has two shots at goal stopped, CAR clears both times...5/3 done...38 seconds of PP left

-- Booth blocked...4 secs left in PP....

A minute left, I'm packing up....if this is my last post, then you know what happened...

My Bad

Got some bad information last night. Tonight's game is not being carried in either market, making it a radio-only game.

Also makes it a live blog night, so good for you - the loyal reader.

November 16, 2007

Raleigh is Racin'

JimmyRALEIGH, N.C. -- I may be in Raleigh, but its hard to leave South Florida behind. All the talk around here surrounds this weekend's big race, you know, the one down in Homestead.

I've got my money on Jimmy Johnson. Been a fan since his Miami days. Good to see old Jimmer being successful in something other than football. Sure Joe Gibbs is jealous.

-- Some news out of the Panthers today; Stefan Meyer, scratched last night, is back to Rochester. Rostislav Olesz is traveling with the team to NC, and could be back tomorrow. I don't expect him back until Monday though.

Will be at tonight's Thrashers/Tar Heels game at Rbc, so come on back later, ya hear!

-- Beautiful day here in the Carolinas. Was here just two weeks ago, and it's hard to believe the difference in the foliage. Just an explosion of color; oranges, reds, yellows. Looks like AmericanAirlines Arena when there's no one in the building.

-- Speaking of that, I'm at RBC Center as we speak. Starting to fill in. A bit.

-- Carolina's Erik Cole still hasn't recovered from his hard-slam into Tomas Vokoun last Monday. Heels put him on IR, News-Observer says he's out seven to 10 days.

-- We're scoreless in Raleigh....Hedberg in net for ATL, Ward in net for CAR; figure on Grahame to face FLA tomorrow. K?

--  Hossa is a Hoss...Dude scores again....ATL 1, CAR 0

-- Free stat: Not only have the Panthers lost 13 straight here in Raleigh, they have been outscored 47-26...boo-yah...

-- ATL scores again....CAR struggling of late...last game was a 6-1 loss to Lightning...

-- Good couple of Family Guy episodes on. Yeah, we have our own little TVs up here in the RBC press box...

-- And now: Rocky III

-- Just kidding...watching Isles/Devils...scoreless in second there...Devils going on the power play...

-- Little frosty up here. According to weather.com, it's 37 degrees out there...that's Fahrenheit folks...

-- Caps/Bolts about to start....should be a good one...Lightning have won four straight...

-- Bolts up 1-0...still 2-0 here in Raleigh...9:30 left in the second...

-- FYI: Connected in Charlotte again today, marking the third time since Monday that I have been in that airport. Gave me another chance to read the Charlotte Observer.

-- Speaking of that, Charlotte Checkers are hosting your Everblades tonight. And it's Redneck Night! Free Checkers trucker hats to the first 1,500. Hope by buddy Stem got there in time.

-- I cannot make stuff like this up: Harris Teeter, the local supermarket chain up here, is selling Hurricane-branded wine. Called 10, to celebrate Carolina's 10 years in the league. Think it costs $10 too. Supposed to taste like sweat.

-- That I made up....

-- We're at the end of two here in Carolina; 2-0 Thrash

-- Also, tomorrow's game isn't on FSN Florida, but if you have Center Ice -- or know a friend/Quarterdeck that does -- it's on FSN South.

-- Funny story in today's Raleigh News-Observer. With Duke visiting South Bend this weekend, they pose the question as this: Is Duke the Notre Dame of the South, or is Notre Dame the Duke of the Midwest? Both are 1-9 so I guess it doesn't really matter.

-- Interesting fact about Raleigh: They don't use Zambonis here but Olympics painted up to look like John Deere tractors. Which is almost as cool as the Publix basket Zambonis Tampa had last year.

-- Empty net in Carolina....Heels had a big scoring chance down low...no go (that rhymed)....still 2-0 ATLs...Buck 18 left..

-- And that's that...Kovalchuk pots empty netter with 58.3 seconds left...ATL 3, CAR 0...Canes have lost two straight by combined 9-1...good luck tomorrow Panthers...I have a feeling this team is going to come out firing...

-- Oh, and John Grahame, whom I assume is in net, is 6-1 against Panthers past two seasons including 1-0 against them this season...

-- So, good night from the RDS Center in Raleigh....I'm going outside to freeze...temp has dropped to 31 degrees....it's officially below freezing...

-- Might need some of that $10 wine to put in the radiator to start my rental ride...

November 15, 2007

It All Makes Sense

RaymondRaymond, the goofy mascot of the Tampa Bay whatever-they-are-called-these Rays, attended Monday's Panthers/Hurricanes game in Sunrise.

Now we all know why.

According to the website theonion.com, the Rays have given up baseball and are taking up playing hockey. Hard to believe this wasn't posted somewhere else, but the Rays are now a minor league affiliate of the Panthers.

"These changes will make our team more marketable, triple our fan base, and finally, give us a realistic chance to win. I can't wait to get back on the ice!" outfielder turned goalie Ray Crawford said. According to the report, the Dolphins have turned to hockey as well.

Check out the 'report' here: SPECIAL THANKS TO DAVID J. FOR THE HEADS UP

-- Not much news out of Panthers. Bryan Allen in, Cory Murphy out. Got some other stuff, but it's so minor I already forgot.

-- Hey Dave: Panthers ranked 24th in most recent TSN poll. What you think of that?

November 14, 2007

Lost in Atlanta

About to leave Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Douglas Pepsi-Cola Airport, and have been getting plenty of nasty-sounding (worded) e-mails of late.

Why can't the Panthers win you ask? I don't have the answers. This team should have won Tuesday's game, and pkayed well enough to win Monday.

Yet they only got one point. What's a hockey fan to do? Honestly, relax. If the Panthers play like this on a nightly basis, they are going to be fine.

If they are still going like this in two weeks, well, we'll talk again.

Time for takeoff, good day.

November 13, 2007

Drinking in Hotlanta

Pepsihoff_2 ATLANTA -- There are a few things you find out pretty quickly when you get to Atlanta, Georgia.

No. 1: They love their football here (unless, of course, we're talking about the Falcons).

No. 2: Like the good folks in Germany, they love David Hasselhoff. And, yes, everyone drinks ice-cold Pepsi-Cola.

What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Honestly, nothing. I just couldn't think of anything else to lead off tonights LIVE BLOG!

Alright folks, kickoff is at 7, there's no television so it's just you, me, Randy and Billy over on 790 The Ticket. They're excited about broadcasting tonight, and I'm fairly excited about typing. Not as exciting as when I went searching for a Pepsi picture and found one with The Hoff in it, but pretty excited.

Now, onto the blog...

-- Update on Garth 'Brooks' Murray one post below...

Zedsick -- Richard Zednik not playing tonight. In fact, he isn't even in the state of Georgia. He might be back home, can't confirm. But he is sick, so he should be taking it easy. Lots of fluids and some chicken soup can't hurt. I like Gatorade Rain when I'm sick. And Pepsi products, of course.

-- The big news: Craig Anderson in net. Yes, it's true. JM said so. First game since he started in Toronto.

-- The food in the Atlanta media room isn't as good as it is in Raleigh, but the deserts just might be. On today's offering: Fresh carrot cake, German chocolate (for those Hoff fans) and the ever-decedent Red Velvet. Oh my...

-- The G.I. Joe Convention is not at my hotel this trip. Just some engineers. Kind of boring.

-- Kind of?

-- New feature -- Numbers With Jacques: No, this is not an discussion of the Old Testament. According to the Panthers coach and GM, Florida was even on power play chances and penalty kill through the first 15 games this season. In the past three games, Florida has been hit with 19 penalties; the opponents five. Says JM: "So, look at the results. Three losses. You can’t win games when you are in the box.''

And that's today's edition of "Numbers with Jacques." Tune in next time when Jacques talks about Cleo Lemon's quarterback rating.

-- You think we got water woes in Florida? They are in a serious drought up in these parts, and all the Pepsi in the world isn't going to help things. Well, it might. Anyway, Gov. Sonny 'Boilermaker' Perdue led a prayer service outside the state capital. Then everyone ate chicken. Just kidding about the chicken thing, although Perdue Chicken says they've never used too much water to raise their chickens.

"We've come together here simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm," Perdue said.

To try and conserve water, I will not shower while in Georgia. Unless it's in Pepsi.

LIVE FROM THE PRESS BOX AT THE OMNI IN ATLANTA....

-- Ten minutes to post, ten minutes...

-- Diez minutos!

-- There is no one here...maybe 1,500...

-- Just ran into Bryan Allen in the hallway. Says he wanted to play tonight. Said he's "definitely" back Thursday against the Washington Bullets.

-- Johan Hedberg in net for the Atlanta Flames tonight...Hedberg, Johan....

-- According to press sheet, Garth "Bryan" Murray will wear No. 57. The only other Panther to wear that number? Anthony Stewart. Yikes.

Game on friends, game on....

-- Anderson is being tested, just made a big save...

-- There are eight people in section 307 (looks like it holds 500 at least)...four of them are Panther fans

-- ATL on power play; Weiss in at 3:13 for goalie interference...got his skate stuck in the net to boot...

Spicoli -- Nice save Hamilton! I mean Anderson...

-- FLA kills off penalty

-- Horton with a nice scoring chance; shot it right into the mitt. Not Romney.

-- 12:47 left in first, still scoreless in Marietta...

-- Two big saves by Anderson. And I agree with Randy; these Atlanta home jerseys are awful. They actually spell out Atlanta on the sleeves. These are home unis. You don't have to tell the fans where the home team is from.

-- Usually.

-- ATL taking the game to the Cats; FLA outshot 11-3. Anderson playing well.

-- Heat leads host Bobcats 8-6 in the first...

-- Timeout on the court; 30 seconds...so, with 9:31 remaining in the first, still scoreless...

-- Weiss slapshot off the foot of Steve McCarthy...he limped to the bench...if he's out 4-6 weeks, Brett McLean will be happy. OK, he probably won't be.

-- PANTHERS SCORE...WEISS THROWS IT UP FROM BEHIND THE NET, PELTONEN BANGS IN...FLA 1, ATL 0 W/ 7:16 LEFT IN FIRST

END OF ONE AT GEORGIA DOME: FLORIDA 1, BULLDOGS 0

-- Sounds like a Springsteen line: The Chicken man was on the big screen last night, they burned down his house, too. Talking about conserving water, what's a Pepsi man to do?

-- Translation: Governor Perdue does a PSA on the JumboTron at Philips Arena asking people to conserve water. And the above is what came into my head (it's a take on Springsteen's classic 'Atlantic City'. Yeah, I got issues.)

-- OH! Speaking of Bruce, they come to Atlanta on Feb. 12. Tickets go on sale Saturday. Anyone got a hookup here?

LOOKS LIKE THRASHERS GOAL; ANDERSON HAD NO IDEA WHERE PUCK IS; THEY REVIEWED...GAVE IT TO TODD WHITE ... 31 SECONDS INTO SECOND -- ATL 1, FLA 1

-- D Cory Murphy not out here right now, saying some sort of shoulder injury. Not sure if he's coming back or not..

-- Still don't get this Blueland stuff. It's weak. Again, this town is home to the Thrashers, Falcons and Hawks. Birdland, I get. And, Birdland is one whale of a good song. Look it up...

-- Scoring update! There is no update. Still tied @ 1....13:53 left in the second...

-- Gonzaga leads Idaho 2-0 early goings...

-- Panthers on the power play...really? Been a while...

END OF SECOND FROM FULTON COUNTY STADIUM: FLA/ATL TIED UP AT 1...

-- Heat down 20 in Charlotte. Hope they got some water bottles for the effort...geez....Bobcats open with 18-3 run in third....

-- Back live in Dunwoody, Ga...

-- Panthers kill off Mezei's penalty...

-- 11:51 left in the third, still tied up at 1 apiece...

-- Here we go again...Salei in the box for a penalty...11:07 left...

-- MAKE IT 2-1 PANTHERS; DAVID BOOTH WITH A BOMB FROM THE LEFT CIRCLE...ASSIST FROM JAY BO...WITH 4:39 LEFT, FLA 2, ATL 1

-- Boxed Soup with 1:09 left; Campbell in the bin for tripping...Here we go again...

-- ATL calls timeout...

-- Yep, 2-2...ATL scores with 2.6 left...FLA couldn't clear, Thrashers bang it in...6-on-4 w/ empty net...Off of Bouwmeester...

-- Haven't we seen this before? It looks like they'll get at least a point out of this, but....

-- OVERTIME -- OVERTIME -- OVERTIME -- OVERTIME -- OVERTIME --

ITS OVER...Ilya Kovalchuk nets the game-winner 25 seconds into overtime...ATL 3, FLA 2

Drive careful folks....

 

Party on Wayne...[UPDATES in bold/italic]

Garth_2 ATLANTA -- The Panthers made a minor roster move today, picking up forward Garth Murray off waivers from Montreal. Murray, a role guy who has played in 100 games for Montreal and the Rangers, will replace Brett McLean.

According to JM, McLean is going to be out 4-6 weeks.

Murray, 25, is a former third round pick of the Rangers and made his debut with the Blueshirts in 2003-04.

Murray isn't going to be in the ATL for tonight's game, and may need some conditioning since he hasn't played much this year.

He broke his foot in a game against the Panthers earlier this year, and hasn't played since. The Habs assigned him to Hamilton of the AHL for a conditioning stint, and Florida snagged him on re-entry waivers. Montreal pays half of his salary this season.

Says JM: With the injury to McLean – who is out four to six weeks – we picked up a guy who is a role player, is gritty, brings some energy and can be a physical presence. It’s an opportunity because we didn’t have to give anything up. I just think he’s more ready to play at this level than some of our kids who have been playing at Rochester.

Don't expect McLean in for a bit. JM says there are immigration things to work out, so it could be a week -- maybe more -- before he gets cleared.

-- Speaking of updates, since tonight is a radio-only game (yes, even for those of you with Centre Ice), I will do a live blog. And I promise to keep going through the third period unless work calls (like it did last night, obviously)...

-- Also, according to the Hurricanes, Erik Cole was released from Cleveland Clinic last night and was able to fly home on the team charter. So, some good news there, obviously.

-- Was just in Charlotte. The Bobcats are giving away water bottles to fans at tonight's Heat game. So, if you're in the neighborhood, you might want to check out Shaq and the boys.

-- And congrats to C.C. Sabathia for winning the 2007 Cy Young Award. Heck of a season for the Tribe. Already looking forward to spring training.

We're No. 1, #$@!$*&!

MiamitafficWith apologies to the Miami Northwestern Bulls, this is one sorry time for South Florida sports.

So it's nice to be No. 1 in something.

Even if that top ranking comes in road rage.

According to a report by AAA (the car folks, not the Albuquerque Isotopes), Miami/Fort Lauderdale has the rudest drivers -- those who show like no courtesy at all -- in the entire U-S-of-A.

Riles That's something to be proud of folks, especially since it's a repeat victory. Hey Riles, how about a three-peat?

See, I enjoy my road rage. It's therapeutic. When I get stressed out, I just jump in the car and hit the highway. I like to turn up the music, roll down the windows and yell at people when they do stupid things.

Hey, we all need something to deal with the stress. Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun seems to like talking to the South Florida media. We have become his therapy. Ask one question (Tomas, how are you doing today?) and out comes the pain. I feel for him. These last minute losses are really starting to get to him.

Maybe he should take a ride. Like down the Turnpike extension toward FIU, or across the 836 toward Miami International.

Then those broken assignments and meltdowns in the Florida zone won't seem so bad.

A few shakes of the fist and pounding of the horn can feel good.

And, yup, we're No. 1 in something darn it!

November 12, 2007

Channel One

OlnpumpkinFor those of you in the know, tonight's game is being broadcast on the "Versus" network.

Came into the press box early tonight, heard one worker radio another "hey, what channel is Versus on?" Good question. Answer: It didn't matter. All the TVs were already tuned to the network.

Good to see the Versus folks here at the arena, and as usual, good timing. A Monday game against a Southeast Division team. Might be a good game, but definitely going to see some empty seats on the high-def broadcast.

Can hear it already: "Does anyone go to the games down there?" Yeah, just not on Monday's apparently. Someone close to the Panthers just told me they ought to close the upper deck and put everyone down low. And I've actually seen it worse.

-- Richard Zednik is out tonight, sick as a Cat can be.

Herb -- Tanner Glass to make his NHL debut, wearing No. 37. Last to wear that number, and wear it with pride: Trevor Kidd. And, oh yeah, Herbert Vasiljevs. Totally forgot about Herb. He was the man.

-- Jassen Cullimore, it should be known, is wearing No. 22. Dino Ciccarelli has called, asking the Panthers to freeze his number until they can retire it. They say it's under advisement.

-- I made that up.

-- Pretty good pregame show on Versus: Motocross highlights! I know I'm fired up for hockey after watching this.   

-- Cam Ward in net for the Tar Heels.

-- Now Versus is giving us marathon highlights....it keeps getting better and better!

-- This is the Panthers only national television appearance. Hope you all enjoy it....

-- Except in Canada. The Panthers are on national TV up there all the time.

-- Good job by the kids from the Blake School who sang the blog. Thought the kiddies sounded like they were from Great Britain. Close. Plantation.

-- OK, my bad Versus; this is a pretty entertaining game....

-- It's come to this: The Panthers had a plastic, inflatable, dancing banana at the game tonight. And it was pretty entertaining. Peanut Butter Jelly time? You bet!

-- Nice goal by Stumpel. I mean seriously. I've seen him put more on some of his passes. Still can't believe Cam let that one through. Anywho, it's 1-0 Panthers. The Herald says I'm going to have to do live blogs soon, so I have to keep them updated. And then I forget to put the score in. But, I did mention the inflatable dancing banana.

So, I ask you: Who isn't in the know?

-- UPDATE: Denis Potvin in the Versus booth....

-- And the Carolina Ale House ties it up at 1; Justin Williams from the slot...

END OF 1 AT THE IKEA PARKING LOT ARENA: FLA 1, CAR 1

Just had the Devil Rays -- oops, just Rays -- mascot out here. Those new unis are uglier in person.

END OF 2 AT TROPICANA FIELD SOUTH: FLA 1, CAR 1

Meyer Returns, Glass Up Too

The Panthers told us no decision would be made on who was to be called up Sunday, but that wasn't all-together true as Stefan Meyer was held out of Sunday's Rochester Americans game because he had bigger fish to fry.

Meyer is back up for another stint with the Panthers, filling in for the injured Brett McLean.

Would have had this news earlier, but was told by JM no decision had been made, he had to talk to Randy Cunneyworth after the game, yadda-yadda. Don't think it was a big deal for the Panthers to tell us their plans, unless they were trying to save some money or something. Which is probably the case.

-- The Panthers also called up Tanner Glass from Rochester, apparently to fill in for Richard Zednik who is sick. Meyer said today he wasn't going to be nervous, that time has passed. Says he's just going to play hockey and try and help the Panthers beat Carolina. For Glass, the butterflies are going to be out. If he plays tonight, it'll be his NHL debut.