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31 posts from November 2007

November 09, 2007

Orange Friday

Dscn0336 On the eve of the Hurricanes' final game in the Orange Bowl, I offer up some Panthers news.

First off, Anthony Stewart's return to the Panthers was shortlived; he was sent back to the minors today with Jassen Cullimore coming up from Rochester. Cullimore wasn't at practice today, but we're talking to him before the game. Will update if anything good comes of interview.

Tomas Vokoun back in net tonight; no shock there. He's been playing well.

Going to be a sad evening in the Bowl tomorrow. If you have some good stories or pictures from your time in the Bowl, feel free to forward them. I'm thinking of running something on Monday.

Go ahead and sent all pics and stuff to:

thegman75@gmail.com

Let's all have some fun out there tomorrow. Instead of a funeral, let's have a party!

Later on....

November 08, 2007

Money Talks

MoneyForbes came out with its latest franchise rankings today, with -- no surprise -- the Maple Leafs being the NHL's most valuable teams.

I don't know if they are printing money at Air Canada Center, but they might as well be. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has its hands in many a pot, and are beneficiaries of a strong Canadian dollar to boot. Who knows what will happen if this team ever wins on a consistent basis.

Now, before we go to far, you have to know the league and their teams will put down the Forbes report and call it inaccurate. They always do. So, for that reason alone, I believe it.

The Panthers are ranked 23rd, worth $151 million -- six percent more than last year. Having a favorable arena lease in Sunrise is a big factor here. According to the report, the team had revenues of $67 million last year, but lost $7.1 mil.

To read the entire report, there are some interesting numbers here, check out this link: big money pimpin

Some thoughts: The Lightning are the division's most valuable team at $199 mil, and they are being sold. Carolina, despite winning the Cup two years ago, lost $7.5 mil last season; aside from Tampa, the only SE team to make money last year was the Caps, who came in with a cool mil.

November 07, 2007

Fuel, Meet Fire

TortsTAMPA -- Bolts coach John Tortorella has never shied away from controversy, and this morning, said the Panthers were whining about Nick Tarnasky's hit on Mike Van Ryn on Monday night.

Tortorella said Tarnasky shouldn't have received anything, much less five minutes for boarding, nor a 10-minute misconduct (that was probably for punching Bryan Allen while he was being held back by a ref, but whatever).

Torts even used Denis Potvin as an example in his pregame press conference, saying the league has gone soft.  He says in Denis' day, players expected to be hit and how a player took a hit was a big part of how the game was played. Now, he says, players don't expect to be hit.

You can see the press conference in its entirety at tampabaylightning.com

The fun stuff -- and this is being relative -- doesn't come until the end.

-- Looks like things are heating up between the Panthers and at least two of their division rivals, no?

Stuff like this -- and Divegate in Carolina -- only fuels the passion and stokes rivalries. I love it.

Hello from Tampa

Manatee Sitting here at Tampa Tribune Arena in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg, ready to update you loyal readers of On Frozen Pond.

According to the Tampa guys, Johan Holmqvist back in net for the Bolts.

You know Bryan Allen isn't here, and Anthony Stewart arrived late and missed the skate. He worked out off ice and is ready to go tonight.

Cory Murphy is on the ice, so the power play is safe for yet another night...

-- Talked to JM a little more about Jassen Cullimore. I wrote today that Cullimore hasn't worked himself into shape yet, that's why he wasn't called up. Got that from the Rochester paper, which wrote Cullimore didn't play the other night because of fatigue.

Anyway, JM says Cullimore hurt his knee the other night and isn't 100 percent. Says if he was ready to go, he would have gotten the call up to replace Allen for tonight's game and who knows what else. Adds Allen is a day-to-day with the cut on his face.

November 06, 2007

Making my way back to You, Babe

Steve30If you were watching last night's game on FSN, you probably caught Craig Minervini interviewing the dude in the Houston Aeros jersey.

We didn't have the sound on in the press box, but later, Craigervini told me the dude's story. Name is Steve Williamson, and he's in the middle of a 30 games in 30 nights roadie. Going to see each NHL arena in a month.

And I thought my traveling sucked.

Tonight, Steve is in Ottawa to see the Senators play the Maple Leafs, then it's off to Pittsburgh.

Here's what he said about his trip to Sunrise: A sparse crowd saw the game, and for the first time on my trip, the upper deck of an arena was almost completely empty. The building, like the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, is well-designed and welcoming, but without any of the unique touches that I've seen in other cities. A solid 7 out of 10, but without much atmosphere.

AND: I'd never been in an Ikea store and was blown away by a) the size of the store, b) the low prices and c) how many people were in there on a Monday afternoon. They even have an overflow parking lot a couple miles away that they share with the BankCenter, but I imagine Ikea needs it more that the Panthers!

Ha! I liked that line.

Anyway, here's a link to his website and current blog. Enjoy.

CRAZY FLIGHTS

Vote for Olli...And Jay...And Tomas...

Pedro The NHL All-Star balloting is going to get underway soon, and the Panthers' crack staff is currently working on ways to get their boy Olli Jokinen onto the East team.

I say if he keeps his current play up, he's on the team anyway.

But they'd like your vote. So, I think, would Olli. But the jury's out on that one.

Some staff members were working on potential voting campaigns for their captain last night. Some good ideas were bandied about.

Yet they would like your help. What kind of campaign ideas do you have? What do you think would make people want to visit the NHL site and go through an All-Star ballot? Last year, the Vote for Rory campaign in Vancouver was very popular, but at the end of the day, he didn't make it.

Any ideas? I will pass along what gets offered up to the right peoples. Couple caps for the best idea.

-- Also, announced today: Three Panthers on the East ballot. Olli, Jay Bouwmeester and Tomas Vokoun. Six players from Ottawa are on the ballot, and they probably deserve it. Pretty good team up there...

NEWS FROM TUESDAY

-- Both Bryan Allen and Cory Murphy were out of practice today and questionable for tomorrow in Tarpon Bay. Allen apparently needed stitches after going into the boards during the first period Monday, and the thought is those reopened when he got punched by Nick Tarnasky in the second. Murphy played throughout, but JM said he had some sort of leg injury.

Jassen Cullimore might be an option, although JM doesn't know if he's 100 percent. He missed a recent game in Rochester with an apparent knee injury. If the Panthers need d-men, one option -- aside from Cullimore -- is bring up a forward (Globke, Stewart, et al) from Roch and drop Montador back.

Rustyhand -- Rusty was at practice today, the cast off his right wrist as you can see to the right. As you might be able to tell, he still has stitches, but says they are coming out tomorrow. He says the wrist feels good, better than doctors thought it would so he'll be back sometime soon it looks like.

-- And now, the winner of our first Halloween costume contest. This was a late arrival, although it wasn't the kids fault. Their mom's email was sent on Halloween, but it went to my spam folder. Sure we've all had that happen.

So, the winner of the Panthers caps are.....Cam (Astronaut) and Ty (Firefighter) ....Congrats fellas. Enjoy the caps....

Kids-- More bad news in Tampa. Dan Boyle's tendons haven't healed properly, he's going to need a second surgery.

Tough news for a team that's already reeling. Boyle, if you remember, was talking to someone at his locker when his skate fell off its hook and hit Boyle in the wrist. Nasty injury. Boyle came back and played in a few games but didn't have full power in his wrist. Obviously.

November 05, 2007

Pick-a-Section

EmptiesOK, we know South Florida is pretty sad as a sports region, but Monday night's turnout at BAC was pretty pathetic even by Broward standards.

Here come the Panthers, the only pro team in South Florida with a win this fall season, drawing the proverbial flies to their game against cross-state "rival" Tampa Bay.

How empty is it? Sections 412 and 429 are completely empty. Not a person in them. There's only a handful of people in the other seats in the upper bowl. The Panthers were to give out caps to the first 10,000 fans, so lets figure they have about 4,000 left (they are nice caps).

The only game that has drawn well this season was the home opener against Jersey. The crowd last week was sad. Carolina's Erik Cole was jokingly asked by News-Observer beat guy Luke DeCock about the bad calls, and how the home team seems to catch the breaks. "An intimidating building like this? You're going to get those calls at home."

-- Olli is playing in his 500th game as a Panther tonight.

-- Martin St. Louis scores, on assists from The Cavalier and Florida's Other Richards. Tampa's Big Three indeed.

-- If you do decide to come to a Panthers game in the coming days, bring some food with ya. The non perishable kind, that is. The Panthers are having a food drive and donations to the food bank can be dropped off at the arena. Another good cause. Just leave the canned beets at home. You're the only one who likes them.

-- Mini Stanley got her own mini ATV. Saw it downstairs. Nice ride for a small cat.

-- Relax, Ville just tied 'er up. Midway through the first, FLA 1, TBAY 1



Holding Steady

Tomas_2 Tomas Vokoun will be back in net tonight when the Panthers play host to the Lightning. Tampa Bay may be struggling, but JM is taking no chances and is rolling out his main man once more.

Not really a surprise when you think about it. As I wrote today Pony Rides JM loves playing his goalies.

Think about it: In 2005-06, Roberto Luongo sets franchise record with 22 straight starts. In 2006-07, despite a wonky back, Ed Belfour surpasses Luongo and plays in 27 straight.

Tonight, Vokoun -- apparently healthy and feeling fine out there -- gets his eighth consecutive start. Give Vokoun Tuesday off, and he plays Wednesday in Tampa. Rest him Thursday, he goes Friday against Atlanta then next Monday against Carolina. Have to figure at that point Craig Anderson comes back into the picture, starting the following night against the Thrash.

But who knows. Twenty-eight straight games could be in the cards.

-- Hate to spoil the party, but Murf the Surf who was once a Smurf is Florida's Defensive Player of the Month. Will be honored before tonight's game.

November 03, 2007

Nothing finer than diving in Caroliner

DiverRALEIGH -- Well it seems the Hurricanes are finally upset about all this diving stuff.

The guess here is they are upset because some calls went against them. Sure, they were bad calls, but it's almost as if Carolina expects the Panthers to feel bad about the calls or to come out and say something about them.

Well, sorry, but as many times as the Panthers have been on the other side of a bad call, they ain't saying nothing. No one on the Panthers think the two diving calls handed out Wednesday were warranted, but they sure as heck aren't giving them back.

Personally, I don't know if the Hurricanes are a bunch of divers or not. Do they embellish hits to draw calls sometimes? I would say yes. If not, this is the softest bunch of pro athletes around.

-- Here in the first intermission, fixed the blog as you can see. Good game so far for the Hurricanes; Panthers are very lucky this game is only 1-0. Vokoun has been great in net, and John Grahame has had good games against the Panthers in the past.

-- Go Navy...

--

November 01, 2007

Super Joe

NieuwyBUFFALO -- Greetings from western New York, the birthplace of the low-fat Chicken Caesar Salad as well as the home of Super Bowl championship football.

OK, made up the the part about being in western New York.

One thing you can say about this place is there is no thought of a drought. Good clean water everywhere. And the people are nice. I used to make fun of Buffalo, but it's grown on me. One of my favorite trips. I always have fun here.

Anyway, today's topic seems to be Joe Nieuwendyk's role on the Florida Panthers hockey team. If you haven't read my story from last night yet, you can visit it here WIN ONE FOR THE NIEUWSTER

At first, I didn't think much of seeing Joe talk to the team during the second intermission. Especially when Zednik was called for an early penalty giving the Canes a chance to break the game open. But then things started to go Florida's way, and lo and behold, the Cats took advantage. Haven't seen much of that.

A lot of the guys were praising Joe's speech, the captain of the team saying it really inspired them.

Now, why would Joe's voice hold more credence than that of coach/GM Jacques Martin? Or Olli himself?

I don't know that it did. I think it was good to get someone in that room that these guys obviously respect. And although Joe apparently repeated things JM and the rest of the coaches have said in the past, maybe this time is sounded different coming from someone different. Either way, things clicked. Now, I'm not trying to undermine Joe and his affect on this team. Absolutely not.

But I think some fans are ready to toss JM as coach and Olli as captain because Joe -- a three time Cup champ who is as nice a fellow one would ever want to meet -- was able to come in and provide a spark.

Guess what? Just getting Joe in that room showed that JM realized that's what they needed. That was a good coaching move. And Olli knows he's the leader of this team, but Joe might be able to articulate things a little differently. Credit Olli for not being jealous, for knowing his responsibilities to this team are bigger than perhaps saying 'that should be me up there.' Sometimes, you have to step to the side for the betterment of the team.

What's best for the team is what happened Wednesday night, and both Olli and Jacques realized that. For some who are calling for Joe to become the new coach of this team based on one intermission pep talk need to realize that if it wasn't for some surprising help from the refs, the Panthers may just have lost that game Wednesday. What would people have been saying about Joe's talk then? Probably nothing, because it would have simply been a footnote.

I do think Joe is going to make an outstanding hockey coach if that's what he wants to do. Right now, I don't think that's the case. Here's a guy who, truthfully, knew his priorities Wednesday. And that was taking his kids out on Halloween.

Family is way too important for Joe to jump back into hockey full-time right now. Do you know how many hours a day JM puts into this team and organization? How about Guy Charron and Pierre Groulx? These guys don't just stop working when practice and games are over. They live this sport and this team. I don't think Joe is ready to dedicate himself to that life right now, and good for him. He's done enough in this game that he can decide when and where he's going to go in hockey. If anywhere.

He has a good gig with the Panthers, and talking him into joining the organization has proved from the start to be a very wise move by JM.

Nothing but good comes from having a guy like Joe Nieuwendyk around the Panthers. And JM and Olli aren't looking over their shoulder because he's around. They are all part of the same team, all with the same goal in mind.

That said, if JM was ready to turn the coaching responsibilities over to someone else, he might have a candidate for the job living not too far from the arena in Parkland.

Anyway, off to dinner. Going to order one of those famous Buffalo-style Chicken salads. Please note the celery and the dressing. That's a salad to me.

Wings


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