It's apparent Matthias is headed back to juniors, but who knows? If he has a big game tonight, maybe he gets a reprieve. Don't bet on that. Jozef Stumpel looks ready to go and could play tonight although it might be wise to give him the full All-Star break off. Problem then is he might be rusty when he returns.
In the words of JM: "We'll wait and see as the game comes, wait until after the skate.'' Translation: Gamtime decision. Although as is usually the case, the decision has been made.
Stewart's return comes at a good time for the struggling Rochester Americans. The once-proud Amerks are now a shell of their former selves, playing in an empty arena as they've dropped a shocking 22 of 24 games. Stewart needs to go to Rochester and start dominating at that level. He hasn't shown that yet, and the Panthers are concerned. Some told me this last stint with the Panthers was his big chance to show he belongs at this level, and while he played much better, he didn't overwhelm anyone.
-- Just got an email from old pal Eklund. He says Olli ticked someone off in the Panthers front office lately and basically demanded a trade. Says Ek: "I would be shocked if he were still a Panther come Feburary 27. And another big name as well.''
I guess I need to start saying my goodbyes to Olli while he's still here.
Obviously, I'm being sarcastic here.
And I don't know what Olli could have done to anger anyone in this organization. He does everything for the Panthers. They ask, Olli does. On ice, off ice. It doesn't matter. I mean this guy goes to dinners with sponsors. You think he likes that? Think he needs the free meal? No, he's trying to help out this franchise in any way he can. And he is appreciated for his efforts.
Although word that he and Nate Horton left the team's golf tournament very early has ruffled some feathers. I don't think the Panthers are going to deal him away for something like this, although if true, and by all accounts it is, Olli and Nate should apologize. A team function is a team function.
Again, if he does indeed go to ownership and ask for a trade, then that's one thing. And that's the only way I see him being dealt. It has to come from Olli. And I don't think he's reached that point.
And who is the other big name? The Panthers don't have any other big names, unless the thought is if Olli goes, Horton goes to. Don't see that happening. I could see the Panthers making some minor deals near the deadline, which is a month away.
JM is known as being very, very patient and not being too quick to act. If this team is in contention come the trade deadline -- and thanks to being in the weakest division in the league they'd better be -- I think the Panthers make some moves. Very minor ones.