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Time for Some Change

Loonies I've been known to watch movies I really enjoy -- you know, classics like Animal House, Caddyshack, Fletch, and my new fave, Superbad -- over and over. I'm even guilty of giving movies I don't like a second or third chance once they come on HBO.

That said, it isn't much fun to watch the same nonsense with a certain hockey team night after night. If not for the writer's strike, this Florida Panthers show would have been canceled weeks ago.

Seriously, how can this team pull the same stunts night after night? Are they this bad? These are the same questions that have been asked the past three years. No answers come to mind.

This is by no means a Stanley Cup contender, the Panthers not a team of All-Stars.

It is a group with some talent, only little drive. They have a problem with their collective heart. How else does one describe how they come out and give the effort they do night after night. If they only came out flat every once in a while, that would be forgivable. This team just doesn't seem to care. About anything.

The truth is, if this continues, this group is probably going to cost their coach -- and perhaps some of the assistants -- their jobs.

For a good many of them, that doesn't bother them either.

Knowing your lack of heart, lack of effort, lack of professionalism cost hard-working guys their job should hurt a little bit. Should be a just a bit embarrassing. But nothing seems to sting this collective bunch.

And that's why it's time for some changes.

Jacques Martin needs to go on the offensive. Now. It's obvious there are guys on this team that don't care. Two of the perceived problems missed Saturday's game with injuries, so they can't shoulder that much blame.

The Panthers should be embarrassed about Saturday's performance, as they should their five game losing streak at home, their nine losses in 11 games at home. How do you lose nine of 11 at home? We're talking losses to average Boston, Toronto, Washington, Montreal teams, not to mention road dogs like the Lightning.

But are they embarrassed? Some, yes. Most, no.

Olli Jokinen talked this summer about players having to be accountable, but that has not been the case this year. No one on this team seems to take accountability for anything, although Bryan Allen and Stephen Weiss come close, those two being very critical of themselves, sometimes too much so. Tomas Vokoun, too.

Yet nothing ever changes. They win a game, they move on. They lose, they workout, show up the next day and move on.

From what I've surmised, Martin is not on the hot seat just yet, although there is a thought he may be asked to give up one of his two jobs. He shouldn't be surprised. This is a result-based business, and the Panthers have not delivered the goods.

Martin cannot wash his hands and say this is a mess not of his doing, either. The players he didn't like from the Keenan era are gone. This is his team. And it's not one to be proud of right now.

Injuries, obviously, have robbed the Panthers of some offensive play and a little grit. Ville Peltonen should be back soon, and that'll help but his absence is not why Florida's offensive numbers sit lower than a chopped 1976 El Camino. Cory Murphy could be back, but who knows what's up with that. 

I've never been one to advocate panic, but a good little shake up can't be all bad.

Does anyone disagree that something needs to be done? If so, it needs to be done now.

The only thing keeping the Panthers afloat right now is their crummy division, one the Panthers realistically should be not only leading, but running away with. Yes, I said it. The Panthers should have overtaken the very-average Hurricanes weeks ago and begun distancing themselves. 

But they didn't. Instead, you see more of the same. Win two, lose four. Win three, lose two. It's a maddening cycle that has to be driving the few people who care mad. This team seems afraid to be successful. They were a lousy two points out of first place not long ago, then deflated like an old Mylar balloon trapped in the rafters of a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

I think Martin can afford to gamble and make a few moves to shake things up right now if only because the Southeast Division isn't getting any better.

The five teams within the division stink. The winner gets the third seed in the playoffs, and a fate very much like the Thrashers last year. Only the Panthers need the playoff money, so two home losses -- and the gates they'll bring -- is better than none.

Martin shouldn't mortgage the future of the franchise by making crazy deals a la Atlanta last season. The Thrashers gave up way too much for too little of a return. Shawn Matthias, Michael Frolik, Michal Repik, etc., are off limits. Ownership should make sure Martin knows this. Even if the Panthers make a run and make the playoffs, does anyone think they're going to do anything in them? Don't give away future stars for a few playoff dates.

No, I just think Martin needs to make a few deals to turn things around. Wake this bunch up. You like playing in Florida, wearing shorts and sandals to practice every day? Your wife enjoys the South Florida lifestyle? Oh, I'm sorry. You've just been traded to Edmonton. Bundle up, Chico.

Martin also needs to make nice with old friend Mike Keenan. See what players -- aside from Jokinen -- the Flames want. See if a deal could be made. Heck, put a player or two on waivers. See what happens. What's the worst thing that can happen? Someone actually pick the player up? That might be a good thing.

This ship is sinking and there aren't enough guys bailing water. The ones that are doing the heavy lifting are getting ticked watching others not do anything. It's time to make some changes before Washington and Tampa overtakes this bunch. I know the fans understand, but do the players here understand the opportunity these Panthers are squandering?

They are the only game in town right now, the only pro team worth watching.

Yet last night, if given the choice, I would have watched the Miami Heat.

It's one thing to lose. It's another to be so nonchalant about it.

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great post, you know ive been calling for JM to move up, newendyke to move in and lets get some of these parkland guys off their xbox 360s and on to a moving truck north...wait till their wives find out they cant drive to sawgrass anymore (ask Gina)...please george move your post to column form for all to read!!!!

PS feel better

Great post...I agree with your comments on the team and the division...they should have run away with it. Its time for JM to instill alittle fear about the security of some jobs, via trade or waivers, or else this malaise will continue.

Where is the leadership...from management, coachs, players; I don't see it coming from anywhere.

JK

Great post...I agree with your comments on the team and the division...they should have run away with it. Its time for JM to instill alittle fear about the security of some jobs, via trade or waivers, or else this malaise will continue.

Where is the leadership...from management, coachs, players; I don't see it coming from anywhere.

JK

JM is going nowhere because he is the one that fires coaches and Cohen hasn't a clue.

Overall JM is a failure as a coach, and as a GM too.

Olli needs 2 proven 1st line wingers, and Ville is not one of them. His loss only affects the 3rd line.

Murphy and Welch would probably make a difference.

The dead weight is Stumpel, Stewart, Salei, Mezei, and we could probably trade away Zednik and Dvorak as well.

If something is not done in the next 2 or 3 days then it will be too late.

Admitted, trades are hard these days. But, once you do it you will see a fear. Oh yes, put a guy on waivers, he will wake up with a worse team.

JM must step down as coach as he is a failure. He couldn't do it in OTT and he has less talent here.

We have a deep draft and no 1st rd pick. So what is this season about, why are we playing?? The playoffs are the only prize and it will never happen with this group.

JM MUST move the ones that he has allegedly identified as not competing.

The entire team, except the Weiss line, are playing at a level below the line that they're actually on.

It appears that JM was afraid to bring in a UFA that would cost more than what Olli makes. Or, it's possible that nobody that's worth anything would come here.

Olli needs 2 wingers and the Czech brothers (Rad and Zed) are not it. They play well as a 3rd line. But, is that what it comes down to? JM as a GM was able to bring in a couple 3rd and 4th line (McLean) players. That's not successful as a GM.

He mortgaged the future picks to get Vokie, but he has no plan in place for this season as far as forwards. I'm sure that Vokie wants out of here and soon he will melt down and not care like 1/2 of this team already.

It would be a complete disaster with #29.

That should have been a complete disaster WITHOUT #29.

Spot on GR. This team is lolly gaggin, little Bull Durham movie reference for you. Martin needs to go postal in the shower and throw some hockey sticks around and get rid of the country club atmosphere around the team.

There are 7 weeks before the trade deadline. If we want to go to the playoffs then the trades must happen now.

If we want to build for the future then we can wait, but it will not take us to the playoffs.

JM needs to get upstairs and get going. But, by doing that he must find a coach and Hartley could be it. I don't think that Quinn is the answer because he is old school and the game has changed leaving him and JM behind.

This team is terrible at dump and chase and JM continues to make them do it. It's obvious to everyone but him. The players know it and that's why you see half hearted attempts.

They have no confidence and you can see it when they constantly try these blind passes, in all 3 zones.

Don't be surprised to see Jay Boumeester refuse to agree to a deal so that he can get an offer sheet.

It appears that he hates it here and he knows that K Lowe would offer up to get him back in his hometown, not to mention all of the other teams.

The upside is the 1st rd picks in exchange.

Hopefully, the picks won't be wasted on the likes of an Anthony Stewart type (I know that he was not selected from offer sheet picks, I'm just saying he's a complete bust).

This is not the year to be such losers because there are no picks in the 1st rd.

2009 is the time to be a failure because John Tavares (The Next Next One) is eligible.

Nice post GR, you hit the nail right on the head. JM isn't head coach material in this league anymore, and the only good he has done for this team has been as GM. Denis Potvin made a statement the other night on FSN that it's easy to coach defensive/positional hockey (JM's style), but offensive/ puck possession hockey is harder to come by. With the exception of the Detroit Red wings.

The Panthers have many great skaters, but these players aren't being utilized as they should be. They play as if they are bored with the system, as if the system isn't to their liking. Their constantly on the defensive because its all they are "coached". Vokoun has faced the most shots in the League because his team is "defensively coached"... There's no offensive enthusiasm, no hype. Nothing but bad passing, bad decisions, not enough traffic infront of the net, overall, bad offensive coaching.

I don't want to look foward to next year for a playoff birth. A playoff birth this year, even if the Cats get knocked out in the 1st round would be a success, and a sign for a better year next year. But if the Cats can't get to the playoffs in a stagnant division, I wouldn't blame the players as much as I would blame JM and his stubborness in not having more sense to see that his players just aren't responding and that he should look to hire a head coach who will make this team the offensive threat that its capable of being.

good post george. i agree with you on alot of the points you made. however - i'll take you up on one part:

you say this team is good enough. personally - i don't. they have a great goaltender, a good-turned-decent-because-of-injuries defence and a very, very mediocre...lets be honest....bad offensive attack. jokinen is a great player, but he's on his own out there. literally. he has no linemates. have you noticed lately how often he's been turning the puck over in the neutral zone? hell, last night he had two bad turnovers in a span of 20 seconds. he's trying to do too much. he's trying to do it all himself because he knows his linemates aren't going to help him out. the booth-weiss-horton line has proven to be a good second line, comparitive to what is on this team, but you put that line on any other team and they're mediocre, at best. they're producing, but not anything special. it just seems that way because the other 3 lines are totally unproductive.

i don't think this team has the offense in them to do it. some of that has to do with martin's system, but more of it has to do with the players he selected. his teams in ottawa consistently led the league in scoring and last years panthers team had no problems putting the puck in the net (for the most part, anyway)

last season this team was far from an offensive juggernault. far from it. but where they had a step (a huge step) on this team is last season, they'd grind you to death with guys like roberts, gratton, gelinas, kolnik, etc. when teams would play tight defensively the panthers could just throw it in the corner, dig it out and eventually cause a mistake and slam the puck in. it wasn't pretty, but it helped. and it may not turn into actual goals but how much time did they waste cycling the puck down low? that means less time in your own zone, less chances to make a mistake in your own zone.

this years team? you see none of that. none. they never maintain a cycle. they try to score on odd man rushes and counterattacks but that "philosophy" is reliant on the other team making a mistake. they don't make a mistake, you don't score. your fate is in their hands essentially, and it's not good enough.i'm guessing martin wants them to do what last years team did - but they can't. why doesn't this team just grind it out? it's like sticking a round peg in a square hole. you really think radek dvorak's going to win battles along the boards? dude works hard, but he has no balance and has terrible puck protection skills. zednik? inconsistent effort. mclean? he looks like he's 5'8 145 lbs. when teams cough on him he'll fall over.

these are the players he chose to replace our wall players. they contribute in different ways. dvorak, mclean are far more responsible defensively than gratton, kolnik, roberts, and that's likely why martin chose them. but we had that type of player already. ville peltonen. rusty olesz. gregory campbell, even david booth last year played that role. even stephen weiss is that "type" of two-way player. we didn't need that type of player here.

this team needs offense. badly. they can't maintain offensive zone pressure and because of that, 80% of the game is played in their own zone. their defensive coverage, despite the injuries, is decent, usually, but they play so often in their own zone that they're bound to make mistakes. and i feel martin's philosophy is hurtin them here. he sees mistakes in the defensive zone and tries to solve them when the root of the problem is at the other end of the ice.

i don't think there's much available right now for the panthers to do. they need offense, but as you saw last year, it's a sellers market and any moves you make are going to cost you an arm and a leg. only about 2-3 teams right now are clear-cut sellers. thats even less than last year and dainius freakin zubrus got the caps a #1 pick and jiri novotny.

the only thing martin can really do as far as trades is take a flyer on another teams struggling, unerachieving player. maybe swap one of our own for them, or just take their contracts. i've been hoping for david vyborny, mike cammalleri or tuomo ruutu ;), all of who reportedly are available, but i'm not holding my breathe. like you said, we cant afford to deal a frolik or a matthias and anything short of that likely won't net anything worthwhile. not picking up recchi is proving to be a huge mistake. if another player like that pops up, martin has to take the "risk" and take them on because it's the last hope. if it doesn't happen, you sell of the lazy slugs as "rentals" and move on and put another notch in the playoff-less seasons-belt. unfortunately.

It appears to me that the goal of this team is to not have secured a playoff spot until the last day of the season. Then, if they get lucky and get in cool, if they don't more time for golf.

Being secure in their position before then would be too much pressure for them to handle.

The responsibility for the Panthers starts at the top with Cohen, who refused to spend money to bring in quality free agents when the strike ended. The result was a team that consisted nostly of players, who were either too old or too young. Keenan compounded the problem by giving Roberto way in a fit of madness. JM inherited a mess in 2006, which he is trying to straighten out. He did a fine job last year restocking talent in the farm system.

JM has also done a good job assembling a competitive team, but one that is far from an ofensive powerhouse and desperately needs a first line, scoring LW wing to complement Ollie. Trading Vokoun for 2008 draft choices was a no-brainer.The D is simply too thin to withstand losing Welch, Van Ryn and Murphy.

Be realistic. No matter what the team is saying to the press. It is obvious that the team is being built with an eye toward next year. Expect the Panthers to try to resign JayBo, be sellers of 2-3 veteran players in Feb., and then try to sign a scoring LW in the off season.

Great article and my thoughts excatcly. Im so sick and tired of Martin saying after every loss "there are players on this team who dont give there all each night" and he doesnt do anything about it. Waive them, trade them or atleast bench them! This team needs a shakeup now and not 1-2 months from now. We never take risks on picking up players off waivers (Hello Mark Recchi.. a guy who alone would bought us much needed leadership and Jokinen a winger who actually has scored more than 10 goals in a season) My POW is coming from Finland. A guy who gets to see 4-5 games of his beloved Panthers per season but i'll never leave em no mather how sick and tired I get. I mean can it get any worse? Seriously.. can it??

i've watched this time since 95 i was 10 and i fell in love with the game of hockey i got to watch a "real" TEAM they played for each other and the fans the team out there now besides a few play for the name on the back of the jersey not the logo on the front.

i place many a blame on the captain he leads by example. the team follows his lack of toughness just being pushed off the puck. his laziness to come back on defense

someone needs to rip into these guys.

i'm only critizing myself here when martin made the moves this offseason i agreed with most of them like giving horton, weiss, and allen long term deals guys as fans we liked and wanted here.. i didn't agree with the guys we picked up in free agency just becuz i wanted the big splash or something of the sort but i already wanted bouwmeester signed long term and i felt he was gonna demand big money so i bought on that these moves made the team more complete.

in the end i don't agree with those players brought in they have contributed enough to help this team win. i've seen each play hard like dvorak every night diving just to make a play but in the end as a whole even the effort can't help this team

so my only thoughts are martin step down from coach. and do it now before your run out of town like everyone else, then we start all over again which this franchise can't do again. it's time to sell some players even for nothing guys like zednik, stumpel, dvorak, salie trade guys teams want for the stretch run guys with experience and don't ask for anything above average take the fact ur dropping ur cap and spend some money in the offseason..

also include ollie but he should be the only one u should ask for something for since hes still young and a top foward in the league scoring wise

As usual, George, you hit the nail on the head with your blog.

There's not too much I can add to what you've said, nor to the responses you've received from the fans.

I will say, however, that we all seem to stick it out every season in the hopes that the next one will be different, that the players will step up and the playoffs will be a reality.

Unfortunately, all the hope in the world can't mask what is becoming readily apparent: either this team lacks the talent to overcome their apathetic approach to the game or they lack the heart to compensate for their collectively mediocre skill level.

Ah GR, nice to read in public what has been said before but quietly. I am still waiting to hear it asked of JM though! Stright out NO BS.

George:

Been saying that for weeks, you watch this team and they play lazy hockey. Today was a great example 3 times they messed up the line changes and had for 3-5 seconds one guy short on the ice.

Watch the line changes and it tells you all you need about this group of players efforts (they are not worthy of being called a team), it is lazy and just goes through the motions.

Yes you can look at our drafts the last few years and realize that we keep picking the wrong player.

We need a coach that will hold the players accountable instead of watching the same thing game after game. There is no excuse for hard work.

How does a team get less than 5 shots in a period against one of the worse defensive teams in the league?

You only need one hand to count the players that actually work hard. If we did not have Vokoun we would be even further back than we are right now.

We need to identify those that want to play hockey and then see what we can get for the rest

JM needs to stop being Mr. Nice guy or he needs to move upstairs

What the Panthers need is a little cowbell!!!

Seriously though, I wouldn't trade you a used puck back for any of these guys you could move and a used massage table for the guys you could (Horton blows goats as does Weiss...)

Frankly, if I have to hear JM's standard quotes again I am gonna go ape-shit and begin throwing feces in the general direction of the bench!!

Christ, makes me wonder why you even bother to attend the press conferences! Why not just sprinkle in a healthy does of JM's excuses into the article and get your drink on early?!??!

All this aside, I would like to personally thank Alan Cohen for making a total mess of Hockey in S. Florida. With every other team in South Fla. sucking more than a trailer park whore on nickel beer night, an average Panther team MIGHT get some worthwhile attention.

Instead, Cohen continues to put faith in LOSERS like J.M. and still makes sure we get a healthy does of advertising courtesy of Mikey "I'd sell Sponsorship space on my Mother's grave" Yormark.

I can't believe I actually thought they might be ok this season....f me....

Ya this year has been a giant let down and every year never changes. JM get upstairs and GM cuz thats all your good for. Get some bloody first line players and not band-aid 1yr fillers for gods sake. Jokinen is getting pissed cuz last time he signed big contract Keenan fed him bs about getting good wingers. And how long ago was that now? Great article, need a shakeup or im coming down from Canada to shake every player like a month old baby.

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