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48 posts from February 2008

February 29, 2008

Leap Ahead

ManilowBarry Manilow may have come and went, but his famous, once-on-the-ice mug shot lives on.

In the press box at The Bank.

The Manilow pic may have spooked Tomas Vokoun back during that Edmonton disaster -- original post RIGHT HERE EH  -- but I think it looks just fine sitting up in the rafters.

Sure, Barry's ticked he doesn't get his own banner like his pal, contemporary and confidant Celine Dion, but I can't do everything around here.

-- D Bryan Allen out of the lineup again tonight, his sprained knee not feeling much better. Says he's going to see a team doc before the game, will let us know tonight if he's making the trip to Nueva York.

-- C Stephen Weiss says he's Big Apple bound, doesn't know when he's going to play. Locker room is so crowded these days, Weiss and Noah Welch have nothing more than a folding chair at the end of room. Feels like training camp.

-- Former Panthers Sean Hill and Mark Parrish out of the Minnysoter lineup tonight...

-- Nothing new to report on Chad Kilger. JM doesn't want to talk about it for obvious reasons and says he'll know Saturday whether Kilger joins the Panthers on Long Island. Memo to all the new Panthers making their first trip with the Cats to Long Island: Watch out for spilled water on the tile floors. They can be a bit slippery.

-- JM says he talked to Branislav Mezei today, asking him to bring more of a physical game. I honestly think Mez needed a change of scenery, or at least a few days to clear his head. Maybe knowing he's sticking around for at least a few more weeks brings up his play. Remember, he is playing for a contract, either here or somewhere else. Mez is a UFA come summertime.

Dodgertown Winterhaven -- Didn't post yesterday, took a true South Florida day off -- one that didn't include golf. Went and saw the Dodgers for one of the final times in Vero Beach. Opening Day at Dodgertown is something I didn't feel like missing this season.

Going to miss having the Dodgers and Indians (they train in Winter Haven but head to Arizona after this spring as well) in my Sunshine State every spring. At least the Orioles are staying in Fort Lauderdale, right? Right?

February 28, 2008

Rusty Knows...

....about blowing late leads. But, as a member of the Avalanche, Ruslan Salei seems to have forgotten his Panther roots.

Credit Salei with an assist on a Joe Sakic goal with less than 12 seconds left in reguation. As it stands, Avs tied with host Luongos 2-2...

February 27, 2008

Make Like a Leaf...And Get Outta Here

Bifftannen_2 Coming to you live from that very large bank building in downtown Sawgrass Mills, Fla., where tonight your Florida Panthers take on the Toronto Marlies (guest staring Mats Sundin, Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe and some other dudes who wouldn't waive their no-trade clauses).

Had Cliff Fletcher gotten his way -- and the 'Frozen Five' as one Toronto scribe has nicknamed them waived their no-trades -- there would be few recognizable names in this game tonight. But, the Leafs didn't do much, just shipping some of their spare parts south (or in this case, west from Fort Lauderdale Beach) to the Panthers.

THE NEWS: Wade Belak and Chad Kilger have cleared immigration and have their work visa. Belak plays tonight against his former team, Kilger will have to wait. According to Panthers spokesman Justin Copertino, Kilger has been given a leave of absence from the team, he's probably off to Canada to deal with personal issues.

Copertino says JM will not address the issue tonight but will talk more about it tomorrow. Kilger missed six games from Jan. 31-Feb. 13 while with the Leafs because of what he called personal issues, with lots of rumors swirling (as they always do) about the Toronto media about what might be wrong.

Me, I don't care. Never met the guy, but hope he gets his stuff straight.

The thought here is Kilger is headed back to Canada. Being traded to the Panthers in the middle of a road trip can be tough, especially if you got some things going on back home.

Anyway, Belak skated and entertained the Toronto media this morning, but Kilger did not (skate nor entertain).

New d-man Karlis Skrastins, acquired from Colorado for Ruslan Salei, is also here and in the lineup.

-- Thanks to all those who emailed me about one quote in my trade story this morning. Yes, I know it's "peace of mind" not "piece.'' But I will give you a piece of my mind if you all don't start giving me some peace!

-- The number game: Skrastins (nickname: Tins) is wearing No. 3, also worn quite famously in Panther history by Paul Laus. If Skrastins does don Numero Tres, he will be only the second Panther to wear it. That's trivia for ya!

Bernoie_2 Kilger is scheduled to wear No. 19. Other Panthers to wear that number include Radek Dvorak (back in the day), Bernie Kosar (with the Browns, Dolphs and Cowboys), Serge Payer, Stephen Weiss, Byron Ritchie and Andrei Lomakin.

Zo Belak to sport the No. 33, also famously worn by such notables in Panther history as Filip Kuba, Eldon Reddick (?!), Jamie Allison and Alonzo Mourning.

-- Belak out on the ice for pregame skate, sans helmet. Tins is out here too....

-- Cliff Fletcher is here. Saw him chatting with Joe Nieuwendyk up in the press box. Figure the conversation went something like this: "Thanks for telling Jacques about our guys, Joe. If it wasn't for you guys, we might not have traded anyone. Anyone, Joe, anyone!''

-- Nice job by the in-house guys for their skit on a Leafs fan watching the previous Florida-Toronto game. You know, the one that ended with Florida holding on for an 8-0 win...

-- Hearing rumors that Dancing Banana has been recalled to Tampa Bay for spring training. Don't know if I'm believing it. Knowing I don't want to believe it...

February 26, 2008

Final Tally

Cowgirls So, what happened today?

Panthers give up on Ruslan Salei and send him to Colorado; Florida acquires Wade Belak and Chad Kilger from Toronto and get Karlis Skrastins for Salei.

What are your thoughts on the deadline wheeling and deadling by JM? Too little, too much, too late?

I have no problems with these moves. As I've said before, he doesn't have many bullets in that gun after giving up a first for Tomas Vokoun and correctly making players like Olli, Matthias and Frolik off limits. I don't think Atlanta was going to give up Hossa for Mezei; Tampa Bay wasn't swapping Brad Richards for an injured Jozef Stumpel.

I think the team is tougher, if not more talented. I like Ruslan, so I don't like to see him go but I understand why. So did he, adding JM didn't explain himself. "There was nothing to say,'' he said.

Some players were very verbal in that a player like Belak should have been picked up long before, and I asked JM if he had changed his mind on having an enforcer type player. He said he's wanted one all season, just couldn't find the right guy. So there's that.

As always, comments welcomed....

-- Belak is on his way to BAC as I type (it's almost 6 p.m.); stuck in traffic on 595. Welcome to South Florida.

-- Also, according to Lance Hornsby of the Toronto Sun, everyone's favorite ex-Panther has already called him and said he can use his place in Broward County. That friendly fella? Ed Belfour....

-- Then this: "It will be a bit of a culture shock going from 30 TV cameras in the dressing room to one." Funny guy, this Belak.

And that one camera is only if the Panthers' online guy is in there taping interviews...Well, FSN is there a few times too....

-- Just spoke to Wade, very friendly chatty fellow. When asked about immigration, he joked "well, I hear they are really cracking down on that...''

Toronto South

Beach Panthers get another Maple Leaf, sending the third round pick they got from Colorado back to the Fort Lauderdale Maple Leafs for Chad Kilger.

This deal is not official yet, the Panthers trying to squeeze it in (as of this writing, the deadline has passed. It's 3:20 p.m. -- and 5 o'clock somewhere).

Kilger is a left winger, a former first round pick of the Ducks back in 1995. He has 10 goals and seven assists in 53 games this season; his 17 goals in 2005-06 is a career high.

Power Play

Some have wondered whether the massive power outages are going to affect the Panthers as the trade deadline comes to a close.

No, it won't, although the Panthers may try to use it as an excuse later on!

We're sitting at BankAtlantic Center right now, working in the press box. The power did go off twice, but it's back up now and everything is running smoothly. There's even a still picture of Olli Jokinen on the scoreboard.

All is quiet at BAC right now, will continue to bring updates as they come.

Lights Out

Fpl Seems like FP&L is taking their promotion of turning down the lights a little too serious today. Power outages all over, including in Miami. So, having trouble getting updates online at MiamiHerald.com right now.

But now it's up. Here is our latest update with a few quotes scattered here and there:


PS: Previous post regarding Panthers getting a prospect was a mistake. I was at Publix filing that, didn't get details from Panthers PR other than it was a draft pick and a prospect. That prospect turned out to be 33-year-old d-man Karlis Skrastins, who has been part of nine NHL season.

Anyway, this stuff happens on trade deadline day....

-- In the "No Spit" File: TSN is reporting Olli Jokinen isn't going anywhere. Really? Where'd you get that exclusive?

-- Speaking of that, Mike Milbury has replaced Mike Keenan as the TSN trading day punching bag. Heard references to the Jokinen/Luongo trade all day long. Fun stuff.

Salei To Avs

Panthers sell off a veteran piece to Colorado, sending D Ruslan Salei to Avs for a draft pick (third round this year) and d-man Karlis Skrastins, 33, from Latvia.

Skrastins has spent the past four seasons with the Avs, and has a goal with three assists this season. Skrastins started his career in 1998-99 with the expansion Preds, so he's been teammates with Ville Peltonen and Tomas Vokoun.

Panthers Make a Move

Wade Belak goes from Toronto to the Panthers for a fifth round pick, brings some toughness to the Cats.

And they could use it.

Free agent after this season, might be a real good little move.

No Coach

JM not at today's practice, obviously busy with other things today....

Minor Move I

New Jersey gets a needed defenseman, sending agitator Cam Janssen west to St. Loo for Bryce Salvadore....

More from Coral Springs as news comes in. So far, nothing out of Pantherland.

Everyone looks to be here for 1030 practice.

D-Day Deals

DdayLooks like a beautiful day to hit the golf course, maybe hang out by the pool, sipping on a Diet Dr. Pepper with an umbrella in it.

All that good stuff is going to have to wait. It's trade deadline time.

The trade deadline is at 3 p.m. Miami time, so we should have a little bit of fun before now and then.

What do you think the Panthers do? What can the Panthers do? My feeling is they make at least one minor move, and as I've said before, I don't think Olli Jokinen is going anywhere -- despite this past weekend's crummy play by the Panthers (they should have lost both those games).

Besides many of the obvious reasons for not trading Olli, here's one I thought of on the flight home. I'm going to call it the "Michael Yormark Effect" (trademarked in three countries and two counties).

The Panthers have 11 home games left this season, nine in the month of March. The Panthers need to sell tickets to these games, and are going to try and get fans to buy into the "March to the Playoffs" etc.

Hard to do that without the Captain, right? Hard to get fans to buy in -- and buy tickets -- when trading the team's leading scorer (for the past four seasons) is shipped out of town.

I know Alan Cohen was very disappointed after Sunday's loss, and I don't know if fans understand how passionate he is about this team. I think that's why he's pulled the trigger so quick in the past. He's being patient right now. Shipping out Olli isn't being patient. Firing the coach isn't being patient.

You can say what you want about the team not making the playoffs since 2000, but it's not because they've stood still. This team has had more changes than Joan Rivers' mug -- and at least the Panthers are a little better for it.

Bert -- What have the Panthers done on the past two deadline days? In 2006, they signed Olli to a four-year deal, and inked Chris Gratton to a two-year contract. Last year, JM spun off Gary Roberts and an injured Todd Bertuzzi. I'm sure a lot of people would love to see the Panthers announcing nothing more than "we've signed Jay Bouwmeester to a six-year contract...."

-- The Lightning have been busy, no? Vinny Prospal goes to Philadelphia, then they sign Dan Boyle to a six-year deal. So far (9:10 a.m.) that's been it, although it looks like Brad "George" Richards is headed to Dallas.

-- Dougie Mac doing Canadian television today....

-- Check back here throughout the day. Miami Herald D-Day Central is mobile and that means on the road. The Miami Herald Road Trip starts later this morning at Incredible Ice in Coral Springs, then moves on the Big Bank in Sunrise where we'll ride out the storm with a bunch of stressed out media folks from Toronto.

When I hear something, it'll be here.

February 24, 2008

Big Apple Sunday

RangersNEW YORK -- Good times in the Big Apple this day, the sun is out, the air is crisp.

Great night for football.

Or, in this case, hockey.

Panthers/Rangers tonight from the Garden, with both teams coming off Saturday night wins. The Panthers, as you may have heard, avoided a shutout and snatched victory away from defeat as Jay Bouwmeester scored with 3.7 seconds left in regulation to tie it, Olli Jokinen scoring in overtime for a 2-1 win at Philadelphia. The Rangers won in Buffalo.

Should be a good game tonight.

-- Rostislav Olesz seems to be doing fine, and his foot is OK too. Olesz plays tonight.

-- Craig Anderson back in goal tonight.

-- Just kidding. Tomas Vokoun gets the call (ring, ring)....

-- Mike Van Ryn saw his doctor last night, all looks to be good. Ryno says things are going very well, talks of him being back in the lineup in a few weeks.

-- JM added Radek Dvorak could be back soon, will know more -- he says -- come "Monday or Tuesday.''

February 23, 2008

Phreezing in Philly

PhanaticPHILADELPHIA -- Hello and good evening from beautiful Philadelphia, the Land of Lincoln. Well, Lincoln Financial Field, anyway.

Had a good cheesesteak this afternoon for lunch at the market, and otherwise stayed in my hotel and watched basketball. Bad day for the Zips, a good one for the Hurricanes and Wildcats (Kentucky and Villanova).

-- Craig Anderson gets the call in nets tonight. Tomas Vokoun tomorrow.

-- No morning skate today because of Villanova/UConn game at the new Spectrum this afternoon. Good game. Second straight Saturday the Panthers have followed a college basketball game. Last week it was N.C. State/Clemson at RBC....

-- D Bryan Allen is here (flew up separate) and is in the lineup.

-- Mike Van Ryn and Noah Welch are both here, both send their best to fans back in South Florida.

-- Did you know the name Philadelphia comes to us from Greece? Well, sure. It's literal translation is "Killer Cheesesteaks."

-- Flyers have lost nine straight games. That can't be good for the Panthers...

Banana -- Philadelphia doesn't have an inflatable dancing banana, but they do have an inflatable dancing sandwich.

"Peanut Butter Cheesteak Time!"

-- Beezer is here, so the game is on HDNet for those who have it. He sends his best as well.

-- Magnum has been scratched, so Branislav Mezei is back in the lineup.

February 22, 2008

Change of Scenery?

SnowohioCLEVELAND -- Still in C-Town, home of the Tribe, waiting to rejoin the Florida hockey club in Philadelphia, supposedly a very loving town.

The Panthers play two games before the league's trading deadline hits midnight, and despite Florida's recent third-period meltdowns, I don't see them as sellers and they don't have enough chips to wheel off to be major buyers either.

The Trade Olli voices are getting louder of late, and that's understandable. The team's late collapses speaks to its very heart, and therefore its leadership. Some of this is on Olli, yes. But it's on everyone on this team -- coach included. These are tough times to be part of the Panthers, especially since the team squandered six points, "earning" just one in the past three games.

Is there time for the Panthers to turn it around? Absolutely. But the team needs to turn on the signal and make their move now. They need to get three points out of Philly and New York, and that's not going to be easy.

-- My take on Olli: The time may just be right for a change of scenery for the Florida captain. He's about to go another season out of the playoffs, and now he's getting real close to Guy's NHL record for most games without appearing in the postseason.

He obviously hasn't been the same since the Richard Zednik incident in Buffalo (zero goals, one assist in past six games after scoring a goal in five straight including the Buffalo game), although he had a bunch of chances last night.

The problem for Florida is, it won't get back what it should for Olli in a deadline deal. Plus, moving your leading scorer and captain isn't real conducive toward making a playoff push.

But the Panthers could be of the mind that, well, they haven't made the playoffs WITH Olli; they can miss the playoffs just as well without him. Tough day for this franchise when that deal is made, though.

And maybe such trade is never done. A lot could happen between now and the playoffs.

February 21, 2008

Bad Business

Anyone interested in trading six points for one? That's what the Panthers have just done.

Great, very entertaining game. But this one -- third straight game where Cats blow two-goal lead in third - raises a lot of questions. Same questions we've been asking the past three seasons..

Alex Auld was digging the win, no?

Live, from Cleveland

CLEVELAND - Greetings from Ohio's capital city, mad props to Harpo's Sports Café for not only having 80 TVs, but the Center Ice package as well.

On cellphone, so this is going to be short..

- Obviously great to see Richard Zednik back at the arena, that should be a real boost for the fellas...

- No shock seeing Mez get benched, right? One scout told me his stock goes up when he doesn't play. I don't think Mez is here this time next week...

- So JM says Noah Welch may be back in a few weeks. Ryno, too. We'll see what happens there..

- I know Moller was waiting for days to bust out 'Peanut Butta Jelly Time' when FLA scored its first goal...trust me, I laughed...

- Speaking of that, how great is XM Radio in rental cars?

- This place also has the Pens game on, as well as the Bug Jackets...hoping to put on the ATLs as well...There's Rimer now!

February 19, 2008

No Soup for You

SoupnaziPITTSBURGH -- Gregory Campbell not on the ice for warm-ups here at Thornton Mellon's Tall-and-Fat Arena, so it appears the Flu beat the Panthers once more.

As stated below, Drew Larman has been called up to take Campbell's place on the roster.

That is all for now.

-- Actually, soup might be good for Soup. Always helps me when I'm sick. In fact, I had some kickin' chicken spaetzle soup today. Should have brought some back to the hotel. Didn't think of it though.

-- In a shockingly surprising move, Magnus "Magnum" Johansson is a healthy scratch, replaced in the lineup by one Cory Murphy.

-- The Panthers hit 290 man-games missed tonight. Will hit 300 on Saturday in Philadelphia. Congrats to the Panthers on this stunning achievement.

-- Last time the Panthers were here, I went to an NFL playoff game. Seems like a long time ago.

-- Stat Of The Day: Florida has a grand total of one goal against Pitt goalie Ty Conklin in two games (tonight is No. 3) this season.

-- Stat Of The Day Jr.: Make that two....

-- Stat Of The Day III: Ice time for Jay Bouwmeester in the first period Tuesday was a shade under 11 minutes (10:52). Panthers are playing their stars, the Olli Hortenen combo (Sierra Turkey combo?) getting almost nine minutes. Brett McLean 8:26....

-- SOTD IV: Panthers now have three shorthanded goals, with McLean getting the third midway through the second on Tuesday. Who has the other two?

Drew Larman Show

DrewPITTSBURGH -- The Panthers just can't seem to get any good news lately. Monday, we found out Stephen Weiss is out at least two weeks with a broken finger. Tuesday, Gregory Campbell missed practice with the stomach flu.

Drew Larman gets his first callup of the season, may play tonight. Campbell is locked in his room in Pittsburgh, and could play if he feels better. We'll see.

-- JM should be on his way to the airport as we speak, catching a 3 p.m. flight to the Steel City. Word is, he'll be in the house for the pregame meeting at 6.

February 18, 2008

Weiss Out

PITTSBURGH - C Stephen Weiss out at least two weeks with a broken finger on his left hand...