« January 2008 | Main | March 2008 »

48 posts from February 2008

February 18, 2008

On the Road, Again

WillieHappy President's Day to all of you out there who have been a president sometime in your lives. Hope you have a happy day, and remember, this day is about you!

Delayed out of Fort Lauderdale today, just killing time as I wait to board my flight to Pittsburgh. Missed Saturday's game in Raleigh, the first road game I've missed this season. Figured I was due. Last time I missed a game in Raleigh, Florida led 3-0 going into the third, only Carolina scored six in the third to win. No way something like that could happen again, right?

No, Saturday's collapse may have been bigger than the one last year. The Panthers are actually in the thick of the playoff race this time around, and Saturday's loss, I think, is going to stick. And stink. This is one of those losses we're going to point to at the end of the year. Talk all you want about injuries and what not, but Saturday's loss is inexcusable. Florida led 4-2 in the third.  The Fakecanes had a goalie in net who has been so bad this year he was waived and not picked up by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Carolina may not make the playoffs this season, their injury list growing by the day, but it may have done the Panthers some serious damage in their postseason quest. Lot of time left in this season, and how quickly the Panthers can forget about this past game may determine their fate.

-- Once I get an update on Stephen Weiss' injury I will post something here. All I know is he's back in South Florida, supposedly getting an MRI today. JM is also not with the team in Pitt, he's at the GM meetings on Florida's other coast.

-- Why don't they have a Vice President's Day?

-- Being at Fort Lauderdale airport these days is a lot like sitting around the terminals in Las Vegas. People getting off the plane look so excited to be here, the warmth smacking them in the face as soon as they disembark. People are literally stripping as they run down the terminal toward baggage claim.

Different story for those about to board their plane for home. Their vacation being over is now a reality, that leather coat packed away the past week now rearing its ugly head. Some folks are obviously in denial, sitting in the airport in their shorts, sandals, hideous tropical silk shirt. But that bulky jacket is nearby, ready to be thrown back on.

Paradise won for some, lost for others.

Thanks for visiting Greater Fort Lauderdale....



February 16, 2008

Richard Zednik at Home

ZednikRichard Zednik was quietly released from Buffalo General Hospital on Thursday and was flown to Fort Lauderdale on Friday, now resting up in the comfort of home.

Bucky Gleason of The Buffalo News caught up with the Zednik family before they left Buffalo and wrote a very good, detailed story. It's already being linked to by various news services, but thought everyone here would want to read the original. And I'm sure Bucky appreciates the hits.

Anyway, great news on the Zednik front, sure he's going to speak to the South Florida media soon. Sounds like he's doing great and is ready to get back to his normal life.

Here's the Buffalo News story: Richard Zednik A-OK

Obviously there has been some confusion about Richard's whereabouts. Yesterday, the Panthers told me he was expected to be released from the hospital and would likely fly home sometime today. Of course, when I was told that, Richard was already on a plane heading south. Just figured I needed to explain why my notebook read that Richard would be flying home Saturday, when, he was already there.

Anywho...

Richard put out another statement through the team on Saturday. Here it is:

“It is great to return home to South Florida. I would personally like to thank our head athletic trainer David Zenobi, Buffalo medical director Dr. Bisson, Buffalo General Hospital’s medical staff including Dr. Noor, Dr. Curl and Dr. McCormack all who acted quickly to ensure that I received the best care and treatment  Additionally, my heart felt thanks goes out to the entire staff at Buffalo General Hospital, Mr. Alan Cohen and the entire Florida Panthers organization, the Buffalo Sabres organization, HSBC Arena personnel and the Buffalo community who made this challenging time in my life manageable for my wife, Jessica and I.”

“Words cannot express the sincere appreciation that I have for the outpouring of support that my family and I have received during this difficult time. I would like to thank my teammates, our fans, as well as hockey fans from around the world for their kind thoughts and words, which undoubtedly helped me persevere and recover from the incident that occurred last Sunday night. I would also like to express my gratitude for the overwhelming support and get well wishes that I received from everyone in my native country of Slovakia. I want everyone to know that I am recovering and feeling well and hope to return to the ice as soon as I feel medically fit.”

February 15, 2008

Mr. Boh knows Hockey

MrbohThat picture to the left is a cartoon character named Mr. Boh. He is the former mascot of a beer called National Bohemian. It was brewed in Baltimore and supposedly nasty.

But, back in the good old pre-The Wire days of Baltimore, folks took pride in their cheap suds. Mr. Boh and his friends adorned ads throughout the city, and was a big corporate sponsor of the Colts, Orioles, Bullets and everyone else.

Neonboh Now, he's just the unofficial mascot of the city. A neon Mr. Boh sits atop a building on the outskirts of downtown, kind of looking down on the city. A Moon over Charm City, if you will.

Why am I bringing this up? Just felt like it. And I had a Mr. Boh image on my computer just sitting around doing nothing.

Kind of like me right now. Seriously, five paragraphs and counting on this nonsense? Impressive.

-- Fans of Jay Bouwmeester might want to start wearing their own Boh gear. Get it here at Mr. Boh is Cool to Me

If you do start wearing Boh apparel to support your favorite Florida defenseman, people are going to ask you the Mr. Boh story. Feel free to point them here.

-- Believe it or not, Baltimore is one of my favorite towns. Always have a good time.

-- New fan poll at TSN.com/nhl asking which team is going to win the Southeast Division. Last I saw, Capitals were running away with it, getting 69 percent of the vote. Guess who's running last? Well, it ain't Mr. Boh, that's for sure. Florida has just 3 percent. Not a lot of faith the Everglades Cats, eh?

-- Good to see Zach Thomas back at the Dolphins facility today, might be last time he's there for a while. But he'll be back soon enough. The team eventually is going to sign him to a one-day contract, let him retire a Dolphin. And they'll do it in Davie.

ACTUAL HOCKEY UPDATE -- ACTUAL HOCKEY UPDATE -- ACTUAL HOCKEY UPDATE

-- Watching warmups here at the Big Bank in Sunrise; Tomas Vokoun is on the ice, starts tonight.

-- Bad news for hockey fans: Mick McGeough officiating again tonight. Get ready for plenty of phantom calls for both teams.

-- Was at Target today, broke down and bought the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jackson's Thriller. Why? Because as I looked at the CD, I realized I didn't have one of the greatest albums of all-time in my collection. And this one offered a bunch of extras, which I rarely turn down.

And it was on sale for $9.99. Beat that, Wal-Mart.

-- Also, Target has the best tangerines in the area. Trust me, I've tried them all.

-- Speaking of 80s music, guess what was blaring in the locker room today? You'll never guess, so I'll give it to ya. Africa, by Toto. Well, it was the Jay Z. vs. Toto mash, but it was still Toto.

And it was still kickin!

-- The fourth line starts tonight. The lineup: David Brine, Tanner Glass and Steve Montador.

-- Good to have Olesz back, no?

Beltway Friday

BaltimoreGreetings and salutations to all my friends who have escaped the chill of Baltimore and are enjoying a sunny South Florida afternoon at Orioles spring training in Fort Lauderdale.

Good to have you all back, hope you stick around a few more springs.

There could be a decent amount of DC/Baltimore folks in the building tonight, so if you hear someone yell "O's!" during the Star-Spangled Banner, well, don't be shocked.

-- Big news out of practice is Stephen Weiss practiced and declared himself ready to play. Says the flu sapped his strength, and he didn't play Wednesday because he felt he would be a detrement to the team. "Didn't want to take away a healthy body,'' he said. Stefan Meyer sent back to the minors as a result. And yes, Rostislav Olesz is in as well.

-- Word is, Richard Zednik is going to be released from the hospital tomorrow and will fly back to South Florida. "That's the best news we've heard around here this year,'' Weiss said.

-- Tomas Vokoun didn't practice today, but JM says it was a simple day off is all. We'll see. Vokoun never takes a day off...

-- Tom Poti isn't expected to play for the Caps tonight, injured his knee in the last game out.

-- Speaking of knees, sorry to hear about Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour. Out for the season, needs to have reconstructive surgery after last night's game.

February 14, 2008

The Pride of Buffalo

WingsSeems like the good folks of western New York are taking good care of our boy Richard Zednik, with kids from local schools delivering cards and best wishes.

On Wednesday, Richard said he wanted some of Buffalo's famous wings for dinner, the hospital called a place called Picasso's Pizza.

They delivered -- free of cost -- enough wings to feed the Zednik family as well as the entire nursing staff. I've never tried Picasso's, but will on my next return to Buffalo.

Here's their website, maybe they deliver to South Florida: I didn't get wings on my last trip to Buffalo :( Figure a good deed deserves a free plug. Here's to Picassos!

-- They have chicken wing pizza at Picassos. That seals the deal. I'm definitely visiting next time. I may even make a special trip.

-- The Panthers expect Richard and his entourage to leave Buffalo General anytime now. He's expected to be home by the weekend.

-- Update from practice: Stephen Weiss missed his third straight day with the flu. JM says he's questionable for tomorrow's game against the Caps.

-- Rostislav Olesz back in the game tomorrow. Says he's ready to come back.




February 13, 2008

Wednesday Night Hockey

Watching warm-ups right now. Looks like Carey Price is in net for the Habs, no real surprise there since Cristobal Huet (best name in hockey IMHO) played -- and lost -- last night in Tampa.

The big news for Florida fans is the lack of one Stephen Weiss. Sick with the flu the past couple of days, Weiss is conspicuously absent from the skate and thereby not in the lineup tonight.

This lineup is a mess, plain and simple.

Tomas Vokoun might have to steal this one....


Tuesday's Update

Know this is more of the same, but this is the story I wrote for MiamiHerald.com today. Since it takes a while to get these stories up, I figured I would post it here as well.

 

BY GEORGE RICHARDS

grichards@MiamiHerald.com

 

  Jessica Zednik, wife of injured Panthers' winger Richard Zednik, released a statement Wednesday thanking everyone involved for their help and saying Richard "continues to improve and we are encouraged each day."

Richard Zednik had his carotid artery severed by the skate of teammate Olli Jokinen in a freak accident during the third period of a game against the Buffalo Sabres. Zednik underwent emergency surgery at Buffalo General Hospital where he is currently staying. Zednik is expected to be released in the coming days.

   

"On behalf of Richard and our entire family, I want to thank the fans, his teammates, the Panthers and Sabres organizations, plus so many others for their prayers and well wishes," Jessica Zednik wrote.

"I especially want to thank the medical staff involved in his care and the Buffalo General Hospital for their tremendous support during this difficult time. Richard continues to improve and we are encouraged each day.

"We thank you for respecting our privacy and would ask everyone to continue to keep Richard in their thoughts over the next few days."

   

The Panthers play host to Montreal -- a team Zednik spent parts of five seasons with -- Wednesday night at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise. The team will provide a large get-well banner for fans to sign that will be delivered to the Zednik's home in western Broward County.

 

According to the team, more than 15,000 fans have left messages for Zednik electronically at floridapanthers.com.

 

(*) The Panthers called up winger Rob Globke to take Zednik's roster spot on Tuesday, and on Wednesday had to recall center Stefan Meyer from the minors. Center Stephen Weiss missed the past two days of practice, although coach Jacques Martin said Weiss could still play Wednesday night against the Canadiens.

The Panthers lead the league in man-games lost to injuries at 263 coming into Wednesday's game. The Chicago Blackhawks are second at 241. Florida currently has seven players on the disabled list -- not including Weiss -- and expect to welcome back Rostislav Olesz (hand) on Friday.

Statement from Jessica Zednik

Just got this from the Panthers' PR department and felt I should pass along:

"On behalf of Richard and our entire family, I want to thank the fans, his teammates, the Panthers and Sabres organizations, plus so many others for their prayers and well wishes,'' Jessica Zednik said.

"I especially want to thank the medical staff involved in his care and the Buffalo General Hospital for their tremendous support during this difficult time. Richard continues to improve and we are encouraged each day.  We thank you for respecting our privacy and would ask everyone to continue to keep Richard in their thoughts over the next few days.”

Sonya Noor, M.D., Richard Zednik’s attending surgeon, said he continues to improve and should be discharged over the next 48-72 hours. 

Getting Back to Normal

Marty_1 Just another regular day at the Big Bank in Sunrise this morning for the Panthers' pregame skate, except for the rare appearences of television cameras and local television sports' hosts hanging around.

No, it was good to see so many people out and about today. Did something out of the ordinary happen?

Actually, once we got the Richard Zednik questions out of the way, the TV guys actually wanted to talk hockey, and the Panthers were more than fine with that. This team wants desperately to move on from the events of Sunday, and playing tonight against the tri-colors of Montreal will help them along.

Of course, the team the Panthers field may look more like the AHL Rochester Americans, but whatever.

-- No new update on Richard. JM says he's going to try and call him today. JM added that trainer Dave Zenobi has spoken with him, and his spirits are up. JM added that Richard's wife and her sisters are with him in Buffalo, and all I could think about was Marge Simpson and her sisters Patty and Selma. Don't know why, either.

I'm sure Richard is ready to get out of dodge, but he does need his rest. Sure he'll be happy to see South Florida again.

-- Stephen Weiss missed practice for the second straight day, but JM will not rule him out for tonight. That's how hurt the Panthers are. Usually, if a guy misses two days -- including the skate -- he's out. Not in this case. If Stephen feels up to playing, he's in. The loss of Richard has already altered the first line, don't need the new scoring line messed with in any way.

Just in case, Stefan Meyer is on his way down. Or up. Whatever.

- Spoke to Rob Globke this morning. Says he's real happy to be getting a second chance with the Panthers, although he hates at how it came about. Says he was in a slump all season, perhaps due to his disappointment with being sent back four games into the NHL season combined with the poor play of the Americans. But he notes he's been playing better and hopes to make the most of this chance. Hope so. I like Rob, he's a good dude. Let's see what happens.

-- Don't forget to sign the banner for Richard today at the stage area right inside the arena's main entrance. The custom jersey signing I mentioned the other day will be held Friday. More info on that coming tomorrow or Friday. There's time.

February 12, 2008

In a Giving Mood?

The Panthers are partnering up with the Florida Blood Centers and holding a blood drive before Wednesday's game against the Canadiens.

The blood drive goes from 4:30-8, just outside the arena.

Tuesday Report

Large crowd of media at today's practice in Coral Springs, so many we had to move to the upstairs meeting room at Incredible Ice.

A few new updates on Richard Zednik; he's been upgraded to good condition and it appears he'll be coming home this week.

JM says the 6-8 weeks for Zednik isn't written in stone, wouldn't say he's out for the season. We'll just wait and see.

Ville Peltonen takes Richard's place on the Olli line; so it's Olli centering Ville and Brett McLean. Rob Globke, called up yesterday, pops onto the third line replacing Peltonen. Talked to Ville, he said there's a little pressure on him to keep up Richard's red-hot offensive play, and he says he's going to try and keep that going.

Rostislav Olesz participated in the full workout but isn't expected to play tomorrow. Martin says he should be back on Friday against the Capitals.

February 11, 2008

Monday Night Zednik

Back in South Florida, been busy working and getting things back to normal. Been a long week, a long 24 hours.

Anyway, I have some updates regarding Richard. Some of this was posted at MiamiHerald.com earlier, some not.

-- Richard will likely remain at Buffalo General for a few days, they say he has to start eating regularly before they can let him go.

-- He is obviously lucky more damage wasn't done to his arteries and nerves -- and his jugular vein -- when he was struck in the neck by Olli's skate. The doctors said they were able to repair his carotid vein because is wasn't completely severed.

-- He asked when he could get back on the ice. He was told "next season.'' Doctors said today he can't do anything for six to eight weeks. But he's a hockey player. We'll see. As JM said, we'll know more at the end of the week.

-- Will update more tomorrow after the practice at Incredible Ice. Sure to be a media circus. For now, though, I'm signing off. Good night y'all.

-- Oh wait. Why is it oranges are cheaper in Canada and in Boston than they are in Sunrise, Florida? Do we have a special citrus tax I didn't know about?

-- A few of you have let me know about cards, letters, jerseys and stuff to be signed. Keep 'em coming. Will post everything here and will probably have something in my main notebook for Wednesday's paper.

Monday Morning Update

This is what I posted online, although it takes time to get things rolling in the morning. More updates as they come today of course.

BY GEORGE RICHARDS
grichards@MiamiHerald.com

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Richard Zednik of the Florida Panthers continues to recover from a gruesome neck injury suffered Sunday night in a game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Randy Sexton, the team’s assistant general manager, said he was at Buffalo General Hospital until 3:30 a.m. on Monday. When reached later Monday morning, Sexton said Zednik remains in stable condition, with all signs pointing toward recovery.

“He was stable, he seems to be responsive to everything they’ve done,’’ Sexton said. “We’re all confident he’ll be ok. All the tests are positive. So far so good.’’

Sexton added he didn’t think Zednik would be released from the hospital on Monday. The hospital is expected to hold a news conference early Monday afternoon.

Jessica Zednik, Richard’s wife, arrived in Buffalo late Sunday night on a private jet.

Richard Zednik was injured when he was struck in the neck by the skate of teammate Olli Jokinen in the third period of Sunday’s eventual 5-3 loss to the host Sabres. Zednik was rushed to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

The team returned to South Florida following the game and will take Monday off. The Panthers return to practice Tuesday morning in Coral Springs in preparation for Wednesday’s game against Montreal – a team Zednik spent five seasons with from 2001-06.

 

Richard Zednik Aftermath

BUFFALO -- Just got back to the hotel, my fingers have defrosted from the cold winters night.

Will have more of an update on Richard Zednik's condition in the morning; everything I know is on the post below. I'm sure Richard and his family appreciate the outpouring of support coming from his online fans. I know he doesn't know many of you personally, but I would venture he'll be touched so many people care.

Like I said in the previous post, feel free to leave your thoughts and best wishes in the comments section (go below), I'll get them to him.

Gus (pb1300 from the HF boards) says he's going to have a giant card at Wednesday's game against Richard's former team -- the Canadiens. He says he'll be outside the season ticket holder's entrance with it, inviting all to come and sign it.

We'll make sure that too, gets to Richard.

Some have asked what Richard's hockey future holds. I have no clue. That will come later. I don't think the Panthers are worried about that, although there are some who probably do. JM for one. He has to make some kind of a move for his week unless Rostislav is ready to go -- which he probably isn't. Richard should be able to heal up and do what he has to do. It's too early to speculate when he'll be coming back. Let the man get better. An injury like this can be harmful mentally as much as physically.

Also, I would think fans need to be worried about captain Olli Jokinen. He was emotionally drained tonight, even throwing some F-bombs at television reporters who asked a sensitive -- in light of this current event -- question. It wasn't that bad a question. It was just the heat of the moment, and was asked by someone Olli didn't know.

Olli and Richard are friends, and this is something Olli isn't going to forget anytime soon. This was in no way his fault, but his name has to be attached to it, so some people will assess blame. Some people always do.

-- The Buffalo fans showed a lot of class tonight, obviously many still remember the Clint Malarchuk incident from 1989 at the old Aud. Clint also lost a lot of blood after getting hit in the neck with a skate, and people here still talk about that. To have that much blood on Buffalo ice brought back some bad memories. The Buffalo fans were obviously in shock, and gave the teams a standing ovation when they came onto the ice. An even bigger ovation came when they announced that Richard was in stable condition.

Sure, some of them were Bills fans. But they were still classy. Just kidding.

-- Also, solid job by the Buffalo team doctors and by the quick actions of Florida trainer Dave 'Z' Zenobi. Dave was quick to apply pressure to Zednik's neck with a towel and get Richard into the locker room. The paramedics at the arena were also quick to the scene.

February 10, 2008

ZEDNIK UPDATE

Hello all, sorry I haven't updated as I know many of you are emotionally tied to this. Here's what I know at 10:22 p.m.:

Zednik is out of surgery at Buffalo General; team says he is resting comfortably.

The team is on its way out of Buffalo right now, team trainer Dave Zenobi and assistant GM Randy Sexton staying behind with Richard.

Miami Air, the team's charter company, has arraigned to fly Richard's wife Jessica up to Buffalo to be with him. They hope to get her up here tonight. The winds and weather is brutal here, the airport closed to commercial traffic.

If I get anything else, will let you know.

Also, updates as they come available on our website at MiamiHerald.com

Feel free to leave wishes and regards for Richard there on the comments section. You can leave them here too. I will make sure to print them up and get them to him in the coming days.

Obviously a very scary moment for all of us here, and you all back home watching. Richard is a cool guy, one who is very much liked in that room. The guys are shaken up, that's for sure.

People around this team aren't going to forget tonight anytime soon.

Regards -- George

A Frozen Tundra (OK, an Impala)

FrozenimpalaBUFFALO -- That's my rental car from earlier today, a fire engine red Chevy Impala SS.

Shame it doesn't have tire chains on it.

US Air all but left me stranded in Syracuse, N.Y. today, diverting our flight for "fuel" before quickly canceling it. Meanwhile, flights were leaving and landing in Buffalo, the place I paid a lot of money to fly to. Anyway, US Air promised a bus ride to Buffalo, but I don't believe anything they say, something that has served me well over the years.

Except maybe this time. I rented a car, figured it would be an easy ride across I-90. Not so much. As soon as I pulled out of the airport an all-out blizzard hit. Before today, I thought white out conditions had something to do with people wearing white T-shirts to Heat playoff games.

Wings Finally made it to Buffalo, have yet to try some wings, but thanks to a 6 p.m. kickoff, when we get out of here the night will still be young.

-- Speaking of balmy weather, it's currently 2 degrees FAHRENHEIT in Buffalo right now. You get that? Two degrees. Don't even get me going on the 40 mph winds. Wind chill right now: Minus-15.

-- Who is this guy wearing the No. 2 Florida sweater and what did he do with Branislav Mezei? Three points in two nights? He is off the charts.

-- By the way, this Impala is tight. Unless you care about stuff like gas mileage. Which, on this trip, I don't. Just so you know, this is the wrong time to be talking to this guy about global warming.

-- Panthers taking tomorrow off (unless US Air diverts their plane to Batavia) and return to Incredible Ice on Tuesday.

February 09, 2008

Baseball and Beantown

SpringtrainingBOSTON -- Sitting up here in cold and gloomy Boston where one of the lead stories on the local news today was how the Red Sox loaded up their equipment truck and sent it on its way south toward Fort Myers.

Only a few more days 'til pitchers and catchers report.

On Frozen Pond has been in hibernation the past few days, bad travel and nothing much to say prompting the shutdown. I assure you, I'm back on.

The mood up here in Boston is pretty good. Was just on NESN, the network that covers the Bruins, and was asked about the sports landscape in Miami as opposed to Boston. We sure don't have much. As I said, the Heat stink, the Marlins continue to rebuild, the Panthers are trying to hang on in the worst division in their league and the Orange Bowl is about to be torn down.

But we still got the '72 Dolphins.

Not a popular answer around these parts.

-- If you are watching on TV, you know Tomas Vokoun is back in net tonight (there was a thought Craig Anderson was going to go) and Ville Peltonen has made his grand return.

-- Talked to Alex Auld before today's game. He's doing well up here, says the biggest thing he learned from last year is how to accept your role. He's Tim Thomas' backup right now, and he seems fine with it. He earned a huge shootout win Friday night in Buffalo.

-- Latest from JM: If all goes well, Mike Van Ryn could be back in about a month. Also, he hopes to see Rostislav Olesz skating when the team returns from its chilly foray into the Great White North, with Mr. Rusty possibly back in the lineup by next weekend.

-- Anthony Stewart was sent back to Rochester, or did that go without saying? Sure he'll be back next week.

February 06, 2008

Killing Some Time

SimpsonspizzaOTTAWA -- Usually after practice, players bum rush to the buses or hit the streets looking for a cab. The quicker you get out of the arena, the thought being, the quicker you can get to doing something fun.

No one was rushing out of Kanata's Scotiabank Place Wednesday afternoon. No, the Panthers were content to hang out eating pizza delivered to them courtesy of Andy O'Brien and Mike Dixon.

This is noteworthy for perhaps two things. One, the team appears to be reveling in their newfound success and are enjoying each other's company. Which is never a bad thing. But it's probably closer to the fact there is so little to do out here, the guys figure they might as well get their eat on at the arena instead of being cooped up in their hotel rooms. If these guys don't have their focus on hockey here, they never will.

Me, I decided to ditch the suburbs and head to downtown Ottawa. Already have been roaming the streets, hit a local market for some oranges and a Diet Dr. Pepper before hitting Tim Horton's for a load of coffee to take home.

At least I'm having fun.

-- Yes, I consider that having fun. So sue me.

-- Good pal Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun tells me Daniel Alfredsson is out tomorrow, but -- bad news Panther fans -- Dany Heatley will play.

-- I am so glad I don't have to deal with all the national signing day stuff today, although I've been checking our stuff out on MiamiHerald.com all day. Good job guys. Been kicking it old school today Alex, Andre, Manny, Joe and Bobby....

-- If you never take my advice on anything else, heed this warning: Stay away from any of the Diet Dr. Peppers offering some kind of cherry flavoring. Awful, plain and simple. Regular Diet Dr. Pepper, very good. Diet Dr. Pepper with the acidy cherry flavoring, wastewater.

-- More good news: The Duke-UNC basketball game will indeed be shown up here in Canada. I was worried. The Score network is picking up the ESPN2 feed. Got some hockey, some college hoops going on. Should be an action packed evening.

Snowed Over

Snow_2 TORONTO -- Greetings from wintertown, where it snowed so hard here last night I looked out the window of my hotel and thought it was fake. Seriously, the flakes were so thick it looked like someone was dumping clumps of feathers. But it was snow.

And now my flight is delayed. Such is life.

Farley The Panthers should have stuck around T-town a little longer, perhaps celebrated their big win over the Leaves at least for a moment or two. Instead the team trudged on to Ottawa, which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't Ottawa.

The team stays out in the sticks, and there isn't much to do once the sun goes down. Maybe Murf the Surf knows of some late night fun in Kanata -- cow tipping anyone? -- but that too is doubtful.

Torontosun -- The local media is not afraid to pile on the Leafs in their time of woe and sorrow. Neither are their fans. The folks who stuck around for last night's game took much joy in booing Vesa Toskala after he gave up Florida's fourth goal, then really let Andrew Raycroft have it as he skated into place.

When the Panthers started tearing it up in the third, Raycroft even received mock cheers. There were still people in the building at 7-0, but once Florida made it 8-0, the floodgates opened and the arena emptied out.

Hey, if you laid out the kind of dough it takes to see the Leafs here, you would have stuck it out as well.

Pantherleaf -- Mats Sundin through the Toronto Star: "Everyone who wore our sweater tonight should be ashamed.'' Yikes. Last night's debacle is only fueling more trade rumors surrounding the Leafs' captain. Word I'm getting is that he isn't waiving his no-trade. We'll see. Toronto is in sunny South Florida at the trade deadline, so that could be fun.

-- Talk about getting pummeled, the Panthers are running into an Ottawa team that's anything but red hot. The Sens lost to Montreal last night and their lead in the Northeast is down to a single point. Without Heatley and Alfredsson, the Sens are a shell of their former selves. This is a huge opportunity for the Panthers to escape Kanata with a W.

-- PS: One of the nicknames for the Leafs is 'Buds.' Weak, I know....

-- Flight's delayed another hour! Yippee! It's 10 a.m. If anyone wants to do a live chat on the comment board, feel free to leave question and I'll answer as long as I'm here in TO...

Shaqcop -- Sad day in South Florida if the Shaq deal indeed goes down. Sure, the trade makes a lot of sense to the Heat, but our region loses a bunch when the Big Fella heads west. I mean, hey, I'm not paying the $20 million it takes to keep him around...

-- Count me in as a guy who's going to miss Bobby Knight. See you at Cardinals camp, General...

February 05, 2008

Aloha means Hello and Goodbye

 

Mrhand TORONTO - So, let's try and get this straight.

Anthony Stewart gets called up again, this is his eighth call-up of the season.

Jozef Stumpel's shoulder is a mess, he's out the next four to six weeks (so he and Radek Dvorak should be coming back around the same time).

-- Ville Peltonen won't play tonight, JM says they are hoping he goes this weekend, guessing the Boston game.

-- Steve Montador back playing up front, was working with the forwards today.

-- Olli and JM faced the trade-crazed Toronto media this morning, nothing new said. JM said it isn't fair to say Mats Sundin and Olli are comparable as far as trade talks go. Not only does Mats have an expiring contract and Olli has two-plus years left, but JM says Olli  is a player in his prime, Mats at the end of his career. Didn't hear many questions after that.

When asked about a possible rift, Olli says he and JM get along fine, both guys respect each other, Olli says he doesn't want to go anywhere, says he wants to win in Florida. He added the fans in South Florida deserve playoff hockey, and he and the Panthers are going to try and make that a reality.