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48 posts from February 2008

February 04, 2008

True Miami Heat


Miamifire TORONTO - From the stuff y'all only get here file....

The Panthers were delayed getting to their downtown hotel Monday night because their official team bus caught fire.

Yep, the fire department was called and everything.

Luckily, the Panthers have a second bus for media-types (not this guy). That second bus came back and picked everyone up.

The press comes throught with a glove save - and a beauty!

No one was hurt, nothing destroyed.

Life in Canada

JacquessimpsonTORONTO -- Hanging out here in chilly Toronto, watching some TV. The duct tape show is over, yet I am still entertained. Why? One of the greatest clip episode shows ever -- The Simpsons' Romance episode -- is now showing.

It has everything regarding Simpsons' love -- Jacques and Marge bowling, Homer's 'affair' and the classic Ralph Wiggum 'Choo-choo-choo-choose me,' Grandpa romances Marge's mom, etc. -- all tied into one episode.

Good stuff indeed. Glad I made the trip just for that reason.

Why am I writing about this? Because I actually have more news (injury stuff from Monday morning's practice in the previous post).

Stefan Meyer has been sent back to Rochester. He was called up late Friday night, then was a healthy scratch on Saturday against the Bolts. So, David Brine either plays tomorrow against the Leaves or Ville Peltonen gets in. Or, Florida plays eight defensemen and lets Magnum play again. He's sat the past three...

-- Joe Goodman, our Gators writer, joined me in Tampa for Saturday's game. Did a real nice job writing about Brine. Solid stuff here folks. If you haven't seen it, check it here: Did you make the cut?

-- It's South Florida week here in Toronto. The Raptors play the Miami Sr. High Heat tonight, with the Panthers playing the main tenant at Air Canada Center Tuesday.

-- Arrested Development just came on. I may never leave this hotel room.

More Bad News

Bears TERMINAL C, CHARLOTTE-DOUGLAS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, N.C. -- Blogging live from Charlotte, chilling in the airport waiting for my connecting flight to Toronto. Which is in Canada, for those of you who don't know.

Just got off the phone with Patrick Dorsey, your Herald beat writer today.

According to JM, Radek Dvorak has two broken bones in his hand, will be out four to six weeks. I spoke to Radek after Saturday's game, he was optimistic he was going to be OK. Apparently that's not the case.

No update on Jozef Stumpel and his troublesome right shoulder. JM said Saturday there was "slight separation" and Jozef is due to see a doctor today or tomorrow. He is not making the trip north, obviously.

Some good news though as it appears Ville Peltonen is good to go. He will be making the trip, although JM says he won't play Tuesday against the Leafs. Which means he probably will. Ville has been practicing since Thursday, so if he feels like he's in game shape, I figure he's in. The Panthers really don't have too many options here.

-- Did Mercury Morris really say to be undefeated, you have to win all your games? Seriously? That's classic stuff.

-- Funny, the only guy on Fox to predict the Giants' victory was Frank Caliendo. Solid job Frankie.

-- Congrats to Goldie for his Giants getting the big win. Goldie is a huge Giants fan and he was pretty happy last night.

Shula -- As was I. Solid job, genius.

-- Just got to Toronto. It's gray, cloudy and cold. Snow on the ground too.

And the duct-tape show is on. So there's that.

February 02, 2008

Red Carpet Debut

JolieTAMPA -- David Brine gets the call to replace Jozef Stumpel, and it's the NHL debut for the 23-year-old who has jumped some real obstacles to get to this point.

Good for him. Hope all the folks in Nova Scotia are tuned in (yes, I know Nova Scotia is quite large).

-- Brine is sporting No. 45, only the third player to do so in Florida's illustrious history. The others? Take a guess.

-- Good news for Panthers is David Booth is good to go. And that's bad news for Stefan Meyer, who joins Magnum Johansson in the press box as a healthy scratch.

-- Stumpel has a slight separation of his shoulder, JM says. We'll know more Monday.

-- Tomas Vokoun in net tonight to no one's surprise.

-- If you guessed Rhett Warrener and Brad Ference are the only other Panthers to wear No. 45, you're right! Give yourself something special as a reward.

Stumpel Out

Driving across the alley, got some news...jozef Stumpel did not make trip to tampa...david booth did and is questionable for tonight...

Injuries Mount


Booth It appears Jozef Stumpel and David Booth are hurting something fierce.

In the wee hours of the night, the Panthers have called up Stefan Meyer and David Brine for  Saturday's game against the Bolts.

Stumpel may have re-injured his shoulder, he went hard into the boards in the third and was noticeably hurt. Stumpel gets a lot of grief from people, but he played real hard Friday night, was getting real physical with what has to be a very sore shoulder. Don't know the extent of his injury, but will update once I talk to JM up in Tampa.

Booth came back from his sprawl out when he took the net out and crashed into the boards (why that wasn't a penalty, I still don't know). But Booth didn't go in overtime, and I didn't see him in the postgame workout.

I am only assuming it is these two that are hurt. I have gotten nothing official from the Panthers. Again, will update when I know more, probably around 6 p.m. Tampa time. Which is different from Tulsa time, but pretty close to Miami time.

Brine -- If David Brine plays, he would make his NHL debut. Little info on David: Brine is a 23-year-old center from Nova Scotia (home of Sidney Crosby) and he has spent this entire season with the Rochester Americans, scoring seven goals with eight assists. He split time with the Estero Everblades and the Amerks last season. He went undrafted, and if I recall, the Panthers gave him a tryout at one of their rookie camps and liked what they saw so they offered him a contract.

-- All I know is the Panthers don't need to be without Booth for an extended period of time (and they may not be. He could be good to go by tonight.) Booth has given the Panthers tons of energy and that Weiss-Horton-Booth line is really getting some good looks.

Pantherparty -- That game was fun last night, eh? Good seeing the emotion come out of these guys for most of the game anyway. Good to see that kind of energy come out of Olli, too. He was fired up. Need to see more of that out of these guys.

-- Some asked me why I posted last week's Alyssa Milano All-Star pic on this original post earlier this morning. Here's a little clue into how this blog thing works for me. I can blog on my cellphone, but to post pics on a cellphone post, I have to use whatever photos are on the phone at the time. And everyone knows how I like putting photos up.

Milano1 So when you see some random pic, perhaps a shot of my niece Annie or me and my friends tailgating, you know I filed from the cellphone. You'll probably just get the Milano pics again. No one complains about those.

Now I'm on my laptop, so I can customize the pics again.

-- Also, an update on my "Clean the Glass" post. Was told last night that work crews clean the Plexiglas before every game. I don't know how the glass got so funky so quickly then. I didn't go downstairs last night, so I don't know. I do know that the floors haven't been pressure cleaned or - gasp! -- painted in a decade. It's gross down there.

Manilooney -- And kudos to whomever decided to bring down the leering Barry Manilow face off the boards. I hope the players complained. It was creepy looking. And why was Barry Manilow's stretched out mug on the boards at a hockey arena in the first place?

I still think the Mani-leer was one of the reasons Tomas Vokoun misplayed that puck against Edmonton. He was freaked out, trying to play the puck with that staring back at him. I don't blame Tomas for that. Not one bit. I would have been creeped out too.

-- OK, that's enough for one morning. Off to Tampa. Hope to see some alligators along the way.

February 01, 2008

Sunshine State of the Panthers

Bush_4 The Big Bank in Sunrise is going to be spinning like a dradle this evening as the Panthers welcome their season ticket holders for a "State of the Franchise" meeting.

Michael Yormark will be there representing the business side of things, assistant GM Randy Sexton answering the hockey questions.

I've been told the media is not allowed to attend. That's fine. I've heard it all before anyway. Don't think anything is going to surprise Groundhog_2 me, but if anyone wants to let me know what is said, feel free to email me afterward and we can chat. And those who want to record the session and let me listen to it, well, that would be great too.

Because there's a game tonight, JM won't be speaking to the gathered throng. Today, after practice, I asked him what his comments to fans would be, and why he thinks the franchise is headed in the right direction when, realistically, Florida is a mere two points from being the worst team in the Eastern Conference, and aren't too far from the L.A. Kings.

Here's what Jacques had to say today:

What message would you give the fans knowing that this season has -- up to now -- been a disappointment?

Jacques_2 "The uncontrollable this year has been the number of injuries we've had. When you look at our defense, it's been depleted for an extended period of time. I think we look where we're at compared to other years, we're slightly ahead. We still have a good opportunity to get into the playoffs.

"You have to be honest with the fans. Sure, there are some people who have been disappointments, certain players we were counting on to give us more. But, the important thing is to stay the course. We feel good about some of our kids playing in junior coming up. We're going to have a class of seven coming out that have a good chance of being part of the Panthers -- if not next year, in future years.

"i think a lot of the things we've done, since last season, we had a goaltender need. We rectified that with Tomas. In the offseason we addressed speed by getting guys like Dvorak and Zednik. We just have to continue to build and identify where we need to be better.''

How disappointed have you personally been with this season?

"I'm disappointed for sure, but I think it's still in our grasp. We have 30 games remaining. As I said before, our defensive core, when you look at what we started the season with ... the fact we wee hit there pretty hard. Those guys move the puck and that makes it difficult. But you don't control that. We have to be better in the last 30 games.


On tonight's game against the Fighting Luongos

"What you have is two teams on the outside, trying to gain some ground. What's important for us is to have some desperation, win the hockey game. This is our last game at home before we go on the road for five, so it's important we go out and play with determination."

Thoughts on playing Mr. Luongo

"I think you face top goalies like Martin Brodeur and such; we have to get pucks at the net. Get rebounds and put a lot of rubber up there.''

Louie2_2 On the reception Roberto should get tonight/his legacy in FLA

"He was an impact player on this franchise, I think he was an individual as a goaltender that was one of the better ones in the league. For sure, he left a lot of memories here.''

Does time heal all wounds?

"You turn the page. those things happen in sports. We're looking forward to improving our hockey club. It should be a great battle tonight.''

What do remember most about your time with Roberto here?

"He's a great athlete. I had him here, had him [with Team Canada] at the World Cup, the Olympics. He's an individual that's a great competitor.''

Clean the Glass AKA Scrub the Ground

Remember the scene in 'My Cousin Vinny' when Joe Pesci is grilling the guy on the stand about his 'eye witness' testimony?

The gist if it was, there is no way the guy could positively ID the guys who robbed the Sack-n-Suds because of all the stuff in front of his view.

"What is that brown stuff on your window?" Vinny Gambini asks. "Dirt,'' is the reply.

Well, I'm currently in section 133 watching Cancuks practice. Great seats, the so-called money seats. And it is absolutely disgusting down here.

There is slime on the armrests, schmutz on the chairbacks, and how anyone can watch a game through the crud on the glass is beyond me (can you see the streaks of mung on the above photo? Sorry about the quality, the cellphone camera only does so much.)

There are panes of glass that look like they haven't been cleaned since this place was named after a rental car company that I really enjoy using.

Seriously, it looks like someone puked on the glass. Five years ago. How hard is it to get a cleaning crew to take care of the little things in this arena? I travel to many an arena and see people cleaning the glass, painting, pressure cleaning, heck, even sweeping. Every single time.

Not here though. It's just a shame how this beautiful arena has been run into the ground. Not only has the ambiance been killed by the uncountable ads placed everywhere but the rafters, but if I was ADT, I'd be upset that they don't even clean the ads plastered on the steps.

It's a real shame what this arena has become. It looks a lot more dated than its 10 years.

-- PS: Someone might want to take a pressure cleaner to the arena's roof. Rumor has it, it's supposed to be white, not mildew gray.

-- Speaking of crud, the Dolphins announced they aren't raising season ticket prices. Of course, there is a catch. You have to renew by May to keep prices locked in. What a bargain. At least they've got eight home games this year.

-- Olli practiced today, back in the lineup tonight. Here comes Game No. 347 for Olli.

-- Wondering how many season ticket holders plan to attend this 'State of the Panthers' meeting tonight at 5:30? Randy Sexton and Michael Yormark are running things, JM taking the night off to concentrate on hockey. I have some stuff from JM about the state of the franchise and will post later.

-- Those who do attend, could someone ask Yormark about the dirty condition of the arena for me? I've been to the outdoor circus and it's cleaner than that arena. Thanks.