Staying at the Panthers hotel and have already run into a few of the assistant coaches. Pete DeBoer doesn't seem to be here yet (his plane must have been delayed) but the assistants seem eager to speak with him. For obvious reasons.
After landing in Montreal, I phoned up Mark Gandler, Olli's agent, to ask him about the TSN report in which Olli supposedly has asked out of Florida. I doubt Olli would call JM personally for such a thing; he'd let his agent do it. So I asked if it was true. Gandler wouldn't confirm or deny the report, only saying that TSN spoke with neither he nor Olli, and basically told me if he commented on every rumor regarding his client, we'd speak every day.
"Olli's lived under these clouds of rumors for so long it's not a big deal,'' Gandler said. "He's just enjoying the break from hockey with his family right now. When the time comes to get ready for hockey, he'll do so 100 percent."
I asked him if he thought bridges had been burned, Gandler said not necessarily.
"Olli wants to play hockey, and if the Florida Panthers want him to play for them, that's great. He's more than willing to do that,'' Gandler said. "It's up to the Panthers. If they want to trade him away, that's their business. There's nothing we can do about it. Olli is going to play hard for someone next season, that's all I can tell you.''
Should be an interesting couple of days.
-- Well, the Lightning and Oilers have new owners, both groups getting approval from the NHL Board of Governors today. Welcome to the Sunshine State, Mr. Melrose!
-- Speaking of the Bolts, Tampa traded a seventh round pick to regain the rights to winger Vinny Prospal. The former Panther was traded to Philadelphia last season to help in the Flyers playoff push, and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Guess the Bolts figure he'll be happy to re-sign with them because they took a bit of a risk giving up a draft pick just for an exclusive negotiating period. But it's worked before, and it is only a seventh rounder.