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Parkland Pride -- Now With More Olli!

ParklandOTTAWA -- Just got back from the prospects lunch here at the Ottawa Marriott, must say I was impressed by the style in which Steven Stamkos handles himself. Seems like the Lightning are getting a kid who gets it.

Going to be seeing a lot of this guy in the coming years in the black-and-blue.

Now, I posted something here last night that I took down after looking it over again. It dealt with the absence of team president Michael Yormark at Monday's press conference introducing coach Pete DeBoer. I felt it was a cheap shot thrown at Michael's way, especially since I had not spoken to him first about the subject. Not going to delve into what I posted last night, but here goes a new version.

Michael told me today that he had a previous engagement on Monday that he couldn't get out of. The press conference was originally scheduled for 11 a.m., but Pete's plane was delayed out of Toronto pushing things back two hours. Michael said he did get there for the tail-end of the presser, although I never saw him.

Would have liked to have been invited to Tuesday's unveiling of this so-called "Captain's Room,'' the deal where fans entered a contest to have a room in their house decorated in all sorts of Florida Panthers paraphernalia with a bunch of Olli Jokinen stuff interspersed.

Olli came back from vacation to attend this ceremony in Parkland, with Michael in attendance as well. I was told Michael greeted his man Olli with a big bear hug, probably just letting him know that Olli is still appreciated by some members of the organization.

I'm going to miss Olli.

I think he's absolutely gone. Olli's done a lot for this organization (though he never should have left the golf tournament early with Nathan Horton) and for hockey in South Florida. The guy never misses a game and, for the most part, is Florida's best player on a nightly basis. He wasn't at the end of this season, but I think a change of scenery will do both good.

I don't think anything is going to happen today, but something may just go down tomorrow. JM is talking to a host of teams, and I'm not about to guess where Olli will land. I think it will be somewhere in the American Midwest, however, and if I was betting in Vegas, would put money on Columbus or Minnesota. See a lot of St. Louis folks chatting up the Panthers, and they could certainly be in the mix as well.

Word out of Minnesota is that Brian Rolston and the Wild are close to a contract agreement, although the Wild are holding off on finalizing things. That's leading to speculation that the Wild are waiting to see if they can score a certain Finnish center from Florida to take that spot on the payroll.

-- This in: Hearing now that Vancouver is heavily in the mix for Mr. Jokinen's services, and may be one of the teams out there willing to match JM's demands to make some noise. Makes sense. Team missed the playoffs last year and have a first-year GM who's trying to make things happen. The Canucks aren't the most talented team out there, and they are missing some late picks because of previous trades.

Olli and Louie in the Pacific Northwest? Could happen. The Panthers West.


-- More rumors: Hearing from many people that Joe Nieuwendyk will be joining the Maple Leafs front office soon after his contract with the Panthers expires on July 1.

The Panthers refused Toronto's request to speak with Joe officially, the Panthers not wanting Joe's knowledge (on the Panthers dime) of the draft working in someone else's favor. But since Joe resigned soon after the season ended and his contract is up, he can do anything he pleases in the coming weeks.

-- Pete DeBoer is here in Ottawa, and saw him chatting up a number of Florida front office folk -- including assistant coach Mike Kitchen. No word on what DeBoer is going to do with the Florida coaching staff yet.