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19 posts from August 2008

August 31, 2008

Welcome to South Florida

CondoLabor Day comes Monday and that means the Panthers are one day closer to completing a pretty major trade.

The deal is done, Bryan McCabe already finding a place in South Florida with Mike Van Ryn resigned to the fact he'll be moving north in a few days.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Ryno up in Toronto by the end of the week, working with his new teammates on Canadian ice. Like I've said before, if Mike's right wrist is healed the way he says it is, the Leafs are getting a pretty good player.

As far as the Panthers go, they feel they are getting a very good offensive defensemen in McCabe. If McCabe is healthy -- he only played in 53 games last year because of a broken hand -- he will be a strong addition to the Cats. McCabe contributed 50-plus points for the Leafs in three straight seasons until last year's disaster, one in which he became Toronto's favorite whipping boy.

McCabe won't have those kind of problems here, although if he stinks up the joint, he'll hear it from the home fans who will expect something in return for Van Ryn -- a very popular player here for his work not only on the ice, but off it as well.

The big difference for McCabe will be his lifestyle away from the ice; players like Olli Jokinen or Roberto Luongo were recognized when they went out to dinner or to the mall, but that's because they both had unique looks and were the "faces" of this franchise for so long. Few are the Panthers who are recognized when they go out in the real world.

That means McCabe won't have to deal with distractions off the ice, and should be able to slip in and out of his new favorite places without much fanfare -- whether he's a minus-3 in a 6-2 loss or puts up four points in a 5-1 win.

I could see this change in scenery (changes in latitude, changes in attitude) being very beneficial for Bryan McCabe.

-- Still don't know what else is part of this deal. Still hearing different names being floated, also hearing there may be a draft pick involved. You have to think the Leafs owe the Panthers at least one draft pick after the Chad Kilger deal, dontcha?

Actually, the Leafs and Cliff Fletcher owe Florida nothing over the Kilger fiasco. He left the Leafs to take care of some personal problems and returned to the team, all apparently well. Well, apparently not. There's no evidence the Leafs thought Kilger was going to bolt again; obviously the Panthers didn't think he would either. They never would have made that deal. This is one trade JM would love to have back.

-- Don't forget to vote on your favorite Panthers of all-time. We're closing in on 1,000 votes so far (poll has been up for less than a week and is a few spots down). The top three right now: Roberto Luongo, John Vanbiesbrouck, Pavel Bure. Can't say I'm surprised.

August 28, 2008

Better Get Center Ice..

Tvland ...If you want to watch most of the Panthers games on TV this season, that is.

FSN and Sun announced Thursday they will only broadcast 65 of the team's 82 games this season - down from 70 locally televised games the past three seasons. If you shell out the bucks for the Center Ice package (or just hang out at Quarterdeck), you'll get 79 of the 82 games.

Looking deeper into the schedule, it doesn't look too bad. Like I said, 79 of the 82 will be available somewhere (I'll do LiveBlog! for the ones that aren't) and the games FSN aren't covering make financial sense to them.

For instance, the three games in western Canada (Dec. 11-14) won't be on, and that's probably a cost deal as much as anything else. The flip side of saving that money means Florida fans won't be able to see Mike Keenan, Sam Gagner and Roberto Luongo, unless of course, it's on Center Ice (which I think all three will be).

The local networks also have a number of blackouts because Versus has exclusivity. They can't do anything about that.

But they can't gloss over the fact they are doing fewer games than before -- and that doesn't have anything to do with Versus. It has to do with cold hard dinero, pal. The Fox family of regional broadcasters are cutting back nationwide, and unless you are the only team in the market, you're going to get cut. The truth may be that Fox/Sun are getting too big and cover too much. The Panthers are competing with the Heat, Magic, Lightning, Gators, Seminoles, high school sports and other stuff for television time.

Good thing the Panthers have 65 games as the minimum in their contract or I think folks down here would have been seeing even less of the Cats this season. That said, FSN/Sun does a terrific job of covering this team in my opinion, from the production crew to the talent of Goldie and Denis.

-- One positive of the schedule: All but one game in the opening month will be available to those with basic cable here, with the lone game not done on FSN or Versus available through Center Ice. November and December have more holes, but FSN will cover just about every game during January, February and March.

-- Single game tickets for the first chunk of the season go on sale Saturday. Feel free to visit the Panthers' official site (believe it or not, this ain't the official website) for more information and prices.


Barnes One of the original fan favorites of the Florida Panthers is calling it a career.

Stu Barnes, who played for the Panthers from 1993-96, has decided to retire from the NHL after 16 pretty darned good seasons. Barnes ends his career with the Dallas Stars, and he'll remain in the Metroplex, joining the Stars as an assistant coach.

Many look upon the trade of Barnes to Pittsburgh as the end of the Panthers' joyride through the South Florida sports landscape.

Wells A gritty winger, Barnes was a big part of the Florida squad that, just three years into its existence, made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Then-GM Bryan Murray took a lot of heat when he traded the popular Barnes (along with Jason Woolley) to the Penguins in exchange for Chris Wells just a month into the 1996-97 season.

Bm Call it coincidence, but the Panthers haven't won a single playoff series -- and have won but one playoff game -- since the infamous trade. Cursed? You be the judge.

Now 37, Barnes was originally drafted by Winnipeg with the fourth overall pick in the 1989 draft. Barnes played in over 1,100 NHL games, playing for the Jets, Panthers, Pens, Sabres and Stars. The Panthers originally acquired Barnes early on in their first season in a trade with the Jets.

Barnes scored 49 goals with 72 assists in 191 games with the Panthers. He ends his career with 261 goals and 336 assists.

August 27, 2008

Look Who's Back?

JmThe Panthers announced their roster for rookie camp in Kitchener, Ontario, and it appears the team has a new coach.

According to the press release, Jacques Martin is back as both the team's coach and general manager.

“We are excited to be participating again in our annual Rookie Camp in a great city like Kitchener,” said Panthers General Manager and Head Coach Jacques Martin (they put this in bold, not me). “We have a lot of great young talent this year and this camp gives all four teams a great opportunity to assess their younger players.”

Of course this was just a typo, as everyone knows. And the goof was caught and corrected very quickly.

All kidding aside, new Rochester coach Benoit Groulx is going to run the rookie camp, with JM and Peter DeBoer close by. Should be a fun couple of days up in Kitch, a town I found to be pretty cool in my travels up there this summer.

For those fans up north who want to see some of the Panthers top prospects practice and play other teams, this is a good opportunity to do so. All workouts and games are going to be at the Kitchener Auditorium, home of the Rangers. Here's the sked. Have fun!

Sept. 12 – Practice, 2-4 p.m.

Sept. 13 – Florida vs. Ottawa, 2 p.m.

Sept. 14 – Florida vs. Pittsburgh, 2 p.m.

Sept. 15 – Florida vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.

-- Thanks to all of those who have voted on the Top Panthers thread (which is below). Quite a few votes are in already (and we are less than 12 hours into the deal). Lot of votes for Roberto Luongo, John Vanbiesbrouck and Pavel Bure.

Plenty of time left to vote. As I wrote below, you have a month to vote on this group before I add and subtract a few names and we figure this whole thing out. But vote when you want; vote when you can.

August 26, 2008

You Make the Call

Beezer_2 With summer finally coming to a close and training camp just a few weeks away, it's time to honor the top players in Florida Panthers history.

Sure, some of you will say 'George has been watching ESPN again.' And it's true. ESPN is currently running nightly segments picking the top three players in franchise history of major league baseball (for instance, last night was the Philadelphia Phillies. They chose Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt as the top Phils of all time.)

Here at On Frozen Pond, we don't care about the Phillies (OK, sometimes we do.) But we do care about the Florida Panthers, and would like to get your input on who you believe the best Panthers of all time are.

Bure_2 Listed below are 10 players I selected for the honor; you are allowed to vote for three.

We will unveil the final results at the home opener on Oct. 11, so you have plenty of time to vote. Unlike ESPN, this will be strictly a fan vote. If I don't agree with the top three vote getters, I will say so. But the fan's vote will stick.

I'm sure I left out a player or two the fans feel should be honored. Make sure in the comment section to let me know who is missing. In one month, I'll lop off the bottom three vote getters and replace them with three new names and see where we go.

As always, comments are welcome. Let us know who your top three are and why. Carry on.

August 22, 2008

Yep, We're the Worst

MetrorailCongratulations, South Florida!

Forbes Magazine recently did a story calling our fair part of the world the worst American city to live in as a sports fan. San Diego is second, Indianapolis third.

The Forbes study is based on winning percentage of the pro teams in the area (the Canes' 5-7 season wasn't even included) compared to the price of tickets to see those teams.

Based on winning percentages alone, last year was rough. According to Forbes, South Florida's aggregate winning percentage of .400 was ranked 27th of the 29 major metro areas in this report (there was a major city whose pro teams were worse that ours last year? Where?)

To make matters worse, South Florida is paying a pretty penny to see such mediocrity in person, the average price for a family of four to see a game down here close to $300. Hey, it's their math, not mine.
Want to read more about our crummy state of sports? Click here.

Of course, there's always next year. I'm betting our combined winning percentage will be better next season (can the Dolphins go 1-15 again? The Heat can't be as crummy as they were last year, can they? Doubt it.) As far as the expensive tickets go, well, I don't see that changing very much. Maybe next year we'll only be No. 2. Or three. Whatever.

We're gunning for you San Diego!

And remember: Stay classy, San Diego.

Back to Work -- Not Really

WorkersJust checking in since it's been a few days since my last post.

There has been some news, with the Panthers hiring Benoit Groulx from the Quebec Major Juniors to coach the Rochester Americans. Appears to be a pretty good hire, Benoit is held in high regard by a lot of hockey people I've talked to. This is a guy on the rise. Look forward to meeting him at training camp in the coming weeks.

If you would like to read more about Benoit, check out Kevin O's fine piece in the Rochester Democrat, Republican and Whig. I would do more, but I'm on vacation now, so I'm trying to keep the workload light.

-- Was at Incredible Ice on Wednesday as a number of Panthers have made their way back south and have begun informal workouts on the ice. Mike Van Ryn was out there in a Panthers jersey, although we all know he probably won't be wearing that for much longer. Ryno is upbeat as ever, although I'm sure he'd like to hear something one way or another. He says he hasn't heard anything on the trade front.

Know this though: Ryno's shot looks pretty good. He was ripping off some pretty nice wrist shots, and it looks like this last surgery took. "I told you,'' he said. "My wrists feel great. I'm back to normal.'' A lot of the guys were joking that the trade may be off, since JM was watching from above as Ryno was scoring on whomever was in net -- including Tomas Vokoun and some guy named Luongo.

Other players in attendance the day I was there: Wade Belak ("shoulder feels good, I'll be ready for camp.''), Nathan Horton, Anthony Stewart, Bryan Allen, Vokoun and MVR. Guys are trickling in as the summer shortens.

-- Have heard Richard Zednik's name tossed about as being possibly traded to Toronto along with MVR. Have not been able to confirm this in anyway shape or form, but this wouldn't surprise me. As much as the Panthers like Zednik, there is a thought there that once he comes back his past injury is going to be a distraction. And it will be.

Whatever city the Panthers go to, the local media is going to want to talk to Zednik and do a big story on him. It's natural. And that means players like Stephen Weiss, Bryan Allen -- anyone who was here last year -- is going to be asked to comment on said story on just about every road trip. Which means the Panthers won't be able to put that horrific incident behind them.

On the flip side, can you imagine the sound that rises from the Big Bank on Opening Night when Zednik is introduced to the home crowd? You have to start him on Opening Night. You just have to.

August 16, 2008

First Wave

HockeynewsThis isn't the cover of the magazine, but The Hockey News' season preview has been released and they aren't real fond of the new-look Panthers.

It appears to be more of the same to them.

In THN's prediction page, it has Florida 12th in the East, just above Atlanta, Toronto and the Islanders. I think this is very close to last season's predictions as well, which pretty much proved to be right. Your thoughts on the picks are welcomed as always. As a bonus, here are THN's complete preseason rankings.

Eastern Conference: 1. Montreal; 2. Pittsburgh; 3. Washington; 4. Philadelphia' 5. Ottawa; 6. Rangers' 7. New Jersey; 8. Carolina; 9. Tampa Bay; 10. Boston; 11. Buffalo; 12. PANTHERS; 13.  Atlanta; 14. Toronto; 15. Islanders.

Western Conference: 1. Detroit; 2. San Jose; 3. Minnesota; 4. Dallas; 5. Anaheim; 6. Edmonton; 7. Chicago; 8. Calgary; 9. Nashville; 10. Phoenix; 11. Vancouver; 12. Columbus; 13. Los Angeles; 14. Colorado; 15. St. Louis.

August 15, 2008

Happy Days

FonzieA certain hockey blogger who resides in South Florida just got a new laptop for his birthday.

And this is the first post with said laptop.

Yep, it works.

Carry on. Eh.

The Rumor Mill

MillThis is what I got for you all today.

Story is, Mike Van Ryn is for sure going to Toronto, Bryan McCabe coming back. He's cool with coming with Florida and will waive his no-trade to play for the Panthers. This is coming from two very good sources in Toronto, from people I trust.

Have also gotten word from inside the Panthers organization that this part of the deal is complete. The Leafs are desperate to get rid of McCabe's contract, to the point where they were thinking of buying him out.

My thought: They'll take Mike and his two years and hope Mike's wrists are all healed and they've got a bargain. Worst case is, they can buy out Mike's final year; that's a lot cheaper than buying out McCabe with three -- or next summer, two -- years remaining.

Florida and Toronto are still talking about other stuff, and it appears someone is going with Ryno to Toronto. But, it won't be anything major. Perhaps Radek Dvorak, maybe a younger player who is on the roster bubble. Forget reports that Stephen Weiss or David Booth would be traded. That's not happening. Same goes for Jay Bouwmeester.

-- Saw some former Panthers at Incredible Ice working out today, from Roberto Luongo to Eddie Belfour to Ruslan Salei. We're getting closer...

August 14, 2008

For Our Friends in New York

RochJacques Martin told me he is very close to naming a new head coach of the AHL Rochester Americans. Didn't get any names out of him or anything, but he did tell me they'll have a new guy in place next week.

Know it's not much, but it's something. Or it's nothing. But I think it's something.

Florida Maple Cats

MccabeWord is, Bryan McCabe is coming to a town near you.

Here's what we got: Sportsnet.ca is reporting that Toronto d-man Bryan McCabe has agreed to waive his no-trade clause and "could be headed to the Florida Panthers.''

TSN.ca is reporting that McCabe is indeed headed to Broward County, once he gets paid the $2 million he's owed by the team on Sept. 1. TSN is saying that the deal is done; the players have been agreed upon and the deal will go down before training camp.

Jay Bouwmeester, as I wrote yesterday, is not part of this deal and isn't going anywhere. For now, anyway.

We'll see what happens, remember, these are just rumors (or for our Canadian visitors, rumours.)

Here is the TSN link; here is sportsnet.ca's link.

I spoke with JM this afternoon and he just kind of chuckled at my questions regarding this deal. He's not going to say anything until he wants it released. That's how he operates. But this deal passes the sniff test, and I think it's going to go down.

Here's the story I have running in tomorrow's editions of your Miami Herald.

The sad part of it is, as always, is who moves on. In this case, it looks like Mike Van Ryn will be leaving his adopted home and headed back to the Great White North. A class guy if there ever was one, Ryno will be missed down here. But, I would expect he'll be back at some point in his career, in some capacity

Van Ryn has made a home in South Florida, living in Davie with wife Amber. “This is my home now,’’ he said. “My second home is my first home.’’

When I spoke to Mike earlier this summer, he told me he had a feeling something might be going down, and said he would be surprised to be playing for the Panthers this season. Of course, it may not by Mike going north. But I think, with little doubt, he is.

And that sucks.

In case you missed it, here's the story I did on Mike a few weeks ago. Of course, our website is pretty lax in the archive department. Believe it or not, to read a story I did on July 30 -- which has disappeared off the face of the MiamiHerald.com map -- I have to link to CBS' Sportsline.

Nice, eh?

Anyway, thanks CBS Sportsline for picking up our slack. Now, here's my story on Mike Van Ryn, courtesy of CBS Sportsline. Again, it's CBS Sportsline and Mike Van Ryn.


And, thanks, CBS Sportsline...

Par for the Course

CaddyAs usual, the Panthers will only get one game nationally televised by Versus.

This time, however, it won't even be from Sunrise.

Versus announced its national broadcast schedule today, the lone Florida game (every team has to be televised once) will come to you live from Montreal as the Cats take on the host Habs on Oct. 20 -- making it the second Monday night game of the season.

Sure a lot of folks will be watching. ESPN will have the very-TV friendly New England Patriots playing host to Denver that night as well.

Of course, the Panthers could still be included in NBC's coverage come spring, but what are the odds of that happening?

-- More TV stuff. The Panthers won't be seen much in the States (although I'm sure a good number of games will be picked up by the NHL Network), but they will be in Canada. Florida isn't scheduled for a Hockey Night in Canada date, but will be shown on TSN three times (at Ott, Oct. 22; at Tor, Jan. 6; vs. Mon, Jan 29).

French network RDS will also broadcast Florida's four games against the Habs.

-- More TV stuff II: This, friends, could be bad. Word on the street is that FSN may be cutting their local coverage of the Cats, going from 70 games down to 65. If you thought people complained about last year's games not on local TV, wait until five more go down the chute.

Fire up the e-mails, folks.

August 13, 2008

Who's That Cat -- err, Desert Dog?

Openhouse Sitting here at Miami Gardens Stadium covering the Marlins when Panthers PR guru Brian Goldman wandered in.

Naturally, talk turned to hockey. And talk turned to Olli Jokinen.

The Panthers ex-captain was in Arizona earlier this week, taking part in a Coyotes' open house. According to coyotes.com, Olli was one of a large group of players who held an impromptu practice out in the desert. Word is, they have ice out there too.

If you click on the pic above, you'll see that Olli (the familiar looking fellow sitting next to Shane Doan) is still keeping his hair cut short. Good for you Olli. It's a sharp look.

Just Saying Hello

GeorgeDon't have a whole lot of write about hockey-wise, but figure since I've put up posts on both the University of Miami and Florida Marlins sites today, I would be remiss if I didn't post something on my own piece of the Internet.

And, I believe this makes me the first person in the short history of Miami Herald online to make posts on three separate sites in the same day (if you're keeping track, it's been within a two-hour span.)

I would have posted on the FAU site yesterday, but we don't have one, so I couldn't.

With that out of the way, on to hockey!

-- Word out of Toronto is that Bryan McCabe may be willing to waiving his no-trade clause and heading out of the GTA. Don't know what that means for the Panthers, although with JM's love for all things Maple Leaf, you have to think there is probably some interest there on Florida's side. McCabe isn't as bad as he's been made out to be in Toronto, and could use a nice change of scenery.

For Florida to make this move, you would have to gather that Mike Van Ryn would be headed north, his $3-plus million salary in each of the next two seasons going to Toronto in exchange for McCabe and his $6.15 million wage for this season. McCabe is scheduled to make $4.15 million in each of the final two years of his deal (2009-10, 2010-11).

Florida is going to be asked for more than its willing to give, but will probably have to throw in a young players or two along with a Van Ryn/Skrastins type veteran.

Considering McCabe is signed for three years -- and if the Panthers feel McCabe is far from done and can get back to form where he scored at least 50 points for three straight (2003-04, 2005-07) seasons -- they may take this very seriously.

Or not.

-- Big news is hockey is the Islanders now have a coach, following a familiar path by hiring a guy with no NHL coaching experience.

Scott Gordon, now the reigning but not defending, coach of the year in the AHL gets a multi-year deal on the Island. A rising name in the coaching ranks, Gordon has his work cut out for him in Uniondale, but is a very bright hockey mind and is very energetic. He comes to the Isle from the Providence Bruins.

-- James Mirtle, official Friend Of On Frozen Pond (FOOFP), did a ton of research on the NHL's salary structure. Lots of good stuff -- as usual -- here. Lot of math, too, and now I have a headache. "I was told there would be no math,'' -- Chevy Chase as President Ford, SNL.

Check out the fruits of James' hard labor -- and obvious mad math skillz -- right here.

-- Been getting a ton of emails regarding the Jay Bouwmeester trade rumors. Isn't going to happen, so relax.

August 08, 2008

Sprukts is Back

SpruktsAfter spending last season in Europe, Janis Sprukts has returned to the Panthers. Was just told by Panthers PR that it's a one-year deal, not a two-year as originally reported here and in the official press release.

Would have to think this is a two-way deal with some promises made. Sprukts left Florida last summer because he couldn't secure a one-way deal (which is basically a guarantee he would spend the season in the NHL).

Doubt he would turn down good money from Europe thinking he'd be shuttling back and forth to the AHL. But that's just a guess, as JM appears to be out of commission cellphone-wise. There'll be some competition for forward spots, so this will be an interesting battle come training camp.

Sprukts, who could center the third or fourth lines in Florida, split time with the Cats and Rochester in 2006-07. In 13 games with Florida that year, he scored a goal with an assist. He was very good offensively with the Americans, scoring 18 goals with 41 assists in 58 AHL games that season.

Playing for Lukko Rauma in Finland last season, he scored 12 goals with 17 assists in 53 games.

-- Know this is old news now, but defenseman Sean Hill is going the other way, the former Panther signing to play in Switzerland next season.

August 05, 2008

Big Surprise

KilgerSpoke to JM today, and he says he does not expect Chad Kilger to play for the Panthers this season.

Florida acquired Kilger from the Maple Leafs in the final minutes before the February trade deadline for a third round pick. Kilger never reported to the Panthers despite being with the Leafs in Fort Lauderdale, and was later suspended. The team says Kilger is dealing with undisclosed family issues, something that is apparently still unresolved.

“He’s still dealing with some personal issues, and at this point, I don’t think he’ll be playing,’’ Martin said. “We still hold his rights. He’s indicated to me that if he were to play, he’d want to play for us. We’re not the issue.’’

Will have more on this in tomorrow's Herald, so make sure you check in early.

-- On a more positive note, JM says he's spoken to both Richard Zednik and trainer David Zenobi and the reports are Zednik is doing a lot of physical work and is expected to be in good shape when training camp kicks off. Zednik has been skating, and JM says the team is expecting a good season out of the veteran. Zednik, as everyone remembers, was hit in the neck by Olli Jokinen's errant skate on Feb. 10 in Buffalo and missed the remainder of the season.

-- Drew Larman has been tendered a qualifying offer, although he and his agent have not accepted it. JM says this is no cause of concern, and a deal will get done in the coming weeks.

End of an Era: 1988-2008

MiamiarenaThe Miami Arena, as we knew her, is no more.

According to a story in the Herald by our Barry Jackson, the owner of the arena (who won it in an auction for $25 million a few years back), has already gutted the place and is going to demolish the building in the coming days/weeks.

Yes, Miami Arena was outdated the day it was opened. But we would never have had the Miami Heat had the place not been built, and certainly wouldn't have been given an expansion hockey team in 1993 without the old pink hatbox in Overtown.

Hooters Saw many great sporting events in the Arena during her short shelf life, from the Heat to Hurricane hoops to great concerts. I even loved going to see the Miami Hooters of the Arena Football League in their few years here.

For those who weren't down here back then, the opening of the Arena was huge. HUGE. Up until the opening in 1988, the only real concert venue we had in this area was the Sporto in west Pembroke Pines or the Marine Stadium in Miami.

The Hurricanes basketball team played at the Knight Center (basically a large auditorium) until the Arena opened.

Perhaps the best times the old arena ever saw was the Panthers run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996. It's hard to explain to an outsider the way that hockey team took over this town. The Panthers owned South Florida at that time. A third year team going to the Stanley Cup Finals? You kidding?

Barrasso Remember the rats? There were big ones running around the arena and rubber ones being thrown on the ice. I'll never forget seeing Bill Lindsay score that goal against the Bruins to win Florida's first playoff series, and the mob of people filing out of that place to celebrate. Then came the Flyers; then the Penguins. Will also never forget seeing Tom Barrasso (or forget hearing that derisive chant) as he hid in the net after a Panthers goal with rats raining onto the ice.

Rats_2 I got lucky and was able to work a bunch of those games for Fox Sports, and late in the playoff run, one of my jobs was rat duty. Was in charge of estimating how many rubber rats (and whatever else people tossed onto the ice) flew down by going by how many bags the Orkin guys had filled. Sneaking into Game 4 of the Finals with my Game 3 pass was also a highlight.

On a personal note, FIU had to hold our commencement ceremony at the Arena because of bad weather back in 1997. That was cool too. Oh, and the NBA All-Star Game. And Game 3 of the 1992 NBA playoffs when the Heat almost upset Michael Jordan and the mighty Bulls. How about the Heat-Knicks battles there? The NBA All-Star Game?

Four years ago, my friend Joe and I heard John Kerry was holding a rally at the arena. Neither of us are politically active, but decided this was probably going to be our last chance to go inside. We were right. I have some cool pics from that night that I will post later. I'm in Orlando and those photos are at home.

Bowl Miami is losing another obsolete friend. First went Miami Stadium, then the Orange Bowl. Soon, Fort Lauderdale Stadium will be put down.

At least we have our memories.

Thanks Miami Arena. 

Frozen Poll Time!

Below is a list of a few of my favorite Miami Arena moments. Make your vote. If you think I missed something, give me your candidate. If I agree, I'll add it. As always, comments welcomed.

Summer Doldrums

SummerYours truly is hanging out in Orlando these days, unfortunately for work and not for pleasure.

Some people come to Orlando to visit the theme parks, you know, Six Flags (which everyone knows is the biggest theme park in Orlando) and Walley World (the moose out front told me it was closed. Shame.) As far as I know, those are the only two parks around here.

No, I'm here to do some football work, visiting the UCF Knights for the start of their season. For those who only follow hockey -- I'm talking to our many visitors from Canada who may not know The U from U of F -- let me give you a brief primer on Florida college football:

The biggest known teams in the Sunshine State are called Florida's Big Three (Miami, Florida and Florida State). These three are hated rivals, with all three playing each other this season. Which, believe it or not, is rare. Florida will most likely beat both Miami and FSU. And it'll be by a lot. Miami (the Hurricanes, AKA, The U) and FSU (the Noles) are rebuilding these days. The Gators are not rebuilding by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the Gators are pretty darned good. Let's move on.

There are a host of other schools trying to crack the Big Three, or at least expand it to a Big Four, or even a Big Five. Those schools are all fairly new to big-time football.

The main contender is South Florida (USF), a school that didn't even have football the last time the Florida Panthers won a playoff game (USF kicked off in the fall of 1997). The Bulls (which aren't even close to South Florida since they are based in Tampa) are pretty good. They are in the Big East and are a rising star. Then there is Orlando's UCF (Knights), Boca's FAU (Owls) and Miami's FIU (supposedly dropping Golden from their nickname and going simply by the Panthers. FIU used to be the Sunblazers, which actually is more original, and thereby, cooler. But I digress.)

Florida has a pair of I-AA schools, FAMU (Rattlers) in Tallahassee and Bethune Cookman (Wildcats) in Daytona Beach. These two, both Historically Black Colleges, are huge rivals who meet in the Florida Classic every year in Orlando. I hope to attend this game one of these days. Great party.

Anyway, I think that's a pretty good primer for those who may not follow what is the true sporting passion of this state. Football is king in Florida, especially the collegiate version.

People have been complaining that I haven't put anything up here lately, but I've been swamped with college football (and I've been playing a lot of golf!) And like I said before, not much happening in hockey during August.

So there's your entry for the day.

-- Big news in Orlando today: UCF coach George O'Leary ended his boycott of The Orlando Sentinel. He's been upset with the paper's coverage of the death of freshman receiver Ereck Plancher this past spring. Sad story. Read more about it in Tuesday's Herald.

-- For those hockey folk who stuck around, I may have some stuff for you this week. Nothing major, but some stuff nonetheless.

-- I did not know Luther Campbell had his own reality show on VH-1. Where have I been? Good stuff from one of Miami's own. Suey!