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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.

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