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Almost Party Time

PartyTraining camp is now officially "around the corner,'' the Panthers holding media day on Friday at the Big Bank, the first practice coming on Saturday morning in Coral Springs.

It's been a long, hot, summer here in South Florida, and with the Panthers out of the playoffs again, it's been a long offseason. One that's about to end.

And it couldn't happen soon enough.

PANTHERS OFFSEASON HIGHLIGHTS

-- Less than a week after the season ends with a loss at Washington (one in which the Caps clinch the Southeast thanks to the Panthers knocking out Carolina the night before), owner Alan Cohen tells me JM will not return as coach but is welcome to come back as general manager.

-- After mulling it over for a couple of days, JM announces he will indeed come back as GM. He gets a new contract.

-- The Panthers coaching search takes some time, but finally ends when Peter DeBoer signs on and becomes the 10th coach in franchise history.

-- At the draft in Ottawa -- err, Kanata -- the Panthers move captain Olli Jokinen to Phoenix in exchange for a draft pick, and d-men Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton.

-- On the first day of free agency, the Panthers sing forward Cory Stillman, he of two Stanley Cup championships.

-- In August, word surfaces that Toronto is looking to move Bryan McCabe. Weeks later -- after B-Mac gets paid by the Leafs -- the trade goes down. Florida gets McCabe and a draft pick, the Leafs get Mike Van Ryn.

-- Other things that have gone down: Gregory Campbell gets a two-year deal, Ballard signs for six. Rostislav Olesz also gets a six-year deal. Jozef Stumpel is bought out, and Branislav Mezei isn't tendered a new deal (both sign with the same team in the KHL). Steve Montador leaves Panthers for the Ducks.

And that's the offseason in one quick nutshell. Probably missed something since I'm watching reruns of 'Always Sunny in Philadelphia while I write this. But it's pretty close.

G-MAN'S DAILY LYNX

-- Big shock in Tampa: Vinny Lecavalier is the new captain of the Bolts.

-- Carolina setback: Justin Williams out four to six months.

-- Looks like Luc Robitaille got ripped off by Boots.

-- Darren McCarty gets a one-year deal from the Red Wings.

-- Lots of questions as training camps open throughout the league. The Edmonton Journal takes a look at them.

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I am so psyched that the season's almost here! GAME ON!!!!!!

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