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Distraction? What Distraction?

Bo_2 To a man, the Panthers say Jay Bouwmeester and his contractual status with the Panthers will not be a problem nor a distraction this season.

When asked if his contract would be a distraction, DeBoer joked: "What contract situation.''

Added DeBoer:  "The way I look at it is this: He's a premier defenseman and we love him. We'd love to keep him here in Florida. From Jay's perspective, whether he's going to play in Florida long-term or go somewhere else, he's going to need a great year in order to set himself up for where he wants to go. The only thing I can control is I know I've got him for the season here and with that motivation, I think we'll have a great season from him.''

Both Bryan McCabe and Keith Ballard both said Jay's contract status is something that will not affect the team, and Ballard said the status of Bouwmeester had nothing to do with his decision to sign a six-year deal with the Cats last week.

"He's one of the best young D in the league,'' McCabe said. "Obviously one of the best skating defensemen in the league. He's got some wheels on him. I got to skate with him at the Olympics, got to room with him as well. He's a great kid. He's already an All-Star at 25. He's going to have a great career.

"[Contract] stuff doesn't concern us. That stuff will work itself out. Winning cures everything. If we can get off to a good start, make the playoffs, I'm sure Jay will make a decision that's best for him. But that stuff doesn't concern us in the locker room.''

Said Jacques Martin: "Look around the league and you see a lot of players playing out the last year of their contract. I think we got Jay signed for a year, and we can't sign him until after January 1. So it's not a distraction. Jay is on board to give us a good season, and we're looking for him to play the best hockey he ever has.''

G-MAN'S DAILY LYNX

-- Ducks tell Mathieu Schneider not to bother coming to physicals. Smells like the Duckies have a deal in place.

-- Pierre LeBrun says the Sabres are on the rebound.

-- Speaking of Buffalo, former Sabre Matthew Barnaby is being hired by ESPN to replace Barry Melrose.

-- I don't think Larry Brooks is a big fan of Nikolai Zherdev, do you?

-- Rich Hammond says Patrick O'Sullivan has been asked by the Kings to not report until they can work out a new contract. OK then.

-- Puck Daddy takes a look at your New York Islanders.

-- Mike Russo on Jacques Lemaire returning to the Wild of Minnesota.

-- Some guy named George Richards looks at the start of Florida Panthers training camp somewhere down in Florida. 

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