« August 2008 | Main | October 2008 »

48 posts from September 2008

September 04, 2008

Here We Go Again

MayflowerWith training camps not to far away, must be time to talk about fixing hockey. And for many in Canada, that means bringing more NHL franchises north of the border.

Mark Moore writes at the Hockey News online site that "relocating teams from Nashville, Phoenix, Atlanta and South Florida to Winnipeg, Quebec City, Halifax and Southern Ontario would give Canada 10 teams, or one-third, just as it had in the Original Six era.''

No one can dispute the Canadian economy is strong and is all but fueling whatever growth the NHL is experiencing right now. But we're a long way away from teams in the lower 48 up and moving. Sure, a team may find its way to a suburb of Toronto in the next decade and there would be worse places to put a team than Winnipeg or Halifax (from a selling tickets point of view, not when it comes to travel.) But the NHL isn't pulling up stakes any time soon, unless it's to Kansas City or Las Vegas, American cities who either have a spanking new arena or are in the process of getting one.

Taking a team out of the U.S. and moving it to Canada isn't going to get the NHL on ESPN any faster, isn't going to help the long-term growth of this league in the States. The NHL hasn't given up on teams like the Panthers -- who do have plenty of problems but seem intent on figuring out a way to make it a go -- Thrashers, Preds and Coyotes. And they shouldn't. The game is growing in these places, only not as fast as some would like.

The NHL would be wise to continue showing patience in these markets.

-- Here's Capitals owner Ted Leonsis' take on talk of canning some teams. Fun read.


Expos -- Speaking of Canada, the Canadiens are exploring the option of playing a game at Olympic Stadium in 2009. The former home of the Expos will need a lot of work, but the Canadiens have plenty of money. Talk is of opening the roof to have a true outdoor game. My pick to drop the first puck? Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Tim Raines and Warren 'Call Me Homie!' Cromartie.

With the Marlins off, Dave Van Horne could call the game as well.

Don't think Jeff Loria and Dave Samson will be invited for the festivities.

-- Tarik El-Bashir at the Washington Post says the Caps are going to have a couple cool bobblehead giveaways this year featuring coach Bruce Broudreau and Alex Ovechkin. Hope those are on Panther night.

-- John Tortorella wasn't out of work for long, although he won't behind any bench this season. Torts, fired by the Bolts a few months back, gets to pontificate on the game for TSN for at least one season -- while the Lightning pay him for not coaching them. He'll be back on the bench next year.

-- Old pal Mike Russo goes to the practice rink and finds a bunch of NHL guys working out, including the Panthers' Keith Ballard. But Mike don't care about the Panthers no more (OK, that's not true), so he talks to Marian Gaborik about coming into the season with a one-year deal. Good stuff.

September 03, 2008

Panthers at the Ballpark (OK, Stadium)

029 Live from Miami Gardens Stadium in, um, Miami Gardens, it's Marlins baseball. With a hockey twist.

Jacques Martin and Peter DeBoer are here, taking in the Marlins/Braves game. Big crowd on hand, as usual, one that would pack the few rows of bleachers at Incredible Ice. 034 No matter, should be a good afternoon of baseball.

JM has already done an interview with Fox's Craig Minervini, with Pete joining the Marlins broadcast crew of Tommy Hutton and Rich Waltz during the fifth inning. Game is on FSN Florida, so feel free to check it out.

What else could you be doing today? Working?

031_3 Not this guy....

Unrestricted Trade

UnrestrictedI'm sure you all have seen the sports magazine produced by Sunrise Sports and Entertainment, the parent of the Florida Panthers.

Called Unrestricted, it's a monthly mag that is a pretty good read. I think they do a real good job, so much so, I read it each month.

That said, there must be some kind of an "Unrestricted" curse. Am at the Sawgrass Goodyear right now getting some work done on the Silver Bullet and noticed one of the team's Honda Elements in the parking lot.

There are various pictures of South Florida athletes on the graphics, including one Mike Van Ryn -- traded Tuesday to Toronto. Then I looked closer. Every pro athlete from South Florida in the graphic, save one, has been traded away. Look, there's Jason Taylor. He's next to Shaquille O'Neal. And Dontrelle Willis is there too.

The last man standing? Dwyane Wade.


-- At Incredible Ice now, some new faces currently on the ice, although no Bryan McCabe today. The new guys at the workout: Kamil Kreps and Noah Welch.

And there's a new arrival, looking like he just stepped off a plane: Karlis Skrastins.

-- Spoke to trainer Dave Zenobi yesterday, and he told me Richard Zednik is "doing incredible" and has been working out and skating. Says Zednik should be here in South Florida by the end of the week or at least by the weekend. So that'll be nice.

DAILY (not Ottawa) LYNX

-- Wonder what the NHL did with the rink that turned Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium into the world's biggest hockey venue last January? Well, the town of East Aurora, N.Y., bought it and is going to have it up and operational come November. Weather permitting, of course. If you thought that was the end of the useless trivia, well, you are wrong. Did you know, East Aurora is the home of Fisher-Price toys? No? Did you care? No?

-- The Hamilton Spectator is reporting that former NHL coach Pat Quinn will replace new Rochester coach Benoit Groulx as coach of Canada's entry in the upcoming world juniors. Quinn has a nice history of success with the kids, and led Team Canada to Gold in 2002 at the Salt Lake games.

-- Mats Sundin sttill hasn't decided what he's going to do this season. Sundin will be in Toronto this weekend for a charity game at Air Canada Center. Glad I won't be there to fight the media throng. On Toronto's AM 640, Mats said "where I am right now, I'm not at a point where I'm physically and mentally ready to make a decision. My biggest thing is, I want to make sure I'm physically and mentally prepared for the rigors of an NHL season and to compete at an elite level." OK then. Here's Mike Zeisberger's take from the Toronto Sun.

-- In a surprising move, the Predators have suspended Alexander Radulov after he left Music City and signed with a team in Russia's new KHL. Good for them. Rumor is, Chad Kilger will be joining Radulov in Mother Russia. OK, that was a joke. A very small one, but a joke. 

-- Going to the Marlins game today, taking in the game from a skybox with one JM the GM and some guy named Peter DeBoer. Hope Fredi Gonzalez doesn't summon me from the bullpen. My elbow's been hurting a bit. Course, I couldn't do much worse. Not a joke.

September 02, 2008

Yes, It's a Business

WeissAs expected, the players I spoke to today were happy to hear the Panthers were trying to improve themselves -- although they weren't happy it came at the expense of Mike Van Ryn.

Stephen Weiss is used to saying goodbye to teammates; he's been with the Panthers long enough to know anyone can be traded at any time.

You get close to guys, and they become your buddies,'' Weiss said. "It's no difference with [Steve] Montador and some other guys who won't be here this year. Olli Jokinen, too. It's the business.

"You see it more often as you get older. You don't want to get used to it, but that's the way it goes. Every year I've been here there have been changes, and that's what happens when you don't make the playoffs. You have to find answers and reasons why. Coaching staffs and players get moved. The best thing we can do is win and this group will stay together. That's all we can focus on. We have to our job on the ice, the business will take care of itself off of it.''

Van Ryn had hoped to help the Panthers advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2000, yet joins a long list of players who have left the Panthers in recent years as the team searches for that elusive postseason berth. A member of the Panthers since being acquired in a trade with St. Louis in 2003, Van Ryn signed a four-year contract worth close to $12 million with the Panthers in 2006. Numerous wrist injuries have slowed Van Ryn since.

Last year, he only played in 20 games as he had to shut his season down to have another surgery on his right wrist. He says his wrist has healed fine.

Van Ryn has made South Florida his home, he and wife Amber (a former Dolphins' cheerleader) raising horses on a ranch in Davie.

Moving to Canada is going to be an experience for the Van Ryn family, with Mike hoping his wife enjoys living in a hockey environment. Not only do the Panthers visit Toronto twice this season (on Jan. 6 and Feb. 2), but Amber's Dolphins do as well. The Buffalo Bills will play host to the Dolphins at the Rogers Center in Toronto on Dec. 7.

My wife has never seen what its like to play hockey in Canada,'' said Van Ryn, a native of London, Ontario. “This is going to be a neat experience. She gets to experience a different side of the game, and that's exciting. She's never lived anywhere other than here. Sure it's a little scary in a way, but it's a change and change can be really exciting.''

JacqueSpeak, with Stephen, Wade and Cory

Jm2Jacques Martin spoke to the local and national media Tuesday evening. Here's a basic transcript about what the Florida Panthers' general manager had to say about the Bryan McCabe deal.

In case you're new to the discussion, Florida recently finalized a deal in which they acquire McCabe and a fourth round pick in 2010 for Mike Van Ryn.

More news on this trade in previous posts -- which are below. Below JM's quotes from today are comments from Stephen Weiss, Wade Belak and Cory Stillman. Enjoy.



Just some contract issues. The league controls when you make a trade, sometimes it's the language in the contract. It needed to verified. That's why it took some time.


He gives us some more offense from our backend. Bryan gives us experience. Look at his stats in Toronto, his shot on the power play. He also gives us some leadership in the locker room. His experience really helps our younger defense.


In order to acquire a player like Bryan McCabe, you have to give something in return. We got Bryan and a fourth round pick. That makes it a great deal for the organization.


I think so. Remember Larry Murphy? He was kind of pushed out of Toronto by the media, went to Detroit and was pretty effective player there. Last year wasn't great, but the previous two years were. He's an individual who really helps our top four. We have really improved our defensive corps.

Every team is very competitive. We've really improved our defense. That's the key to us being a better team. Better puck movers. We spent too much time in our own end. We now have guys who can move the puck.


I don't know where he's going to play. First pair, second pair. Most teams today have two good lines. You need top four defense. Where he fits in, time will tell. That's a coaches decision.


Came up over the summer, after the season. We identified what we needed to improve on, started looking at defensemen and accquired two at the draft. We still looked at improving defense during the summer. We feel the addition of Bryan will bring us some more offense from the backend.

Last year, we addressed goaltending and that turned out excellent for club. I've been here three years now, felt our D needed to be improved and addressed it this summer. I am excited about this team. I think we have more pieces of the puzzle in the right place.


That was part of it, not the only thing. Moving forward, we wanted a player who will fit into our organization. We didn't sign the contract; Toronto did. How it was structured, we could do the trade once the bonus was paid. But there were other factors.


I think he likes the direction of our club and feels he'll be a big part of our success. Last year with the goaltending, now look at our defense. Look at the core of our forwards being very young.

Now, here's what some of the Panthers had to say about the deal.

Stephen Weiss:

“Look at the teams that win these days, and it's the defensive teams,'' Weiss said, referring to the past two Stanley Cup champions in Anaheim and Detroit. “Their best players are their defensive players. That's how you win. It's exciting to see how our defense has strengthened, and we have two great goalies as well. We have to build that way.''

Wade Belak:

I think it's going to be great for the team and we're obviously happy to have him,'' Belak said. “He brings a lot of leadership and has played in over 900 games, so he's been around. I think he's going to be a good leader for this team, a possible captain candidate and a guy who will definitely help our power play. His main attribute, though, is his leadership.''

In talking to him, I know he gave Toronto a list of teams he would accept being traded to,'' Belak said. “Florida was obviously on his list. He's very happy to be here and I'm glad it worked out for him. I never thought he'd be here. I thought somewhere in New York. This is great for him.''

Cory Stillman:

Obviously their trying to improve the team,'' Cory Stillman said. “Ryno was a great player for the Panthers, but I think when you see Bryan, you're going to see a different game. He's a big part of this puzzle. Teams have to build from the goalie out, and we have great goaltending here. Now we've made the defensive changes. Hopefully we won't make any more moves until March when we're adding guys to push for a Cup run.''

If you're giving up a lot of shots, you're going to give up goals,'' Stillman said. “It's nice to play with the puck. If you outshoot your opponents on a nightly basis, I think you're going to do pretty well in this league and win a lot of games.''

He's a guy who competes every night,'' Stillman said. “He's played under the spotlight in Toronto and I don't think there's a bigger market in the game right now. And he performed, playing 26, 27 minutes a game each night. I don't know if he'll need to do that here, but he was heavily counted on there and scored a lot of goals for them. And a lot of big goals. When you play in Canada, you're under the spotlight from August 1 on. People there are reading everything they can, wanting to know what's going on. Here he can come in, play hockey and be himself. Hopefully he's going to help push us into the playoffs – and perhaps even further.''

Panthers Complete Trade -- With FrozenPoll

Mccabe3 The Panthers get defenseman Bryan McCabe and a fourth round pick in 2010 from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Mike Van Ryn.

Florida GM Jacques Martin will speak to the media at 6 p.m. EST.

McCabe, who already has moved to South Florida, is the key to the deal. McCabe was due a $2 million deferred signing bonus that was scheduled to be paid by the Maple Leafs on Labor Day. Once that payment was made, McCabe agreed to waive his no-trade clause and join the Panthers.

Van Ryn, 29, is coming off major surgery on his right wrist, an injury so severe it limited him to 20 games last season. Van Ryn has been slowed the past few seasons with various wrist injuries, although Ryno_2 he has said he is completely recovered and ready to move on. Van Ryn spent the holiday weekend at his Davie home packing, preparing to make the move back to his native Canada.

Van Ryn said he'll be leaving for Toronto on Wednesday.

"Obviously it's hard to leave all my family and friends that I've made here over the years,'' Van Ryn said Tuesday afternoon. "But this is going to be a good situation for me. I'm going to Toronto, I know a lot of guys there like [Joe] Nieuwendyk and other guys I've grown up with. I'm leaving one home for another.

"Honestly, this isn't as bad a deal as it could have been. Toronto's an Original Six team with a whole lot of history. This is going to fun and I'm going to get a new opportunity there. But it is hard to leave. This is home. People have been good to me here.''

Like Van Ryn, McCabe, 33, was slowed by injuries last season. The 12-year veteran missed 28 games because of various injuries. McCabe missed six games early in the season because of a groin injury, then missed two months when he broke three bones in his left hand after being checked into the boards during a loss at Montreal.

McCabe -- who refused to waive his no-trade clause at last year's trade deadline -- returned Feb. 7 at Montreal and played in Toronto's final 27 games last season, scoring one goal and adding 10 assists in those games. McCabe had a total of five goals and 18 assists last season, his lowest offensive output since he recorded 24 points in 2002-03.

Last season snapped a run in which McCabe recorded at least 50 points in three consecutive seasons for the Leafs. His 54 games played were a career low.

The Panthers hope a change of scenery will be beneficial. In the summer of 2006, McCabe signed a five-year deal worth 29 million. He has three years left on his contract with a salary cap hit of $5.75 million. Florida will pay $4.15 million each of the next three seasons but its salary cap will still reflect the average of McCabe's total salary.

Not counting any other movement, the addition of McCabe and subtraction of Van Ryn leaves the Florida payroll at close to $53 million this season with a cap hit of approximately $55 million. The NHL's salary cap this season is $56.7 million.

In Town, Not at Workout

Mccabe2It's 10:24 a.m. in beautiful Coral Springs, Florida, and as far as I can tell, Bryan McCabe is still a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Of course, that is expected to change any minute.

Coming to you live from Incredible Ice where a good number of current and past Panthers have taken to the ice for their daily workout. McCabe and Mike Van Ryn -- who will be traded for each other very soon -- are not here.

Some of the guys who are: Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton, Wade Belak, Radek Dvorak, Anthony Stewart, Alexei Semenov, Andreas Lilja, Craig Anderson, Ville Peltonen, Tomas Vokoun, Shawn Matthias and Viktor Kozlov.

Word is, Bryan arrived in South Florida on Monday and was pretty busy on Tuesday. He's expected to join the informal workouts later this week.

-- One interesting tidbit gleaned from today's talks: Wade Belak has tossed McCabe's name into the ring for the team's vacant captaincy. Some may remember me writing last year that it may be best for Florida's next captain to be someone from the outside. I still agree with that. While Stephen Weiss and Bryan Allen are terrific leaders, it might be good to have a newcomer -- one with a solid veteran presence -- put that C on from the onset. My favorite remains Cory Stillman, but McCabe is an interesting option for the new coach to mull over.


-- Some guy named Peter DeBoer is getting ready for the hockey season. Me too.

-- According to one report out of Montreal, the Habs plan to retire Patrick Roy's No. 33 sometime this season during the franchise's 100 year celebration. Course, that's news to him.

-- Speaking of retired jerseys, the Capitals plan on honoring fan favorite Mike Gartner prior to a game against Toronto in December. Gartner was one of the early stars of the Caps, leaving the team as its leader in most offensive catagories. He'll now always be No. 11 in Washington

-- Those of you who didn't stay up to watch the Tennessee-UCLA game last night really missed a classic. After a slow first half, things really picked up in the second, UCLA winning in overtime when the Vols miss a short field goal. Good stuff.

September 01, 2008

It's Almost Time

BigbenHappy Labor Day to everyone out there, and welcome to the new edition of On Frozen Pond. Well, it doesn't look very new right now, but changes are coming.

We're going to have more hockey news on this site than ever before, from the Florida Panthers to everyone else. Going to be hockey central right here on Miami's side of the world wide web.

Of course, I'm going to have fun with it. You're not going to find many links regarding roster moves in Edmonton.

So, now that we've arrived in the month of September, let's get things started. Only a few more weeks until training camp.

-- The big news come Tuesday will be the Panthers/Maple Leafs trade. Would like to tell you who else is involved, but I'm getting different things from different people. I think JM and Cliff Fletcher have done very well in keeping this thing quiet. As for the Bryan McCabe-Mike Van Ryn deal, we'll, that's done.

Here's a story on McCabe courtesy of Mike Ziesberger.

-- The Flyers are going to have a huge celebration at the Spectrum later this month, the team taking on Carolina in a preseason game and it sounds like they are doing it right. One of the cool things the Flyers are doing is inviting all their former captains to come to the game to be honored.

As expected, Eric Lindros won't be there. Says he has a "previous commitment." Like what? Seriously, what is Eric Lindros doing these days? Of course, he would have been booed. That's a given.

-- Are the Lightning going to get a little tougher? Barry Melrose tells Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times that David Koci may make the team out of camp.

Bertsnow -- Shocking news out of Calgary: Todd Bertuzzi Flames jerseys aren't selling well.

-- Buffalo enforcer Andrew Peters is pouring drinks for a good cause. On Tuesday nights, he tends at a Buffalo bar and dontates his money to charity. Cheers to that!