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52 posts from October 2008

October 31, 2008

Hitting the Road, Again...Cullimore's Back...Dandy Andy in Net

Bandit2 The Panthers practiced in Coral Springs Friday morning (while the Senators enjoyed the cozy confines of the Bank, but...) and will be off to Tennessee in the coming hours.

As expected, Jassen Cullimore was here and he's in the lineup tomorrow against the Predators. Pete DeBoer says "we have no choice" and that Cully is playing whether he's ready or not. For the record, Cully says he feels good and that he had a good practice. Seems very happy to be back with the Cats.

To make room, Shawn Matthias was sent back to Rochester. PDeB says this may not be a permanent move, and that Shawn could join the Panthers this weekend if deemed necessary. After watching this offense the past few games, I think any help would be welcomed.

Craig Anderson gets the start in net tomorrow against the Preds, giving Tomas Vokoun plenty of time to visit friends in Music City. Last year Vokoun didn't get such a luxury, Florida flying in and flying out. This time they get a little time to visit the town. And good for them. Nashville's one of my favorite road stops. Wish I was on this trip.

Also spoke with Stephen Weiss, who says he's feeling better, the time off allowing his groin injury to heal a little better. He's not going on this trip, hopes to be back on the ice when the team returns for two days of practice come Tuesday.

-- Bryan McCabe also participated in the full practice and I would think he's on the trip to Nashville if for nothing else but to keep practicing. Would not be surprised to see him in the lineup come Sunday in Atlanta, although I would surmise he probably doesn't come back until the Cats go to Los Angeles.

October 30, 2008

Welcome Back to the Barank...Mathias In....McCabe Still Out...Fun with Randy Moller

Matthias Live from the BarackAtlantic Center where the barricades are down, as are the political banners. Now, nothing left but ice, a lot of ads and a Celine Dion banner.

Bryan McCabe is on the ice participating in his first workout since injuring his back Oct. 10 in Carolina.

Also here: Shawn Matthias. Looks like he's centering the third line with Rostislav Olesz and Radek Dvorak.

UPDATE/PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME:

Matthias says he's excited to be back, says he looks at this as his NHL debut since the four games he played in last year were so long ago. He says he hopes to stick around a while, and if he plays well on this line, he might.

JM said he would speak to me before the game regarding injuries.

-- As expected, Tomas Vokoun in net tonight. Some of the Ottawa scribes ventured that Craig Anderson would play, and yes, he did stop 41 shots to beat the Sens last week. But, with the Panthers playing three games this weekend, if Craig started tonight, he would likely get two of three. And since he started the past game in St. Louis, that would mean your backup goalie starts in three of four.

So, we'll have Tomas in net tonight, probably Saturday in Music City with Andy going Sunday in Atlanta. On the west coast swing, you could map out Tomas in for Los Angeles and Phoenix, with Andy going in Anaheim (or he can get the start against the Jokinens.)

-- Bryan McCabe was one worn out looking dude after his practice today. The guy went hard. Took him at least 10 minutes to compose himself before he could talk to Craigervini and the FSN cameras. He was just beat. "I have to keep working hard to get my legs and my lungs back,'' McCabe said. "Riding the bike isn't going to do it.''

He knows his conditioning is going to get better on a daily basis and as long as his back holds up, he'll be OK in a few days. It appears he's going to keep practicing with the team, Pete DeBoer saying he's at least a week out -- two at the worst. The plan is for McCabe to come on the west coast jaunt, and possibly play on Thursday against Joe Torre and the LA Dodgers.

-- Wade Belak playing on defense today, still no Jassen Cullimore. Hope to get an update on that tonight as well. The Panthers' immigration folks are working hard on this one, you can count on that.

-- Tonight's game is on both FSN and NHL Network.

-- There will be no LIVE! updates from Nashville even though that game isn't televised. I won't be there to do it. Brian Costa taking over the beat for a couple of days. I'll be here today and tomorrow, back on top of things come Monday.

-- Don't know if you've heard, but there's a contest on Dan LeBatard's show on 790 in which callers suggest goal calls for Randy Moller. Pretty funny stuff. Last week against San Jose, Molls broke out "make me a bicycle, clown!,'' a line from the classic 'Wedding Crashers.' Looking forward to what comes up tonight.

My suggestion, from Animal House: "Congratulations Kroger, you're at the top of the Delta pledge class.''

October 29, 2008

BarackAtlantic Center...Sensplex South...Auld In...Campbell, Weiss Out

Barackhockey_2 The Panthers and the Senators both practiced at Incredible Ice today because the Big Bank was unavailable. Expect plenty of traffic around the arena tonight as Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama makes a visit to Sunrise.

Should be a plenty exciting event for those who like politics, with word being that doors are opening at 4:30 p.m. with Sen. Obama not expected to arrive until 7:30.

No word on whether the Panthers plan to present Sen. Obama with his own customized jersey. You have to think someone inside the organization has thought of this and they would be wise to do so. Nothing beats free publicity, and having a photo of the man who could be our next president holding your jersey would make quite a big splash. ESPN might even pick up on it.

According to The Miami Herald, part of the Sunrise rally will be broadcast live during Sen. Obama's massive media buy tonight. The Panthers won't be on NBC this season, but at least their arena will.

-- The Sens took over Incredible Ice today, moving into the Panthers locker room once they vacated it. Alex Auld, who says hello to everyone, makes his return to the Bank tomorrow as he starts in net for the Senators. Auld, drafted by the Panthers then re-acquired in the Roberto Luongo deal, beat the Panthers last year as a member of the Bruins. He still owns his house in Broward County, so if you're looking for a cool place in Parkland, give him a call.

-- Gregory Campbell left practice early to have an MRI on his wonky hip. Says he doesn't know what the problem is, but it's not getting any better. He's out for tomorrow. Hope to have more from him tomorrow. Stephen Weiss also missed another day with his nagging groin, although he did a lot of off-ice stuff. He's probably also out tomorrow.

-- Wade Belak says he hated getting apples as kid when he would go Trick-or-Treating. Says he and his pals would throw them at cars. Mischievous rascals.

-- Spoke with Bryan McCabe today, says he's feeling much better and he's now skated three straight days. Says he hopes to get into a practice in the coming days and wants to be on the west coast trip next week. So that's good news.

-- Photo courtesy of Associated Press

October 28, 2008

Black Tuesday

Bac2 I take no joy in writing this.

None, whatsoever.

But a few of my friends - our friends - lost their job today.

The Panthers put at least 10 of their loyal employees on waivers today, folks who stood up for this organization over the years. People in sales, charity, PR.

All of this blamed on a crummy economy.

Michael Yormark, whom I hope to speak to tomorrow, broke the bad news to his staff earlier this afternoon. From all reports, he delivered the news with a heavy heart. From what I've been told, five of the cuts came from his sales staff.

I have put in a request to interview Mr. Yormark, but don't know if that will happen. We shall see. This is what I have heard:

- The team is no longer matching employee money in their 401(k)

- Those who have tickets to the 'specialty' clubs will not be allowed in 30 minutes early as has been the case. This is said to save quite a bit of money.

- Overnight/express mail has been banned. Employees have to have approval to FedEx/USPS anything.

I take no joy in writing any of this. But our economy sucks. And it's costing some people their jobs. It sucks. Big time.

Cullimore Signs...New Contest...Cats Give Back

Cullimore Cory Murphy is going to be out for a while with with a strained shoulder, so JM signed Jassen Cullimore to a one year deal. Immigration issues could slow Cullimore. If he isn't here for Thursday's game, Wade Belak could take the sixth D spot.

Weiss and Campbell didn't practice today, questionable for Thursday.

Pete DeBoer said one or both could practice on Wednesday, but if they don't, they probably won't play against the Sens on Thursday.

-- Best of luck to my friends at the Bank who won't be around there anymore. If I can do anything for you, don't hesitate to call. Or email. Whatever.

-- Practice on Wednesday at Incredible Ice. Starts at 11.

-- Our pal Puck Daddy is looking to give some Panthers tickets away. Good ones. Against the Wings. Only thing is, you have to come up with 10 reasons the Panthers are cool. Not saying that's going to be hard or anything, but I've heard of less challenging contests in my day.

-- The Panthers took time out of their day to spread some cheer at two South Florida children's hospitals, visiting Chris Evert and Joe DiMaggio today. I know the guys get more out of it than the kids do, and that's saying something. I know these kids enjoy meeting the players and the mascot and all that, but the guys enjoy doing this, enjoy giving back. Here are some photos thanks to Tenille Lively and the Panthers:

_eja9537 _eja9548 _eja9563 Vokounhospital

October 26, 2008

Day of Rest

CHARLOTTE - Back at my favorite airport, finally on the way back to MIA-USA.

Everyone had the day off in Pantherland today, and I'm sure some of the guys enjoyed the Dolphins game. Big news is that Pete DeBoer is giving everyone tomorrow off as well. A rare two-day weekend if you will.

It is deserved what with all the playing and travelling this team has done in the past few days. I'm going to enjoy my Monday; tee 'em up!

- As expected, Jason Garrison was returned to Rochester today. He'll play against the Hershey Kisses tonight.

October 25, 2008

No BudWeisser in St. Louis

Bud ST. LOUIS -- Welcome to St. Louis, home of the Gateway Arch. If you are heading west on I-70, it's the gateway to the west. Heading east, it's the gateway to Illinois. And from what I've seen, save for Chicago, that ain't much.

The big news is that Stephen Weiss is out with a pulled groin. An hour ago, Pete DeBoer said Kamil Kreps would be scratched. Not the case anymore. He's in.

Raylewis Rookie Jason Garrison is in the lineup tonight, the former -- well, are you ever really former? -- Golden Gopher making his NHL debut. He'll wear No. 52, made famous with the Panthers by Ray Lewis. Why Florida has yet to retire this number I'll never know. I mean, Lewis is a Hall of Famer.

Anyway, Garrison's stay with the big boys will be short indeed. He has a flight booked tomorrow headed east, joining the Rochester Americans for their game in Hersey against the Kisses. Cory Murphy is back home getting an MRI, JM not knowing the results of yet. Expect the Panthers to acquire some D help sometime this week.

Garrison, apparently, was Florida's only Rochester option -- although he's obviously deserved the shot since he's played real well in six games down there. Keaton Ellerby is fresh off a broken finger, so he's not ready; veteran Rory Fitzpatrick has a concussion.

Also in the lineup tonight: Sir Anthony Stewart. Wade Belak too. Gregory Campbell will miss his second straight with the hip flexor.

-- From the 'If the Panthers did this, they would be murdered in the Canadian media' Department: The Blues play host to Carolina on Thursday. All kids in Halloween costumes get in free. OK, it gets better. All adults in costume get in for half price.

Sandler Sure there's going to be a lot of people coming to the game in street clothes who hadn't heard about the promotion begging to be let in.

"What are you talking about, this is a costume! See this cellphone coming out of my shirt? I have a cellphone for a hand! And I'm crazy! I'm crazy 'cellphone for a hand' guy. Now give me some candy!"

-- St. Louis organ person is playing Bon Jovi's 'Living on a Prayer' right now. Never sounded better. Oh! Oh!

-- Some folks up in the press box with ties to the Panthers tonight: former captain (and current Vancouver scout) Scott Mellanby as well as Pittsburgh assistant GM Chuck Fletcher.

-- Organist now playing "867-5309." Please don't call this number...

-- Trivia Time: Jason Garrison is first Panther to ever wear No. 52 in a game.

-- Check out these old school classics Detroit and Chicago will wear in the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. I like....

Wc_jerseychellios3 Wc_chicago_jersey

Gameday in St. Loo

Arch_3 ST. LOUIS - Sitting here a little joint next to Scottrade Center, just kicking back watching the Canes, Gators and Hoosiers. Good times you betcha.

Just spoke with Pete DeBoer, he says Murph has a shoulder injury, with Jason 'Bob' Garrison on his way down from Rochester. The rook should make his NHL debut tonight, although Wade Belak could fill in on the blueline.

No word on how long Cory might be  out, but he was out for a while when he hurt his shoulder last season.

Craig Anderson in net tonight.

- Expect Bluenotes to start Ben Bishop in net after Manny Legace hurt himself tripping on Sarah Palin's red carpet last night. Legace says injury not that serious, and that he likes Palin personally. So there you go.

- Expect Blues to come out firing tonight. They got shutout 4-0 last night to the Kings after mustering just 15 shots. 

October 24, 2008

Chilling in the Midwest - Allen Update

Bobbyknight BLOOMINGTON, Ind. --Taking a day off, visiting family and checking  out the foliage. Sarah Palin is in St. Louis, waiting on the Panthers.

They'll be here soon enough.

Not much to report out of today's practice other than Wade Belak may play in place of Gregory Campbell (hip flexor).

Tomas Vokoun in net tonight, betting on Craig tomorrow.

-- As we expected, Bryan Allen's knee is messed up, JM telling reporters at the Bank that Allen needs 'major' surgery and is out for a while.

Not good news.

See you then...

October 22, 2008

LIVE! From Senator Country

TedwilliamsKANATA, Ontario -- Good evening hockey fans, greetings from atop Scotiabank Place outside Capital City Canada.

Clintonobama Panthers taking on the Ottawa Senators tonight in a big clash as Florida tries desperately to get out of last place in the Southeast Division. Florida is also ranked 14th in the east right now.

I know, it's very early.

The Panthers have lost four straight here and seven of the past eight to the Sens. Last win here came in a meaningless contest when Florida was already knocked out of the playoffs and Ottawa was safe as a bug in the proverbial rug. We'll see what happens here tonight. The Sens coach (not Ted Williams) ripped them for a sorry effort over the weekend. Changed up the lines too.

Mccain Will be back in a bit. Tonight's game is on TSN throughout Canada and in the US on the Center Ice package.

-- For the second straight night, Florida wearing their home blues on the road. In Montreal, it was because the Expos wanted to wear their throwback duds. Don't know what the deal is here. Ottawa is sporting their usual ugly unis with the Trojan Man on the front. He is quite mean looking though!

-- Good to see Barry Melrose get his first win as manager of the Devil Rays last night...

--Lot of empty seats in here. I think hockey might be in trouble up here in Canada. Kansas City Senators?

GAME ON! GAME ON!

--This is the place Nick Boynton and Keith Ballard became Panthers. Wonder if they think about that. I sure do.

-- Have Randy and Bomber sitting behind me in the press box. My first radio broadcast of the year. Digging it...

Tedkennedy PANTHERS SCORE, TAKE THE FIRST LEAD...NASTY BAD GOAL BY GERBER...ROSTISLAV OLESZ PUSHES IT THROUGH...4:45 IN....FLA 1, OTT 0

THE BOO BIRDS ARE OUT...NATHAN HORTON TOP SHELF WHERE GRANDMA MOLLER KEEPS THE COOKIES...AT 5:33, IT'S 2-0 FLORIDE...

-- Crowd cheers when Gerber makes a save. That's baby stuff...

Bobgraham --Aggressive coaching by Pete DeBoer...pulls the goalie midway through first....oh wait, it's a delayed penalty...my bad...

-- OTT Luke Richardson for Elbowing at 9:41

-- Panther PP:Nothing...good kill for the Sens...

--Panthers get some chances, big shot by Frolik...no goal, but another PP chance...

OTT Chris Phillips in the box @ 16:15; FLA now 5-for-24 with the advantage...

-- Make that 5-for-25....and that was ugly, save for Nate saving the puck with a nice kick...anywho, Panthers now going on the kill...

FLA Gregory Campbell for hooking (a victimless crime which is legal in Europe and parts of Nevada) at 18:40....

Bobdole PS: High powered Sens now being outshot 11-2. Think that's about to change...

--Sens goal with 3.5 seconds waved off for a high stick...some fans still cheering, some booing...they are looking it over...

-- No goal say the folks in Toronto...Panthers dodge a big one...

END OF 1 IN OTTAWA: FLORIDA 2, OTTAWA 0

-- OK, almost done with my popcorn and still have most of my Canada Dry left so I guess it's time to start the second period. Sens still on the power play, 39 seconds left when we return. Florida outshoots the Sens 11-3 in the opening period.

Jfk FLA Noah Welch goes in for hooking @ 1:56...Sens back on the PP

DANIEL ALFREDSSON DOES IT AGAIN, SCORES AGAINST THE PANTHERS.. ITS 2-1 AT 2:23...

-- Panthers back on the power play...downloading some music to Ipod so I may be a little slow on the dial...

WELCOME BACK TO OTTAWA MR STILLMAN: CORY STILLMAN KEEPS PUCK ALIVE, ENDS UP BEATING GERBER AND MAKING IT 3-1, NOW LESS THAN 8 MINUTES LEFT IN THE SECOND...

-- Panthers right back on the power play...Stillman's goal came after the PP ended, so FLA goes into this one 0-for-3 on PP this chilly eve..

-- The power play, it's not so good...

-- Skrastins into the box late in the second...

END OF 2, FLA 3-1

-- Back to game action; scoresheet says Horton scored second goal but don't know how that is..it was Stillman...

-- Back to 5-on-5, good kill for the Cats...

Johnquincy -- Radek Dvorak into the box at 3:50...two minutes, he feels shame...

-- Panthers kill things off as Sens are getting in a frisky mood. Anderson has been nothing short of fantastic tonight. Remember when Sens wouldn't take a shot? That's changed. Shots now: Ott 30, Fla 20.

-- Alright kiddies, this is going to be it for me -- unless something drastic changes....it's 3-1 with 3:41 to go...and I gots work to do...enjoy the rest of the game, and please, drive carefully.

Gameday in Ottawa

OTTAWA -- Just got back from the Panthers optional morning skate at Carleton University (home of the Ravens) and don't have much to report. Most of the news came out yesterday.

A number of the guys didn't skate today, instead they did off-ice stuff.

Craig Anderson in net tonight, Wade Belak and Anthony Stewart the healthy scratches.

Talked to JM a little bit about Rochester and he says he's confident things will get turned around there soon. He says don't worry about Shawn Matthias' struggles so far, that he was rushed into playing the first three games and is getting better each day. More on that in tomorrow's Herald.

October 21, 2008

Hello from Ottawa

CanadaflagOTTAWA -- Greetings from Capital City Canada, where it's cold and rainy and just generally yucky.

At least I got a little Prince of Bel Air action going thanks to Atlanta's Peachtree TV (which for some strange reason is still shown on cable systems in Canadian hotels. I am not complaining though.)

Have a little bit of news for ya:

In order to juice things up, Michael Frolik remains in the lineup, playing on the top line with Nathan Horton and Cory Stillman. Brett McLean slides down to take Frolik's spot with Kamil Kreps and Ville Peltonen.

Also, with Tomas Vokoun seemingly played through his bad stretch, Craig Anderson gets the start tomorrow.

That's really it.

Will update with some quotes once I go through the tape.

Good day.

October 20, 2008

Greetings from Montreal

MontrealMONTREAL -- Just back from the morning skate at Bell Center and not much news to report other than, yes, Tim Hortons has bagels. And they are pretty good, thank you very much.

Michael Frolik is in the lineup for the Panthers tonight, Wade Belak taking the night off along with Anthony Stewart. Tomas Vokoun makes his fifth straight start in net.

Word is Florida will see Montreal backup goalie Jaroslav Halak (1-0-0, 96 percent) tonight, Carey Price taking the evening off.

-- Old pal Dave Strader is here calling the game for Versus. He says hello to everyone back in South Florida.

-- Panthers headed to Ottawa right after the game and will practice there tomorrow afternoon. Will have report after that, and will also offer LIVE! coverage of Wednesday's game from Scotiabank Place in Kanata. That game is not being televised locally, but is TSN's early national game so it will be available on Center Ice.

-- More from Montreal later today. Enjoy your afternoon. I know I will.

-- Word is, Bryan Allen is off to see a knee specialist in the coming days. Will try and get more from JM on this situation tonight. Was going to talk to him about it this morning and just forgot.

Boggs -- Oh, and congratulations to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for their huge win last night over the Boston Red Sox. The World Series returns to the Sunshine State, and will be played in what was once known as the Suncoast Dome.

Good luck to the D-Rays in the Series, good to see that franchise turned around.

October 18, 2008

Ricky D in for Isles

Rick DiPietro is out there for the Islanders tonight it appears, the formerly injured goalie getting the brunt of work in warmups.

DiPietro, you may recall, had his season shortened last year because of hip surgery. He later had knee surgery, and that, apparently,has been the source of his problems. DiP only played in one preseason game (a 6-0 loss to these Panthers at the Bank) and this will be his first start of the young season.

-- Also, same lineup for Florida that went Thursday. Yep, Michael Frolik and Anthony Stewart in the pressbox with me (and Brian Biggane!)

October 17, 2008

More Bad News

BryanalleenIf last night wasn't bad enough, it looks like Bryan Allen could be out a little bit longer. Or a lot longer. Will know more after he gets his knee looked at again.

Allen watched today's practice from the bench wearing shorts, sandals and a Panthers sweatshirt. He told me the knee has been swollen for a while and something has to be done. He doesn't know what, but it sounds like more surgery could be neccesary. And that's not good.

Allen says the knee has to be fixed one way or another, and he didn't sound all that optimistic. "We keep messing around with it,'' he said. "Quick fixes haven't worked.''

-- Pete DeBoer says Tomas Vokoun starts for the fourth straight game tomorrow despite Craig Anderson's obvious success against the Isles last year. Of course, TV was 2-0 against the Isles last year too, and he also shutout the Isles. This is what you call a vote of confidence.

And PDeB says he doesn't buy into the notion that some goalies are just slow starters. Says that becomes a mental crutch.

-- Word out of Isles camp is that Rick DiPietro makes his first start of the season tomorrow. Rumors persist that DiPietro is having trouble with his surgically repaired knee although the Isles deny any such thing.

October 16, 2008

Life in Booth's Bubble

BoothOne of the things I love about covering sports is the interesting people you get to meet.

David Booth is one of those interesting guys.

When he first joined the Panthers, he was very frat-boyish, loved wearing outlandish clothes (I'll never forget the yellow-plaid jacket with the pink pants) and just doing his thing.

Talked to him today about his sudden fame going to his head, and he really has no clue people around the league are talking about him. He swears he doesn't read the papers (although I bets he reads On Frozen Pond) or checks out hockey-related websites.

And I believe him. Today's daily clips featured Hal Habib's story in the Palm Beach Post about Noah Welch donating his brain once he, well, you know. One of the TV guys asked Booth about this with Welch sitting next to him.

TV: "What do you think of Noah donating his brain to science?"

David Booth: "What?"

TV: "Yeah, he's going to donate his brain to science."

DB: "Really? Are you guys messing around?"

Noah Welch: "No, it's true.''

DB: "When are you going to do this?"

NW: "Not anytime soon, I hope.''

DB: "Um, oh yeah......''

NW: "Actually, I was thinking of loaning it out to people for a weekend. See how they like it.''

DB: "What was the question?"

Of course, Booth does seem to follow other things. He really seemed to enjoy Michigan losing to Toledo this past weekend, all the while, his Michigan State Spartans remain unbeaten in Big Ten play.

Happy Oct. 16; Panthers-Wild pregame

Pantherlogo Little bit of news out of today's morning skate: First, Bryan Allen is out (he didn't skate because his knee is hurting him again) so Karlis Skrastins gets his first action.

Also, Belak and Kreps back in; Frolik and Stewart are out.

Northstars -- News out of Wild camp is that the already banged up Minnysota team will be without its main weapon: Marian Gaborik is out with what they are calling a lower body injury. That's good news for the Panthers. Should be a defensive battle out there tonight.

-- In a not-so-shocking move, the Blackhawks have put Denis Savard on waivers after Chicago's rough start. Joel Quenneville is in. Could see this one coming, what with Chicago bringing in Scotty Bowman and Quenneville during the offseason. Too bad for Denis; good guy and a good coach. And, the Hawks got their first win of the season last night, beating the Phoenix Jokinens 4-1.

October 15, 2008

A New Day

SunriseBeauty of a day here in sunny South Florida, no?

Bunch of our pals from Minnesota are in town, coming down last night after busting up the Thrashers 4-2 at a nearly empty Philips Arena. The Panthers haven't been very good against the Wild of late, Florida's only win in the eight game series coming when the Wild were in its freshman season.

The Panthers need to change that, pronto.

Thursday's game is big for the Panthers, even though it is only No. 3 of an 82 game slate. See, the Panthers are 1-1 this season, have had four days off and are pretty healthy. Save for Bryan McCabe, everyone skated today and are available for the game. You have to figure the Panthers get two against the AHL Islanders on Saturday, so Thursday's game is big in the idea that this team can hit the road with six points out of an available eight. That's not bad.

Look at the Panthers' upcoming sked: after the Isle, Florida visits Montreal and Ottawa, flies home to take on the red-hot Sharks, then jumps back on a plane to take on a very scrappy Blues team. Eight of the next 10 games (after Saturday) are on the road.

The Panthers need to start getting some points. This next stretch is going to be one heck of a challenge.

-- Nothing much going on at practice today, although it looks like Gregory Campbell and Bryan Allen will be back in the lineup Thursday. Not so sure about Skrastins, although Pete DeBoer says he would like to play him if he's game-ready. Will know more after tomorrow's skate.

-- Also, here's what's going on with FSN:

Thurs., 10/16 at 7:30pm             Panthers vs. Wild                    LIVE on FSN Florida (Available in HD)

Sat., 10/18 at 7pm                    Panthers vs. Islanders             LIVE on FSN Florida

Special weekly in-game enhancements:

  • On Saturday night Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard will wear a microphone offering fans watching from home live comments and reaction during actual game play. 

  • Saturday is also Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night at the BankAtlantic Center.  During FSN Florida’s telecast Denis Potvin and Steve Goldstein will wear custom HFC ties. After the game they will be autographed and auctioned off with proceeds going towards the Panthers Community Foundation. 

  • During Panthers LIVE, FSN Florida’s pregame show, reporter, Frank Forte will offer a special feature on the NHL’s league-wide initiative which provides research and funds to help fight cancer.

October 14, 2008

Golf in the Glades

Golfglades Good afternoon folks, sorry today's post is late, but I spent the day on a golf course carved out of sugarcane fields.

Yeah, made the drive to Belle Glade to see what all the excitement was about. Had a good time, save for the golf. I really need to play more. Or get some lessons. Or just quit.

Anywho, word out of practice is that Karlis Skrastins returned today, apparently cleared by the L.A. specialist (not Manny Ramirez). Also, Bryan Allen is still out, the knee he had scoped giving him some problems.

Will have a more detailed report tomorrow when I make my grand return to work. Hey, everyone needs a day off every now and again.

More from Garrett Hylton in tomorrow's Miami Herald.

October 13, 2008

Drive to a Freebie

Mclovin

The Panthers new marketing ploy, one in which they give away tickets to anyone with a Florida's driver's license (and even those who don't), has been picked up by some national bloggers.

My early take: This is a good way to see the Wings without forking over that extra $25.

Or anything, for that matter.

Anyway, here's what folks are saying about it. PuckDaddy looks at the situation as a marketing ploy by the Panthers moreso than just a way to fill the building. James Mirtle thinks its just more of the same in SoFla.

Me? Whatever. The Panthers are trying to grow their brand down here, although winning will go a long ways toward that. I like that the marketing around the rink is more hockey-centric, and small things (like putting the words: Florida Panthers; on the scoreboard) is a good start. An out-of-town scoreboard would also be nice.

I still say the Panthers need to do more to grow hockey. Show other games on the many TVs in the concourse during the game; play old Panther games on the scoreboard during pregame; get more involved with the youth leagues outside of Incredible Ice (which they own).

Look at Dallas; the Stars helped build rinks throughout the MetroPlex knowing kids who grew up playing hockey would be season ticket holders 20 years later when they could afford it. Seems like the Panthers are selling their wares to the same group of people year after year.

And Saturday night, a stack of about 100 free ticket vouchers to Saturday's opener remained unused at the hostess stand at Quarterdeck. Listen, if you're going to leave those tickets there, at least ask the bartenders and servers to actually offer them to customers. Maybe then, someone would use them.