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52 posts from October 2008

October 13, 2008

Say Hey, it's Monday

Thanksgiving First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Canadian friends. Enjoy your day of football and hockey. And have some turkey for us.

Secondly, it was kind of slow at Incredible Ice today, a handful of guys (Weiss, Allen, Ballard and Campbell) not skating because of various bumps and bruises. Pete DeBoer says all four should be back on Tuesday.

Big news of the day is David Booth being named the league's Second Star of the Week. Booth, you may recall, scored two goals Saturday night -- including the game-winner against Atlanta in overtime. Daniel Sedin is the first star, Martin Brodeur is the third. Congrats to David.

-- Karlis Skrastins skated this morning for the first time since being diagnosed with a 'lower neck, upper back' injury. PDeB says Tins won't be going to Los Angeles, but his X-rays are. Says there is a doctor out there considered the best in his field, going to go over these and see what happens. Tins says he feels good, just waiting on the word to be cleared. So that's good. With Allen and Ballard out today, Florida only had four defensemen on the ice.

PDeB says Wade Belak could slide over and play some D if needed.

-- It's Monday night. Go Browns.

October 12, 2008

Sunday Conversation

Well, the first weekend of the Panthers' season is in the books, so let's look back at what we've seen:

-- David Booth is money. Absolute money. Always seems to be in the right place, is taking a lot of shots (some errant, some right on) and is using his speed and strength to create a lot of problems. Scouting report should read: Watch No. 10. Of course, with Weiss and Zednik on his line, that could open things up for them.

-- Good to see the loud ovation for Richard Zednik last night. He seemed to appreciate it. Didn't notice him get too bothered by the media in Raleigh, but that is going to change when we visit Montreal next week. Maybe they can sneak him out of the arena on the equipment truck.

-- All those worried about Tomas Vokoun can chill.

-- Jay Bouwmeester should have looked exhusted last night, only he didn't. Bo's tally Saturday night: 34 minutes, 53 seconds. Bryan Allen also played over 30 minutes, going 30:22.

-- Nathan Horton was much better on faceoffs Saturday than he was on Friday.

-- Bryan McCabe's back injury looked serious initially, and I'm sure everyone is real happy it's nothing major. He should be back once the bruising goes down and the muscles in his back calm down.

As far as people calling out TSN for irresponsible reporting (remember they came out Saturday morning and said McCabe had a broken back), there is a side story to this. From what I've heard, the source TSN apparently trusted was a good one. It wasn't Jacques or anyone from the Panthers, but from Carolina instead.

Remember, the Carolina medical staff looked at Bryan and diagnosed him with some sort of fracture. It would be very easy for a member of the Carolina media/broadcast team to ask a member of the medical team what happened, get their diagnosis, then pass that along that info to friends in Canada.

Of course, we know now the intial diagnosis was premature and wrong; McCabe's MRI revealed no fracture.

Anyway, that's just the way I saw how that story developed. I've gotten a lot of emails from people saying TSN made up the story and that's just not true. They had a good source, but that source turned out to be wrong. It happens.

October 11, 2008

Update Soon

Just saw Peter DeBoer in the hallway, says the results of Bryan McCabe's MRI is in, although he didn't know the results. He'll update us around 5:30.

Now its going to be Jacques with the update as Pete deferred comment.

Panthers now say MRI was NEGATIVE and he is day to day with a 'contusion and lower back strain.'

Also, Frolik and Stewart in tonight; Vokoun as well. Out: Belak and Kreps. Stewart now wearing Marino's 13.

McCabe Report "Speculation"

TSN is reporting that Bryan McCabe's back injury is very serious, with X-rays showing he has at least one broken vertebrea.

According to the Panthers, that's just not true and is "absolute speculation" on their part.

McCabe is at the doctor now (it's 2 p.m.) and we should have some sort of update before the game tonight.

Now, from the looks of things, it didn't look good last night. McCabe could put no weight on his left leg after he awkwardly went into the boards and had to be gingerly helped off the ice at RBC Center. I wouldn't be surprised if this was indeed a very serious injury. We'll just have to see what happens. Will update the site as soon as I know something more concrete.

Stay tuned.

It's Time for Atlanta

PepsiSUNRISE -- Back in South Florida after a very nice flight home from Raleigh. First time on JetBlue and I gots to say I was very impressed. Nice people, nice plane, good television. I think I''ve found a new airline.

Anyway, flight was fine save for the joker sitting next to me. Guy named Steve. Really annoying. Never shut up. All he wanted to do was talk. He says he'll be at the hockey game tonight, so it really is a small world.

Don't have anything new to give you, just letting everyone know I haven''t forgotten about you. Liked a lot of what I saw out of the Florida offense last night, although the defense and goaltending left much to be desired. That, I believe, will change. Unfortunately I think the offense will change too. This team is still going to have to be creative, but I liked what David Booth brings to this team, and I really liked Cory Stillman's all-around game last night.

And those of you bagging Tomas Vokoun already can give that one a rest. Dude had a bad night. He knows it, we know it. Once again, TV showed his character as he was one of the first players to come out into the room to face the media. He wasn't shying away from anything, and the only person he criticized was himself. That's called accountability and I hope guys on the team noticed. You mess up, you face up to it. TV has always handled himself well here since coming to Florida, and I'm glad that hasn't changed.

Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton, who didn't have the best debuts last night, also came out to talk. And they were very critical of their own play. I think that's telling. These guys are not afraid to take the blame and move on.

That can be very healthy and very liberating. Don't let things linger.

And tonight's a brand-new night.

Hope to see a bunch of you out there -- especially those who won tickets in our giveaway earlier this week.

The home opener is only a few hours away. Just don't bang on those cowbells too loudly. I still have a headache from that guy Steve talking my ear off on the flight. Hope I don't see him tonight. But I have a feeling I will.

-- Hope you all enjoyed FSN's feature on Peter DeBoer and the interviews with his buddies in Dunnville. That was a fun trip. I enjoyed meeting all those guys. Thought Mitch Rubenstein and Frank Forte did a nice job with the piece.

-- If you need an early hockey fix, Josh Friedman of 790 The Ticket will be broadcasting live from the Big Bank today starting at 4. I'll be joining him sometime in the 4 o'clock hour so there's your warning.

October 10, 2008

Stormy Night in Raleigh

Stormy1RALEIGH -- Welcome to Opening Night, Tobacco Road style as the Florida Panthers open up against the homestanding Hartford/Carolina WhalerCanes.

It's raining outside, but nice and comfy inside the RBC Center, one of the few rinks with a scoreboard as bad as BankAtlantic Center -- although this place beats BAC for its meaningless banners. BAC may have Celine Dion, but N.C. State has papered the rafters with more plastic than you'd find on South Beach tonight.

Anyway, we're about to get going here as the Hurricanes are being introduced to the home crowd. No one has dived yet, so that's good. Fun to come up here and not have to talk about that during the morning skate. Believe it or not, but Pete DeBoer didn't bring that subject up.

The Booth-Weiss-Zednik lines starts tonight, with Bo and Allen starting on the blueline.

Updates throughout the game, but since it's on TV and radio, nothing LIVE! tonight.

But feel free to keep coming back. Should be fun.

PS: That picture is of the Carolina mascot, Stormy.

--As I've said before, love the personal TVs we have up here in the pressbox. Just watched some Family Guy, now the Seinfeld 'Chinese Restaurant' episode is on. Plus the baseball. Lot of choices. And hockey too!

GAME ON! GAME ON!

-- Happy Hockey Season everyone!

Nothin' Finer than Carolina

Carolina RALEIGH -- Opening Night just a few short hours away. Panthers took to the ice this morning, the Whalercanes deciding to take the morning off. They have a game in Tampa Bay tomorrow night (going head-to-head with Game 2 of the RayLCS) and must have thought 30 minutes off the ice would help them out.

Nothing major going down, other than Pete DeBoer saying Tomas Vokoun will start both tonight and tomorrow at home against the Thrashers. Tonight's healthy scratches: Noah Welch, Anthony Stewart and Michael Frolik. So, yeah, Cory Murphy clears waivers one day, in the lineup another. PDeB says Murph deserves to play. So he has that going for him, which is nice.

Tonight's lines:

Stillman-Horton-Olesz
Zednik-Weiss-Booth
Belak-Kreps-Peltonen
Campbell-McLean-Dvorak

The D:

Allen-Bouwmeester
Ballard-Boynton
Murphy-McCabe

The G:

Vokun
Richards

-- Odds of the day, courtesy of Bodog.com

Will Sarah Palin Fall while dropping the Puck at the Philadelphia Flyers Home Opener?: Yes 10/1

Will Sarah Palin get in a Donnybrook with the Flyers Captain at Center Ice?: Yes 1000/1

Will Sarah Palin get Booed more or Cheered more when introduced onto the Ice at the Flyers Home Opener?: Booed Even; Cheered -130

Will Sarah Palin wear a Philadelphia Flyers at Center Ice?: Yes Even; No -140

October 09, 2008

Down to Rochester -- UPDATED

Just got word from the Panthers that Stephen Weiss, Radek Dvorak and David Booth have been activated, with Shawn Matthias -- and not Michael Frolik -- headed to Rochester.

May have another roster move tomorrow, but you never know.

Here is my advance for tomorrow's game..

October 08, 2008

Roster Set -- Sort of

The Panthers announced their opening night roster, with some pretty big exceptions.

Stephen Weiss, Radek Dvorak, Karlis Skrastins and David Booth are on the injured list, but can be activated for the opener. JM says he has until 5 p.m. Friday to activate players who are ready (Weiss and Booth both told me today they are playing).

Which means there were no cuts. Cory Murphy, Shawn Matthias and Michael Frolik remain. Anthony Stewart is on the team, no need to worry about him.

Also, as of now, no Jassen Cullimore. JM says they are negotiating.

Contest Winners Revealed

MinerviniThanks to all who entered The Miami Herald's Super-Spectacular Florida Panthers' Opening Night Giveaway.

We had close to 1,000 entries in less than a week, so I'll call that a success.

Unfortunately, we only had two prizes to give away. Not all of you could win. But thanks to the overwhelming response, we'll be doing more of this as the season progresses. First, would like to thank the Panthers and Nadia Abich for coordinating this thing and taking care of the particulars.

Here's how it worked. I put every entry onto a slip of paper (it filled up a plastic bag), brought that to practice today and had FSN's Craig Minervini pull out the winning entries. Thanks to Craig for playing along.

Here are your winners.

The winner of the Grand Prize, which includes four tickets in the ADT Club to Saturday's season-opener (along with a limo ride to and from the game) goes to Daniel Pineyro of Boca Raton.

The runner-up prize, which is two tickets to Saturday's game in the AvMed Club, goes to James Quinn of Miami.

Congratulations to both winners. Have a blast!

No Captain -- Yet

Captain Just got back from practice and have a ton of work, so this is going to be short and sweet.

First, no one captain to start the season. Pete DeBoer says he wants to take more time to make his decision, with Stephen Weiss agreeing that not having a one captain plays more into the Panthers' team concept this season. May have a captain soon, but it also could be a rotating deal.

The three alternates: Weiss, Bryan Allen and Cory Stillman.

Murphy -- Don't know what's going on with Cory Murphy, although it doesn't sound like he's been picked up. Caught him coming out of the arena today, said he knows the FLA blueline is very strong and he's not upset with the Panthers for waiving him. If he is assigned to Rochester, he'll go, saying he'll continue to work his tail off in hopes of coming back.

-- We're going to talk to JM sometime around 3, so they'll be another update.

-- Karlis Skrastins did not practice again today, he won't be playing this weekend.

-- The two kids are still here, Shawn Matthias and Michael Frolik participating in today's action.

Olesz Off Hook

Rusty Rostislav Olesz will not be suspended for his hit on Islanders' defenseman Chris Lee.

Lee, if you remember, had to be taken off the BAC ice on a stretcher. He was taken to Broward General where he stayed the night. Lee was released from the hospital Tuesday morning.

UPDATE: Talked to Rusty today, says he felt really bad about things, explaining that he was coming full speed and Lee turned and never saw him. Rusty adds he went and talked to the different team doctors to get updates after the game, and called Lee last night to apologize for what happened. Says Lee was cool, has a concussion. Rusty felt bad because it looks like Lee is out a week and he's a guy trying to win a spot on the Islanders roster.

October 07, 2008

Final Contest Day -- Ends Wednesday at Noon!

Beezer Since we're ending the Super-Spectacular Opening Night giveaway contest at noon Wednesday, I figured I would open up the voting early.

I do realize that Tuesday's question was misleading, as I read the Panthers' media guide wrong.

Tampa Bay did not play the last game at Miami Arena; Philadelphia did. But the Bolts did help open the Sunrise Arena (and was Florida's final opponent of the 1997-98 season).

Anyway, all answers -- even those of you who entered other teams -- were counted. Figured I screwed up, you shouldn't have to pay for it. So we'll just forget today's question ever happened, cool?

All of those who have entered so far have their names written on official entry sheets; the rest will be added tomorrow with the winning names pulled at a very special ceremony at the arena. The winners will be contacted by the Panthers and you will have fun on Saturday. I'll be working, but you'll have fun. You and all your good-timing pals. Enjoy yourselves.

So, once more, here is the prize pack:

- Four (4) tickets in the ADT Club (free food and drinks) for the Panthers' home opener at BankAtlantic Center on Saturday, Oct. 11 versus the Atlanta Thrashers.

-- Limo service (35 miles max each way) to and from the game.

-- A Panthers team signed hockey stick

-- Four (4) Panthers baseball caps

-- Four (4) Panthers backpacks

Also, there is now a runner-up prize added: Two (2) tickets in the Club level for Saturday's opener against the Atlanta Thrashers. These tickets will be left at will call in the winner's name.

And, as asked, here are the RULES.

Now, here is our seventh "not real hard, especially if they are factually correct" trivia question:

Daily Question No. 7 -- Oct. 8, 2008

"Name one of the two members of the Florida Panthers' 'Den of Honor'.''

HINT: Both players were part of Florida's 1996 Eastern Conference championship team. One was the captain, the other, well, this is easy enough.

Email your answer, NAME, AGE, ADDRESS AND CONTACT (CELLPHONE) NUMBER TO --

grichards@miamiherald.com

Remember, this contest is open to folks 18 and over who live in the Tri-County (Dade, Broward, Palm Beach) area only.

Good luck!

Murphy Waived

Finally got confirmation from the Panthers that defenseman Cory Murphy has been placed on waivers; was done early this afternoon. He has until noon tomorrow to find out where he'll be playing.

If Murphy gets claimed, then he moves on.

If he doesn't, the Panthers could assign him to AHL Rochester and continue to pay his NHL salary. Granted, that isn't too big of a deal. EDIT Murphy will make $875,000 this season.

Looks like Jassen Cullimore could be sticking around after all.

Lunch with the Cats

The Panthers had their annual luncheon in Boca -- annual as in their second -- today after an early practice at the Big Bank.

Nothing much going down today, everyone practiced today with a few exceptions. Karlis Skrastins told us he was off to get another opinion on his upper back/lower neck, an injury that may have been triggered during an off-ice workout. Also, Gregory Campbell didn't participate because of a hip flexor.

No word yet on Rostislav Olesz, although Peter DeBoer says the league requested the clip of the Lee hit and they would review it today. "I don't have an opinion on it,'' PDeB said.

Also, PDeB adds that he's going to meet with guys tomorrow and we should know a) who the sixth captain in franchise history will be, or b) that the Panthers aren't going with a captain. At least for the start of the season. But at least we'll know something.

-- Also, throwing an extra set of tickets to Saturday's opener into the prize pool. So, you now have two big prizes you can win! Good seats too, located in what we used to call Stanley's. Don't forget, contest ends Wednesday at noon so get your emails in. One per day, please.

Day Six, in the City

Sexcity Guess what kids, it's time for the sixth day of The Miami Herald's Super-Spectacular Florida Panthers' Opening Night Giveaway.

Remember, the contest ends Wednesday at noon, so keep on getting those emails in. Do the math: It's today and tomorrow. That means two.

Again, here is the prize pack:

- Four (4) tickets in the ADT Club (free food and drinks) for the Panthers' home opener at BankAtlantic Center on Saturday, Oct. 11 versus the Atlanta Thrashers.

-- Limo service (35 miles max each way) to and from the game.

-- A Panthers team signed hockey stick

-- Four (4) Panthers baseball caps

-- Four (4) Panthers backpacks

And, as asked, here are the RULES.

Now, here is our sixth "not-so-hard, if you have Google" trivia question:

Daily Question No. 6 -- Oct. 7, 2008

"The Florida Panthers played their final game at Miami Arena in 1998 against the same opponent they opened the Sunrise Arena against later that same year. Name the team."

HINT: Don't call them Devil Rays, although you'd be close. And I would count it, just because I like saying 'Devil Rays.' And 'they' don't like me saying 'Devil Rays.' But what is a Ray without the Devil? Anywho, congrats to the Tampa Bay Rays for winning their share of the ALDS. And after all this, you all better get this answer right.

Email your answer, NAME, AGE, ADDRESS AND CONTACT (CELLPHONE) NUMBER TO --

grichards@miamiherald.com

Remember, this contest is open to folks 18 and over who live in the Tri-County (Dade, Broward, Palm Beach) area only.

Good luck!

YESTERDAY'S ANSWER (even though no one got it wrong):

Daily Question No. 5 -- Oct. 6, 2008

"What college did Panthers' winger David Booth attend?"

HINT: His alma mater beat Notre Dame in football a few weeks ago. And many celebrated.

Answer: University of Michigan Wolverines.

HA! Just kidding Sparties (and Sparty Jr.)!

The real answer, is of course, THE Michigan State University Spartans.

-- Also, expect to see Rostislav Olesz -- as good a dude as he is -- suspended at least one game for Monday night's hit. Could be two games. Which would allow the Panthers to keep on one of their youngsters, and depending on the status of Karlis Skrastins, perhaps both Matthias and Frolik

-- Practice Tuesday is at 9 a.m. at the Big Bank. Sorry folks, but unless you know someone higher up than me, it's closed to the public.

October 06, 2008

LIVE! From the kinda-sorta Opening Night

Pressbox Back in my usual spot atop the Big Bank in Sunrise, getting ready for another exciting night of Panthers Preseason Hockey!

OK, so I'm really not all that stoked having seen this bunch five times already. But it is cool since save for a couple of holdouts, most of the team will be on the ice for this one. As reported earlier, Stephen Weiss, Radek Dvorak, David Booth, Jassen Cullimore and Karlis Skrastins are not playing tonight for various reasons. Noah Welch is the healthy scratch, bringing Florida to 20.

Those are the only scratches tonight. The Alternate caps: Bryan Allen, Bryan McCabe and Cory Stillman.

Remember, weekday night kickoffs at 7:30; 7 p.m. on Saturday and 5 on Sunday. Been quite some time, and I forgot.

FYI: Game tonight broadcast on 790 The Ticket, so limited LIVE! updates.

-- Old pal Jon Sim not in the lineup for the Isles. He scored in the third period of their win the other night against Boston, so I guess that gets him the night off. Good for him. Rick DiPietro in net for the Isles, Tomas Vokoun going for the Cats.

GAME ON

-- They just announced that tomorrow night's Janey Jackson concert has been postponed. Denis Potvin is both upset and angry about this announcement. I can't calm him down!

-- Anthony Stewart takes the first penalty of the night...6:51 into the first...

--

Live, from Estero, it's Monday Night!

TinafeyThe Florida Everblades -- your ECHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers -- opened training camp on Monday but weren't allowed to practice inside their home rink.

Apparently Vice Presidential candidate Tina Fey planned to hold a rally at Germain Arena in Estero later in the afternoon.

Fey has become a popular part of the "Saturday Night Live" ticket this election season, the self-proclaimed 'Hockey Baby Mama' bringing plenty of attention wherever she goes. According to this Herald report, the arena is expected to be packed tonight.

Perhaps the Panthers should have invited Fay -- or her alter ego, Gov. Sarah Palin -- to rally at BankAtlantic Center tonight before the big hockey game between the host Panthers and New York Islanders.

If 8,000 are expected in Estero, does that outdraw the Panthers about 100 miles away in Sunrise?

Odds say, sadly, yes.

BACK TO HOCKEY: We're staying on Florida's west coast. Just got word that the Tampa Bay blueline got a little help, former Florida d-man Lukas Krajicek coming back to the Sunshine State along with LW Juraj Simek from Vancouver in exchange for defenseman Shane O’Brien and RW Michel Ouellet.

Krajicek, one might remember, was part of the Roberto Luongo deal in 2006. He's the forgotten guy in the deal, one in which Florida sent its franchise goalie west in exchange for Bryan Allen and Todd Bertuzzi.

-- The Flyers are the latest team to visit West Point to do some "team bonding.'' Didn't really work out that well for the Panthers, although I got a cool T-shirt out of the deal.

-- The Sens get three out of four in Europe. Break 'em up!

-- Carolina suffers another injury, Scott Walker out six weeks after having hand surgery.

Morning Skate - Update 1

Lockerroom Live from the Big Bank in Sunrise where the Panthers gear up for their final exhibition game of the preseason.

First off, David Booth, Stephen Weiss and Jassen Cullimore are part of the early skate, so count them out.

UPDATE: Radek Dvorak (ribs) and Karlis Skrastins (upper back) are also out tonight.

Second, if you thought this place was filled with ads before, you ain't seen nothing yet. Seriously, they are everywhere, from the rafters down.

At least they had people cleaning the glass this morning. And the ice looks nice. And I like the 'Sunrise Welcomes You' sign. Other than that....ugh.

Hope all that helps cover some of that payroll.

-- JM says Skrastins is seeing another specialist today, and that if the report isn't real positive, that could land him on the injured list to start the season. Obviously, that could open up another roster spot, although not sure it would go to Cullimore. He would need a contract to stay on with the Panthers, but, crazier things have happened.

And Now, No. 5

JoedAnd now, the fifth day of The Miami Herald's Super-Spectacular Florida Panthers' Opening Night Giveaway.

Remember, the contest ends Wednesday at noon, so keep on getting those emails in. That means ya'll got three more chances to win.

Again, here is the prize pack:

- Four (4) tickets in the ADT Club (free food and drinks) for the Panthers' home opener at BankAtlantic Center on Saturday, Oct. 11 versus the Atlanta Thrashers.

-- Limo service (35 miles max each way) to and from the game.

-- A Panthers team signed hockey stick

-- Four (4) Panthers baseball caps

-- Four (4) Panthers backpacks

And, as asked, here are the RULES.

Now, here is our fifth "really hard" trivia question:

Murph Daily Question No. 5 -- Oct. 6, 2008

"What college did Panthers' winger David Booth attend?"

HINT: His alma mater beat Notre Dame in football a few weeks ago. And many celebrated.

Email your answer, NAME, AGE, ADDRESS AND CONTACT (CELLPHONE) NUMBER TO --

grichards@miamiherald.com

Remember, this contest is open to folks 18 and over who live in the Tri-County (Dade, Broward, Palm Beach) area only.

Good luck!

YESTERDAY'S ANSWER (even though no one got it wrong):

Daily Question No. 4 -- Oct. 5, 2008

"What Panthers defenseman was selected to play for Team Canada in the 2006 Torino Games as well as the Eastern Conference in the 2007 All-Star Game in Dallas?"

Answer: Jay Bouwmeester

-- Don't forget, got a preseason game tonight at the Big Bank; Panthers vs. Islanders, 7 p.m. Might want to get those tickets now, you know, before they run out!