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Turbulance in the Air? ... Trouble in Paradise? ... Definitely a Frosty New Year for Tomas Vokoun and Pete DeBoer

Vokoun3NEW YORK -- Greetings and Happy New Year from a virtually empty Laguardia Airport, where it's a bunch of USAir employees and your tired Florida Panthers beat writer wandering the abandoned terminal.

Hopefully there's a flight to Pittsburgh leaving here tonight. Time will tell.

Postgame today brought one big thing to light, and that is Pete DeBoer and Tomas Vokoun have a difference of opinion. PDeB says he's tired of pulling his goalies from games (he's done it in three of the past four) but says he'll keep doing so "until we get 60 minutes from one of them.''

Vokoun says he's sick and tired of the short leash as well, not calling the coach out by name but adding ''this is the first time this has ever happened to me in my career.''

Truth of it is, Vokoun has not looked like anything close to an All-Star since he shut down his former mates last week. That win over Nashville was Florida's last -- the Panthers have gone 0-3-1 since Christmas. Forget about that franchise-record eight wins in December; this latest losing streak kept the Cats at seven.

But Vokoun is having trouble getting comfortable knowing the hook is waiting on the bench. Didn't talk to Craig Anderson today, but Vokoun says Andy "can't like this either.'' Vokoun says it's tough to know you have to play mistake-free hockey to stay in the game, saying his struggles now are ''mental.'' Truth is, goalies have to work their way through rough patches. Vokoun and Anderson aren't getting that chance.

This reminds me of the Alex Auld/Eddie Belfour situation from two years ago. Auld would play well, then have a bad outing and open the door for Belfour. After that, Auld felt Belfour looking over his shoulder and knew one bad game would bring the quick hook from JM. That's what happened, and Auld struggled for much of the year.

PDeB basically said after the game that the goalie position is open, and he's waiting for someone to take it and make it their own.

There's definitely some friction here.

PDeB is a no-nonsense guy, and that's cool by me. But he didn't give his goalie any support today by speaking the truth. Why take out Vokoun? ''He gave up four goals on 21 shots,'' the coach said, alluding to an Islanders goal in the first that was overturned by the refs with Jon Sim getting a goalie interference call. PDeB basically said the Panthers got away with one there.

And they did. It was a bad call.

Says Tomas:

''It's hard mentally when you get scored on and get pulled. You start playing, not scared, but you have to do everything right. That's the worst thing that can happen to a goalie. Obviously there were goals that could have been stopped. It's a mental thing now.

''[Being pulled] has never happened to me in my career and I'm sure Andy doesn't like it either. I'm not blaming my mistakes on anyone but me, but when you get pulled in two of three games, it's going to shake your confidence. If you tell a player if he makes one mistake he's pulled, that's extremely tough.''

Should be an interesting few days. Word is, the Panthers were going to take New Year's Day off, but they have ice booked and will now likely practice in Pittsburgh.

And Anderson goes against the Pens on Saturday.

Newyearorange Have a great, safe and Happy New Year folks. Will see you on the PA side of life.

And like I've said before, please drive carefully tonight.

Oh, and enjoy the Winter Classic from Wrigley Field tomorrow. And the FedEx Orange Bowl. Who's in that one again? Cincinnati? Really?

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This is better than a soap box opera. Two jilted goalies fighting for the approval of the man in power, Peter DePear(his favorite fruit.)I think the Panthers are playing par for the course myself. Win a few, lose a few. They're not a play off team and Depear said it the best, no talent equals mediocrity. Personally if Depear wants to lay blame he should look at his own assistants. They're power play stinks and they're defense is last in any league.

Deboer has my support, but in reality Vokoun is correct on this one. You only pull a goalie if he's overwhelmed or putting forth a poor showing. Letting in a greasy goal happes, and a goalie of the magnitude of these will let those in, but will stop the incredible shots too.

Where is the quick hooks on stiffs like Horton, and if you were going to give Matthias a chance, doesn't he deserve more than 6 minutes of ice time? Why even bother? These guys are lazy, and when the stiffs were off "healing"..guys like Campbell and a few others came to life. Horton BLOWS...Should have shipped his dead ass out instead of Jokinen. Jokinen gets you 35 goals per year, Horton is a waste.

In all honesty, you could keep Booth, both goaltenders, Campbell, Ballard, Matthias, Frolik, try and keep Bouwmeester, McCabe and ditch the rest..blow up the team. No heart, little talent, and FAT checkbooks. Pete, wanna shake up this squad, you need to trade someone with a higher magnitude than a Belak...Honestly, ship Horton out. The guy is a nothing.

i agree with Mr. O. Horton must go. and I back PD...Vokun is no kid he should get tough and give the performance hes payed for

look at the dolphins, they have changed the attitude of the team and organization and it started at the top.

Until this organization decides that they own a hockey team and not an arena we are going to get the same attitude throughout. DeBoer wants to change the attitude of the team but his hands are tied because the GM won't make the moves needed, that is to get rid of Horton and his lazy attitude.

When your best forward shows up every once in a while and scores goals after the game is over to pad his stats you need to make changes.

bring up the kids get what you can for this lazy bunch and change the attitude.


The country club has to end and the man to do that is Cohen and Martin,

Mr. Cohen you own a hockey team and you need to put more into that then to have an organization only interested in the arena and the entertainment at the arena

Vokoun is 100% correct, you cant keep pulling goalies every game, he needs to pick a goalie and let them get into a grove. These goalies are looking over there shoulder after every goal to be pulled now. Debour is making a joke out of this.

Blaming goaltenders is very easy but in reality these goaltenders are top 5 in the league in Save Percentage. The Powerplay is 27th in league! The offense and the PP are the issues - not the goaltenders!! Spend some time coaching the PP vs calling out Vokoun and Anderson.

I also would rather see the coach call out the players. I realize he's trying to send he's just trying to shake the team, but he better be careful, the goalies' PSYCHE can easily be rattled. Let's not only see the coach call out some of these lazy stiffs(Horton, Zednik, Stewart), but let's see JM send the appropriate message to the team. The leafs are going to looking to make moves. Horton is from up there, so they should have a nice package for us in return. I'll take Antropov, Ponikarovsky, Moore, Grabhovski, etc...Make a deal and get of this Dead Weight JM....

I think you have to be careful with goalies, everybody remembers Canadiens/Roy incident during 1995/96 season.

JOL

I agree with Mr. Obvious. We traded the heart of our team in Jokinen, a guy who signed here b/c he wanted to change the culture of losing, and we signed Horton to a 6 year deal which seems to have caused him to regress. We can't play MM QB though b/c Horton has oodles of talent and has put up impressive numbers as a very young guy, but the effort since the signing has been sub-par. You put Horton next to Jokinen and you'll get the numbers b/c Horton cannot create his own scoring chances. Call it lazy or whatever but he needs a playmaking center next to him (and not Weiss) that can create chances for him or take attention away from him so he can float around the circle waiting for a nice wrist shot.

I have to disagree, Vokoun needs to stay consistent. One night he is hot the next he is terrible. I have watched a lot of games where Vokoun lets in a goal that I could have stopped. "Vokoun says it's tough to know you have to play mistake-free hockey to stay in the game" Sorry for the money Vokoun makes he needs to play better. Vokoun doesn't like getting pulled, well I don't like watching the Panthers lose. Yeah, "it's tough," that is why you get paid millions of dollars, because it is tough, earn your money and quit crying.

The problem with guys like Horton is that due to his LAZINESS, he's probably always had either a play-making center and/or better talent around him...But he doesn't make players around him better...He has to see that sometimes his team needs him to lead through hard work, determination, and willingness to win battles--clearly he plays for himself, and therefore will never earn any respect from true hockey fans...

With Jokinen, I think it would've been interesting to see if he could've adjusted under a different coach's system...Maybe so, but the tensions between JM and him were too great, so he had to be moved. He's a very talented and classy guy, but this team still lacks a true leader for some of these young guys to look up to...Ballard and Boynton are solid probably for the Dmen, Stillman should help, but they probably still need an old-school guy like Skrudland and/or Mellanby to teach them some lessons along the way... Also, some more talent overall would be nice, so that's why I think we should make package deals for our players. It's great to see Hagman put up those numbers for other teams, but if that would've never happened if he stayed here with this surrounding cast...There must be other players out there that also need a change of scenery, so these are the type of guys that JM needs to find..Start with Horton, J-Bo if he won't sign, maybe even Vokoun... Goalies are always available. Vancouver just got LaBarbara for a 7th Rounder...

Slapshot,

Stillman is intended to be the Skrudland, or Mellanby of this team. I would have enjoyed seeing DeBoer and Jokinen together. Horton needs a change of scenery, and I actually do think he'll "rise up" somewhere else. He's a follower, not a leader. Can't trade Vokoun, my opinion is that Anderson leaves this season since he's UFA, we have Vokoun in the bag for a few more seasons.

What needs to be done is package Bouw and Horton for a nice package including a 1st line center, and more young defense to replace the traded Bouw, and Cullimore next season. Hopefully Allen recovers fully, McCabe is cheaper next season...

I'm tired of "next years" however I hate to say it..this looks to be another one of them. You can't get beat by Tampa twice, and the Islanders..then say you should be scooping those points up because they're teams to beat up on..I have a feeling that's what Tampa thought of us to get BACK IN the race.

Vinny Lecavalier and Evgeni Artyhukin? for Natahan Horton and JayBo.

Vokoun, Stillman, Zednick and an ice cold case of Heineken for Ilya Kovalchuck.

This will give us two top ten offensive threats than can take over a game... add much needed toughness coupled with the role players and emerging stars ( booth, frolik, weiss? ) we already have while bringing up and keeping Mcardle and Matthias. Cory murphy Just came off IR and add Garrison or Lojek to the roster.

I'd much rather see the efforts we were getting when we were rotating the likes of Mcardle & Glass and playing without the Stillmans & Hortons.

Despite the winning steak it was the beauty of the effort. Watching those games was exciting.Those kids worked their butts off and suprisingly it reflected on the scoreboard. Is it really that difficult to see the difference in this team when certain players are out of the lineup. God Bless all, Happy New Year and Go Panthers!!!!!!!!

MR O-- I think most of us now agree that Horton needs to go. Stillman was a nice addition, but doesn't appear to be the 'Ideal' captain-type... Not a problem, he is a gifted passer, has a knack for the net that this team needs, and hopefully can help with our true young hopefuls in Frolik and Matthias...Repik seems too small, and the others probably aren't NHLers, so we have to make deals to improve...

If a package of Horton and J-Bo works best, then do it. However, many times you can get more by trading guys separately. The Leafs are dying to make trades, and it sounds like the Avalanche had interest as well. I'd take Antropov and Blake for Horton and Zednik... Basically it's Antropov for Horton, but Horton may appear to have more upside, so I'm sure JM would want more... Even if we give up a bit in the deal, I think getting rid of Horton is a plus--his attitude and body language on the ice bring negative energy to the rest...

HP--You're in fantasyland if you think you're getting anything close to Vinny or those deals, but I like your optimism... I wouldn't want Kovalchuk, as he's a talented cancer like Horton... Murphy will probably be traded for a draft pick, as they clearly don't like him here. I like him for the power play and his offensive work at the point, but our team doesn't seem to know how to get the puck to our Dmen like we need them to... J-Bo is way too passive. I know he doesn't have a great slapper, but it's good enough--he just needs to use it more...

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