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LIVE! All-Star Friday with Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Ovechkin, Vinny Lecavalier and Friends

Boallstar3  MONTREAL -- Jay Bouwmeester generated a lot more attention at his second All-Star Game than he did in his first two years ago in Dallas.

Almost all the talk surrounded Jay's contract status and whether he would remain in South Florida. He didn't offer much new, but when you talk about one thing so much, eventually something different may come out.

Like this: Jay at one point said he was going to sit back and wait until the end of the year before making any decision on signing with the Panthers. Problem with that is, Jacques Martin may have already traded him by then. I asked if there was any chance he signs before the trading deadline and Jay was very non-committal.

''I don't know. It's hard to say. You don't want to rule anything out, but we'll have to wait and see. There hasn't been a lot of talk lately. I'm going to take it as it comes. Anything is possible.''

And, on this possibly being the last major event he represents the Panthers at:

''For the time being, I'm there. I want to help that team win.

Boallstar2 ''This year we've made some real strides, we're playing well. I'm just going out and playing. Honestly, I'm not worried about it. There's no sense getting worked up over it now. I have to evaluate things. There's going to come a time when I do have to deal with it. For the time being, I'm going to go out and play hockey. It's hockey, it's not life or death. Having fun is the most important thing.''

Here's the rest of the interview:

On playing in Montreal: ''There's obviously a lot of tradition, it's a neat city. Whenever you come here there's a real buzz. People are passionate about hockey. You look at the history, it's been around forever and they've had a lot of success. Florida is just now growing. It's different.''

On being traded to Montreal: ''If something happens, or whatever, that's the business side of stuff. Right now I'm not to worried about it. I'll take it as it comes.''

Distracting?: ''Not really. I don't get bothered too much with it unless I come to Canada. I'm not really distracted. This doesn't distract me, doesn't affect how I play. I'm not worried about what someone is going to ask me. There's no way around it. People are going to ask question. I just have to handle it.''

Possible last big event as a member of the Panthers: ''For the time being, I'm there. I want to help that team win. This year we've made some real strides, we're playing well. I'm just going out and playing. Honestly, I'm not worried about it. There's no sense getting worked up over it now. I have to evaluate things. There's going to come a time when I do have to deal with it. For the time being, I'm going to go out and play hockey. It's hockey, it's not life or death. Having fun is the most important thing.''

Are you having fun?: ''Yeah, in years past we've played well at the end of the year where we made up ground but it was too late. This year, we're in it at this point. I think everyone is excited about that, we realize we are a good team. People underestimate us a bit, but thats because we haven't had much success. But everyone in our room knows how good we are. We've beaten some pretty good teams.''

Are you faced with a decision?: ''To a certain extent. I said at the beginning of the year that I wouldn't commit to anything because of all the changes. I've seen that before. I've been there six years and I've had four coaches. To jump into the unknown, well, I wasn't ready to do that. At the end of the year, I'll evaluate the whole situation. I'm not going to make a spur of the moment decision. One week into the season you can't go one way or another. You have to let it play out. In the back of your head you have to be prepared for whatever. There are times when decisions have to be made. I'll worry about it then. I'm not worried about it now.''

Talked to Jacques?: ''I haven't personally talked to him about anything. He and my agents have had talks, it's all good. I don't think right now there is a deadline, no ultimatum.''

Any chance you sign something next month?: ''I don't know. It's hard to say. You don't want to rule anything out, but we'll have to wait and see. There hasn't been a lot of talk lately. I'm going to take it as it comes. Anything is possible.''

There will be a lot of money out there: ''That's not always everything. I've never played in the playoffs. That's No. 1. Where that is, whether its Florida or not, who knows?''

Could you see yourself playing in Canada?: ''I grew up in Canada, a place where hockey is pretty big. There are differences everywhere in the league. People are more passionate here. That's exciting when people take an interest like that. It's fun to play, and it's different if you have to deal with it everyday. There are pros and cons to everything. There is something nice about being out of the limelight every once in a while.''

ALEX OVECHKIN

On playing in Montreal: ''It's probably the best place to play hockey to me. I always come here and get excited about the game. This is a good time for me, and I'm real happy right now. It's not just a good game. These fans love seeing the game, like seeing the good players.''

TIM THOMAS

''I hope everyone has fun. Last year I had a lot of fun but was a little bit nervous. This year, I've set a goal to relax and have even more fun if that's possible.''

On being on the home side in Montreal: ''It's going to be strange seeing Montreal's room and come out on the other side of the ice. I've done it so many times from the other side. Just last year, between the preseason and the playoffs, we played Montreal 17 times. Not all of them were here, but at least 10 of them were. It will be a little bit different. We'll see if they boo.''

VINNY THE CAVALIER

Ready for Montreal?: A few people told me what to expect. But to tell you the truth, I came off the plane yesterday and saw all the fans and didn't know what to expect. But when I walked through those doors and seeing the hundreds of people waiting for autographs and waiting for the players to arrive. I don't think anyone expected a welcome like that.

What is so special about hockey here?: The history behind the Montreal Canadiens and all the Stanley Cups that they've won. Obviously it's like a religion here. Everyone loves the Canadiens. For someone being born here, to play here, obviously there's added pressure. But I think it's a good pressure. I think it's a great town.

''There's pressure in any town. There's pressure in Tampa. There's pressure on my NHL team. I think I like to put pressure on myself to be the best that I can play. We're paid to play hockey. It's a great sport. But there's pressure to perform.

Has management eased your concerns of a trade?: Well, they've talked to me and like they've told everyone else when we got back to Tampa. They had a press conference, and they just said they weren't going to trade me. If it were to happen, they would talk to Vinny first. So I don't think it's anything. What they've told you, they've told me.'

Are you preparing for a trade?: I don't know. I don't think so. But in professional sports, you can't predict the future. If it happens, it happens. Like I said, I love being in Tampa. The coaching staff is great, the players are great. I really enjoy being there.

More as it comes...

Comments

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George- good stuff! You really know how to talk to these guys, don't you.

Say, I wonder if JayBo would be more interested in resigning with the Panthers if he knew for a fact that they would definetly make it into the playoffs? I guess only time will tell. If JayBo doesn't resign, I just don't see how JM could let this guy go for nothing!

George, you should ask Jay if he'd be willing to sign a 1-year extension based on the expectation that 1) the Panthers will make the playoffs this year and 2) the salary cap will decrease after the end of this season, thereby jeopardizing his chance for a huge huge payday come July 1st. I would think he would get a better longterm contract after the 2009-2010 season rather than at the end of this season; but I'm not an economist and I can't read the future.

Terrific interviews, George!

Here's my proposal:

Bouwmeester for Lecavalier, straight-up.

:o)

I agree with VanMurph on that i like that trade bye bye bo. By the way i like ur blog on panthers.com

Im for him staying. Even if he rejects offers and goes to free agency. Unless you could really scam a team who isnt going to the playoffs for their star player too, but that just wont happen. Being real, wherever you trade Bouwmeester, he will be going to another playoff team for lesser players which add to equal value.

Im for keeping him, and spending the 7 million commited to him on either him or another player(s).

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