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Where in the World is Chad Kilger? Home, Apparently

Kilger2Well, he's not in South Florida, eh.

You all might remember Kilger, the former Toronto winger who is still listed as a member of the Florida Panthers although he has never suited up for the Panthers despite Florida trading for him last year.

Steve Simmons, a columnist for Sun Media in Canada, wrote a column about Kilger dropping the game like a bad habit upon the Leafs trading him to Florida at the trade deadline last year.

If you remember, the Leafs were staying on Fort Lauderdale beach at the time. First, the Panthers traded for Toronto's Wade Belak; then, just before the deadline hit, they made another deal with the Lauderdale Leafs, this time for Kilger.

A Florida staffer had gone to the hotel to get Belak and they were westbound and down, headed for Sunrise when the phone rang. The staffer was told to to turn around and go back for Kilger. He never got into the car, leaving the staffer and Belak sitting around for an hour.

Kilger apparently called the Panthers, told them he had some things to take care of back in Canada and left. For all I know, he's never stepped foot in Broward County again. The Panthers suspended him when he refused to report, and even though he was under contract for this season, he is still under suspension and seemingly has no interest in playing again.

So what happened? Well, there are plenty of rumors floating around out there, almost all of which have to do with his family in one way or another. I've never written any of the rumors I've heard (and they are varying) because it's irresponsible. I have no knowledge of any of them being true and cannot verify if they are legitimate or not.

In this biz, you hear a lot of rumors regarding the private lives of hockey players, and I've never written a single word about that before and I'm not going to start with a guy I've never even met. You want to read about stuff like that, there are plenty of websites out there that cater to that side of the game.

Anyway, Steve Simmons' column -- which came out the morning the Panthers were to face the Leafs in Toronto -- sparked the curiosity of a local columnist in Kilger's hometown of Cornwall, Ontario. This person (no byline) decided to head over to Casa de Kilger and see what the dealio is.

He didn't get very far. Kilger, who apparently had plenty of nice stories written about him in this paper over his 25-plus years of playing hockey, didn't feel like talking and slammed the door in the reporter's face.

I would have followed him to Publix, tried to talk to him in the deli. That's just me though.

As for the Panthers, they are out a third round pick because of Kilger's refusal to suit up and play for the Sunrise Six. I'm pretty sure GM Jacques Martin knows what's going on with Kilger and was very defensive about it last year (even harshly defending Kilger for working through his problems), although JM's seemed to soften his stance on the subject now.

I think Kilger not reporting really bothered JM last year because a) the Panthers could have used the help and b) JM was really feeling the heat at the time and didn't want to be constantly reminded they gave up a draft pick for a guy who didn't want to play anymore.

The Panthers got a pick back from the Leafs in a roundabout way; when Florida traded Mike Van Ryn to Toronto from Bryan McCabe, the Leafs threw in a fifth round pick.   

As for Kilger's future, who knows. His contract expires this year and I would guess he's a free agent although the Panthers might have something to say about that since he didn't fulfill his contractual obligations with the Florida organization.

That is if Kilger still wants to play. Doesn't sound like hockey is very high on his list of priorities right now -- or has been for a while.

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