HELSINKI -- Hello everyone, time for a little exhibition hockey.
Hard to believe the exhibition season is almost over.
Seems like yesterday that we were playing Keno in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. And now the season is upon us.
Let's get this thing started.
We have one more game left, the Panthers playing Jokerit tonight at Hartwall Arena. Kickoff is at noon.
Come on back. Just don't tell your boss.
-- The game is over, the Panthers won. Two goals from Cory Stillman, one each from Michael Frolik and Dennis Seidenberg. Good way for Florida to end the preseason.
-- As expected, Jeff Taffe was sent to Rochester after clearing waivers, Christian Backman was released and Nick Tarnasky was put on injured reserve.
-- Read the game play-by-play with other nonesense by clicking the link below...
HELSINKI -- We've always called him Rusty, but now Rostislav Olesz is going by something different.
Like Chad Johnson, the Cincinnati Bengals receiver who famously changed his last name to match his uniform number, Olesz wears No. 85.
So, according to Olesz, team athletic
trainers Dave Zenobi (a Browns fan) and Steve Dischiavi began calling Olesz that and it's kind of stuck. It really hasn't caught on, but he does answer to Ocho. And that's easy to remember.
Word is, the equipment crew is working on a new nameplate for Olesz, err, Cinco to wear at least during warmups.
But Ocho is a little worried about the repercussions from the league.
''I told them we could do it,'' he said, ''but they have to collect the money for the fine.''
-- No real news out of practice today at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. Apparently Jokerit is down to 15
healthy players so they are calling guys from all over to try and play.
Word is they are bringing in some goons from Syracuse.
-- Stephen Weiss won't play tonight because of a groin/flu deal. Pete says he's real hopeful that Weiss can play Friday night against the Blackhawks, but as of last night I had heard he was doubtful. We will see. Weiss is a gamer and could just be in the lineup, but you don't want to mess with those injuries this early in the season.
Keith Ballard is out again tonight, but DeBoer says he's playing Friday. Gregory Campbell is back in the lineup.
-- Don't forget, LIVE! game coverage of tonight's game against Jokerit comes to you around noon Miami Time. They do have internet access here and it is up and operational. So come on by before you sneak out for lunch and check us out. Will probably be on board around 11:45 a.m.
HELSINKI -- Will get back to the hockey here in a minute, but just wanted to share a couple of videos. On Tuesday night, a bunch of Florida Panthers staffers went to a place called Molly Malones in downtown Helsinki to hear some live music. Well, thanks to the efforts of on Randy Moller, the band brought Florida public address announcer Bill Murphy up to the mic.
Murphy, as many of you know, is the lead singer of Fort Lauderdale rock band 'Nobody's Fault.' Anyway, the video is grainy and dark (it was really dark in there) so you miss the shirtless guy dancing (he was obviously rolling stoned). Look for the guy though. He would have been YouTube gold if there was better lighting.
Thanks to Giselle for loaning me the camera. CatCam was back at the hotel charging.
And yes, the band asked Murph to do a second song.
PS: You can find a number of Nobody's Fault videos on YouTube as well.
HELSINKI, Finland -- Just got word that defenseman Dmitry Kulikov has been able to get out of his contract with the Russian pro league and has signed an entry level contract with the Florida Panthers.
The Panthers had until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to get a deal done or Kulikov had to be returned to his junior team in Quebec.
This is very good news for the Panthers because it offers them a number of possibilities.
First, Kulikov can play for Florida this year if the team wants him to. That's the biggest deal. He could also be sent back to the Quebec junior league, but at least now the Panthers have that flexibility.
I don't expect Kulikov to last the season with the Panthers; if he plays in 10 games, the first year of his NHL deal kicks in which means he can be a free agent (see: Bouwmeester, Jay) a year sooner. But, it looks like Kulikov is going to get his chance to show what he can do at the NHL level. He will be on the opening day roster, he will get his nine games in the league. If he excels and the Panthers want to keep him up, they can. If they don't, he goes back to Drummondville.
The NHL hasn't officially accepted Kulikov's contract, but it is in the league office and it looks like everything is OK. Kulikov's agent wired the money to Kulikov's KHL team thereby securing the already negotiated buyout.
-- The Panthers also placed Jeff Taffe on waivers today. He'll be off to Rochester as soon as this trip is completed as long as he doesn't get claimed.
HELSINKI -- Just made the two-plus hour ride home across Finnish farm country and am back in the big city.
Yes the Panthers lost on Monday. To a club team. One currently ranked sixth in the Finnish Elite League. The last NHL team believed to lose to a club team in exhibition play was the Quebec Nordiques in 1991 against Moscow Dynamo.
The Panthers got goals from Nathan Horton and Mike Duco, taking leads but giving them back both times. After a five minute overtime, the teams went to a shootout with Florida going first. Ville Koistinen, Stephen Reinprecht and Michael Frolik were all stopped. On what was the final shot of the shootout, former NHLer Ville Niemenen beat Scott Clemmensen.
Will have video from Pete DeBoer talking about the loss in a little bit.
-- Sorry about the loss of the live feed during the game. The arena we were in didn't provide electrical outlets much less internet, and the hour I had bought expired just as shootout started. Trust me, it was not worth paying those rates to keep going for a shootout period. I have been told that will not be a problem Wednesday nor this weekend inside Helsinki's Hartwall Arena, so come back on Wednesday for a noon live game chat.
-- Spoke to Randy Sexton about the Dmitry Kulikov situation, and here's what we know: The Panthers have until tomorrow (Tuesday) to sign him or he is on a plane headed back to Quebec. Sexton says if a deal isn't worked out with the KHL by tomorrow, the Panthers are obligated to at least have Kulikov headed back. Kulikov will work out with the Panthers in the morning then see where things stand.
Have video of Kulikov, Mike Duco (who continues to impress this camp), Sexton and Ville Koistinen coming up as well.
-- EDIT: Running into the same internet problems at this hotel as we had in Port Hawkesbury. The Pete video is up, but you're going to have to wait for the rest of it. Just can't get it to go through. Will alert when more video is able to get up online.
-- Stephen Weiss left the game with a groin injury in the second. Doesn't sound serious, but we all know how these things can linger.
-- The Panthers will not practice tomorrow. Guess they have some team building stuff to do. I'm sleeping in, thanks.
-- ESPN is back at realignment again, and according to three of their four NHL columnists, South Florida shouldn't have a team anymore. You can probably discount Scott Burnside dumping the Panthers and keeping the Thrashers since he lives in Atlanta.
And I don't think Barry Melrose likes Sunrise very much since there are no cigar ashtrays on the sidewalks leading from the rink to the team hotel for him to ash in when he leaves a team practice and hoofs it back to the room. Pierre LeBrun? Cool guy, just like the previous two I should note, but he wants to expand into Europe and some teams in North America have to go to fit that plan. Read if you want.
-- ESPN brings back its power rankings, and like TSN to the north, ESPN has the Panthers starting the season at 15th in the league. That's eighth in the conference. To take this poll seriously, though, one would have to ignore Tampa Bay at 10th.
-- Here's Pierre's take on the Panthers as he talks about each team in the east:
Give interim GM Randy Sexton credit: He did the most he could with the lemons he was handed. He got something in return for exiting star blueliner Jay Bouwmeester, acquiring and re-signing defenseman Jordan Leopold. He replaced departing free-agent goalie Craig Anderson with Scott Clemmensen and added forward Steve Reinprecht to help alleviate the offseason losses of forwards Richard Zednik, Ville Peltonen and Anthony Stewart. Defensemen Steve Eminger and Jassen Cullimore also left town. The money-strapped team is for sale, which has tied the hands of management. It's hard to foresee anything but another non-playoff season despite the Panthers' having one of the best young coaches in the game, Peter DeBoer, behind the bench.
Burning question: Which Tomas Vokoun will show up this season? The Czech veteran was both brilliant and brutal at times last season, enough that DeBoer started Anderson for key games down the stretch when the Panthers still had playoff hopes. Clemmensen showed his worth last season in saving the Devils' season, so he will be there to push Vokoun, who has two years left on his deal that will pay him $5.7 million and $6.3 million, respectively. Does he become trade bait if Clemmensen shows he's worthy of the No. 1 job?
-- Speaking of moving teams and expansion, all this talk that the league is headed back to Hamilton just doesn't fly with me. That market isn't big enough to support a pro team and will hurt the Buffalo Sabres more than the Leafs. If you can build an arena out by the Toronto airport, then you've got something.
Got to the arena in time for the start of this exhibition game, but the internet is expensive and it is slow.
So bear with us.
Right now, 8:20 left in the first period, game tied at 1. Nathan Horton with a power play goal to get things started.
Hopefully going to live chat soon.
-- OK, well obviously the live chat has worked. Here's the story for postgame: Once the game is over I will go downstairs for updates and such. Then we are making the two-plus hour drive back to Helsinki. Will not have any internet updates. Figure to come back around 6 p.m. MT and we'll be up with plenty of news and video.
HELSINKI -- The Panthers are making the most of their Helsinki trip today and as many of you are still sleeping, our day here is all but done.
Yes, it's 7:15 a.m. in Miami, and we're done.
Had breakfast, practice, a trip to a local sub shop (it's called 'Subway. Isn't that clever?) and the team is now on a team building trip to an island sauna.
Apparently everyone goes into the sauna, gets their sweat on, then they dive into the icy cold ocean. Whatever. Doesn't sound like my kind of fun.
But Pete DeBoer apparently did that when he was here with Team Canada for the World Juniors a few years back so he's taking his Panthers there to do the same kind of thing.
Me? I'm looking for a place to watch some football later tonight (Dolphins kickoff will be 11 p.m. here).
-- No big news out of practice as everyone went through the workout.
-- Gregory Campbell, practicing for the second straight day, was back centering the third line. Shawn Matthias was centering the fourth line alongside Michal Repik and Kamil Kreps.
-- My story on yesterday's first practice here in Finlandia.
-- Heard a rumor that in an effort not to tick off the NHL or its fans, DirecTV might put the Versus games back on. We'll see what happens. Florida's first game Friday is on Versus.
-- On the breakfast buffet today: Bratwurst.
Where are we, Green Bay?
-- Enjoy your Sunday everyone. Will be checking in tomorrow, hopefully before we take the bus/train to Tampere for the Panthers first preseason game here in Finland.
Going to have LIVE! coverage of that preseason game here (internet willing) so come back and check in. Kickoff is 7 p.m. local time, which means it'll be lunch time back in the States.
Don't tell your boss.