HELSINKI -- Good afternoon to everyone from Finland, your temporary home of the Florida Panthers hockey club.
Of course, you may be thinking to yourself, 'That George is an idiot. He just said good afternoon, when it is clearly still the morning here in South Florida.'
And you would be right. I am an idiot. But thanks to the seven hour time difference, it is the afternoon here. In fact, it's 1 p.m. here and the Panthers bus just left for the practice rink.
Will have updates and videos (internet willing) later in the day. So far, it's been a long but uneventful trip. Which is good. All the luggage is here (have video of that being unloaded by captain Bryan McCabe) and all seems well enough.
-- Nick Tarnasky did not make the trip because of his broken orbital bone so Florida has 26 players on its current roster.
The Panthers and the Stars are about to get going here, and it looks a lot like last night: A bunch of minor leaguers against a NHL roster. Of course, roles are reversed. Tonight, the Panthers are the Panthers and the Dallas Stars may as well be the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Alex Auld in net for Dallas. Always good to see him.
-- Speaking of 'good to see,' Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post has made his way up to the press box tonight. Brian, who now covers the Dolphins, has been on the injured reserved list after having leg surgery after an accident in the Buffalo area.
-- And now, GameTime...
The Panthers have announced their cuts and there are a few surprises. First off, Martin Skoula, Adam Keefe and Eric Himelfarb have been outright released from their try outs. They may be invited back at some point, will ask.
Going to Rochester: Peter Aston, Luke Beaverson, Chris Beckford-Tseu, David Brine, Brady Calla, Mike Caruso, Evgeny Dadonov, James DeLory, Matt Duffy, Keaton Ellerby, Jordan Henry, Jamie Johnson, Kenndal McArdle, Graham Mink, Victor Oreskovich, Tyler Plant, Andrew Sweetland, Clay Wilson and Mike York.
The Panthers now have 27 players with three goalies, nine d-men and 15 forward. This will continue to get pared down, but it looks like Jason Garrison and Christian Backman are headed to Finland. We'll see what happens with Dmitry Kulikov.
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Look at that dateline. Look at it real closely.
Home feels good.
Landed in Fort Lauderdale, got home, threw a load of laundry in and then began running some errands.
Fun, ain't it?
Now, I'm gearing up for another hockey game, this one on home turf. The Panthers have played six games in eight nights. The trip took us into two countries, four provinces, Texas and into four time zones. The Panthers are playing once at home, taking Thursday off then practicing Friday at the Billboard. Then it's off to Finland.
See why I have to get the errands done now?
Anywho, off to the arena here in a little bit. OnFrozenFilm should be up and rolling in the next few hours with video and sound from Pete DeBoer, Stephen Weiss, Radek Dvorak and new captain Bryan McCabe.
If you aren't going to be at the game tonight, come on back and hang with us here.
The Panthers announced today that Bryan McCabe will be the team's captain this season and the first to wear the 'C' since Olli Jokinen was traded away in 2008.
Cory Stillman and Stephen Weiss will wear the A.
Here's what the Panthers press release says:
“The selection of Bryan as the captain of our club was something that became obvious to our staff after working with him for the past year,” said coach Pete DeBoer. “He exudes all of the attributes you look for in a leader and will be a natural extension of the coaches and our message into the dressing room.”
McCabe, 34, has previously served as captain of the NY Islanders during the 1997-98 campaign and also served as an assistant captain with each team he has played for over his 14-year playing career (NY Islanders, Vancouver, Chicago, Toronto, Florida). The Calgary, Alberta native has played in 986 National Hockey League games, registering 457 points (130-327-457) and 1,615 PIM.
McCabe, who was acquired by Florida from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sept. 2, 2008, played in 69 games with Florida last season scoring 15 goals with 24 assists. He joins Brian Skrudland (1993-97), Scott Mellanby (1997-2001), Paul Laus/Pavel Bure (2001-02) and Olli Jokinen (2005-08) as the other team captains in the club’s 16-year history.
Will be talkng to McCabe, DeBoer and others sometime this afternoon at The Billboard.
So, more later (including LIVE! coverage of tonight's Stars game).
Feel free to discuss below...
-- The team is going to announce its cuts sometime today, but here's who we know are gone:
According to the league waiver wire, Chris Beckford-Tseu, David Brine, Clay Wilson and Graham Mink have all been waived by the team. I do believe they all have to go through waivers to be able to go to Rochester (which starts camp tomorrow). Will get an update on this as well.
DALLAS -- Good evening hockey fans, your good pal GR coming to you LIVE! from atop AmericanAirlines Center in beautiful Dallas.
The Stars/Mavs have a new toy these days as a beautiful HD scoreboard had been brought in. To make things even better, huge HD screens also hang from the end zones.
They are not needed. They are pure overkill. And man, they are cool.
I was told a few years ago that the Panthers were planning on getting a new scoreboard. Whatever happened to that? Well, good thing they got those billboards planted out on the roadside. And the large ad screens out in the concourse.
Question: Name at least one thing the Panthers are among the top five in the league in?
Answer: Worst scoreboards.
-- Going LIVE! here in a few minutes so come on back, will ya?
DALLAS -- The Panthers are required to suit up at least five NHL regulars in preseason play, and they are doing just that tonight against the Stars.
To paraphrase Pete DeBoer, this is the last chance a lot of these kids are going to have to impress the coaches. The Amerks start camp on Thursday and the Panthers are going to be making some cuts soon.
Who's in the lineup tonight? Well, Scott Clemmensen is. Rostislav Olesz is. Martin Skoula is. That's about all I remember. The majority of the team practiced after the Rochester morning skate and that team willl make out the major league roster on the ice tomorrow at The Billboard.
The Stars are rolling out their regulars tonight, the AHL Texas Stars get their chance tomorrow in Sunrise.
-- Have video up of Pete DeBoer and some good stuff from Joe Nieuwendyk listed below. And, yes, CatCam is no more on this site. I've given the name back to FSN, although at least mine has some sound.
-- Dennis Seidenberg and Dmitry Kulikov are back in South Florida getting some visa stuff done so they can fly to Finland on Friday. Kulikov cannot play in a regular season game, however, until he buys out his KHL contract and officially signs with the Panthers. Both are expected to play tomorrow.
-- Everyone was on the ice today, including Keith Ballard and Gregory Campbell. They, too, should play tomorrow.
-- If you haven't voted on who you think Pete DeBoer should honor as the new captain of the Panthers, there's still plenty of time to do so. Right now, Stephen Weiss is running away with it, with Bryan McCabe, Cory Stillman and Keith Ballard fighting for second.
Love to see where these votes are coming from as well. A lot of votes from throughout North America, yes, but we also have votes from throughout Europe, Russia, Asia and even Australia. Keep it coming!
-- Don't forget, LIVE! internet coverage of tonight's game starts around 8:15 Miami Time. I'lll have a cold Diet Dr. Pepper sitting nearby.
Football Night in Dallas: Slow Day for the Panthers ... Gregory Campbell Still Out ... Radek Dvorak Back Wednesday ... Captain to be Announced Soon (With an All-New On Frozen Poll!)
DALLAS -- Took a side trip from the airport here to the Grapevine Mills Mall, a sprawling living and breathing ode to capitalism.
The place may or may not be bigger than Sawgrass Mills; it does, however, have better stores, restaurants, movie theaters, ambiance.
Didn't see a PF Changs, but they probably had one somewhere.
Anyway, went into the Dallas Cowboys store to see what the mood was. A lot of people were still milling around, picking through what was left of the Opening Night souvenirs from the new stadium.
I asked if they had any New York Giants stuff. They didn't. So I bought a Cowboys shirt. I was blinded by the blue star, I admit.
You're welcome Mr. Jones.
-- Did the Dolphins play this week?
-- The Panthers got in early this morning from Calgary and promptly went to bed. Then, they gathered at the other AmericanAirlines Arena and did some workout stuff. Both squads ended up skating at the Stars training facility, the ice at AA Center not available because the Dallas Mavericks were using the arena for something or other.
''I felt we needed to be out on the ice,'' Pete DeBoer told me via the AT&T Miami Herald BatPhone as he walked back to the team hotel. ''With this schedule, we can't waste days.''
The Panthers and the Stars meet up here tomorrow night. LIVE! coverage, as always, right here.
-- Keith Ballard and Bryan Allen practiced today with Gregory Campbell (hip flexor) the only one held off the ice. DeBo says it's a precaution and that's it. All three players will participate in one of the two Dallas games -- either the one here or at home on Wednesday.
-- Radek Dvorak could make his preseason debut on Wednesday, DeBo telling me that the team felt it didn't make much sense for Dvorak to come all the way to Dallas just to fly back to Fort Lauderdale with the team. Dvorak has been skating since coming back to South Florida. He missed the start of training camp because he was attending to family issues in the Czech Republic.
-- Have just been informed that FSN's locker room camera is dubbed CatCam. I did not know this since I never get to watch their broadcasts. Should I change the name of my videos or just play dumb (something I'm good at)? Let me know your thoughts.
I'm leaning toward changing the name, by the way. Feel free to leave your suggestions below.
-- Yes, the Florida Panthers will have a captain this season -- and perhaps as early as this week. Pete told me last night that he and the coaching staff will decide on who will finally replace Olli Jokinen as captain of the Panthers.
I asked whether he thought about whether the players would vote on this and he said it would be better if he did it.
''Sometimes it becomes a popularity contest,'' he said.
And if that was the case, they would probably all vote for me. Except for Stillman. And probably McCabe. And Booth, Horton and Weiss. I think Rusty would vote for me. Vokoun wouldn't.
Who would you vote for if given the chance? Well guess what? It's your chance!
Time for our first On Frozen Poll of the season. Enjoy kids. Enjoy.
CALGARY -- The Panthers had another rough Alberta night on Sunday, dropping the final Canadian exhibition game of the preseason 5-2 to the host Flames at the Saddledome.
With former Panther defenseman Jay Bouwmeester playing against his old team for the first time since last June's trade, the Flames took over play in the second and outscored Florida 5-1 after David Booth's first period goal.
Bouwmeester factored into the scoring with an assist. Former Florida captain Olli Jokinen was the game's second star with a power play goal in the third and two assists.
Florida led 1-0 going into the second after Booth opened the scoring at 5:19 of the first. In the second, Calgary got three goals before Stephen Weiss opened the third with a goal 48 seconds in to make it 3-2. Calgary then got a pair of goals within a 25 second span as Jokinen scored with fan favorite Theo Fleury following.
Tomas Vokoun got the second straight start in net and played the full 60 minutes for the first time in the preseason. Vokoun made 31 saves off 36 shots. Florida, outshot 22-12 through the first two periods and 36-26 overall, were playing without its top four defensemen. Rookie Dmitry Kulikov also did not play.
The Panthers power play, one of the worst in the league for most of last season, was 0-for-5. Calgary went 2-for-3 with a man advantage.
The Panthers left Calgary on Sunday night and flew to Dallas where the team will practice at the Stars facility on Monday afternoon. The Panthers play the Stars Tuesday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas, the team's seventh game in nine nights.
After winning its first two exhibition games in Canada (both against the Senators, in Halifax and Ottawa), Florida dropped its past three (at Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary).
Florida returns home Wednesday morning and will play host to the Stars at BankAtlantic Center later that night. Wednesday's game will be Florida's only preseason contest in the Sunshine State. The Panthers depart Friday for a weeklong trip to Finland where the team will play two more exhibitions before opening the regular season Oct. 2-3 with games against Chicago in Helsinki.