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50 posts from November 2009

November 30, 2009

Tough Night for Panthers, Ballard and Vokoun ... Colin Campbell says No Suspension ... Andy vs. Clem?

Vokoun First off, Tomas Vokoun appears to be fine. He had to have his left ear stitched up and according to GM Randy Sexton, the hospital was going to have him transported to the airport where he was to meet the team and fly home.

No concussion, no inner ear injury apparently.

So that is terrific news.

Here's what happened tonight.


ATLANTA – Not everything went wrong for the Panthers on Monday night, it only seemed that way. For Keith Ballard things couldn’t have gone worse.

Ballard not only knocked goalie Tomas Vokoun out of the game by inadvertently smashing him in the head with his stick in the first period, but the winning goal deflected off his stick with 5.5 seconds left as the Thrashers pulled out a 4-3 victory at Philips Arena.

Vokoun had to be taken to a local hospital where it was feared he had suffered a concussion after the hit by Ballard.

General manager Randy Sexton said after the game that Vokoun only suffered a lacerated left ear that needed stitches. Vokoun was expected to be transported from St. Joseph’s Hospital on the north side of town to the airport to meet the team for their charter flight home to Fort Lauderdale. It’s not known how long Vokoun will be out.

Ballard2 Ballard, usually affable with the media and one of the most popular players in the locker room, refused comment as he headed to the team bus.

“There’s not a guy who feels worse than he does,’’ said fellow defenseman Bryan Allen. “He means well, he was doing the right thing. He was showing he cares. It was an unfortunate accident and I feel bad for him. I know he feels 100 times worse than anyone else.’’

The play happened when Vokoun gave up a goal to Ilya Kovalchuk on a rush. Kovalchuk’s initial shot was stopped, but Vokoun froze as he sat kneeled on the ice and the Atlanta star scooped up the still puck and popped it through.

Ballard, racing back, saw Kovalchuk score, pulled back with his stick and swung it at the goal cage. Ballard’s hard baseball-type swing instead hit Vokoun in the head. Ballard didn’t seem to notice that he hit the goalie and not the top crossbar as he reared back and swung again, this time hitting the side of the cage away from Vokoun.

The Florida goalie lay prone on the ice for about five minutes after paramedics and team medical staff summoned by Rostislav Olesz attended to him. Vokoun was taken to the hospital and the team was updated on his status.

Ballard needed to be talked to by his teammates as he was very upset about his accidental hit. Allen said he and captain Bryan McCabe spoke to him. Sexton and coach Pete DeBoer said they spoke to him as well.

“It’s a scary thing,’’ said center Stephen Weiss. “It’s obviously an accident and it’s tough to come back and focus I would assume. It was similar to the [Olli Jokinen/Richard Zednik] thing. I’ve never been in that position, but I would think [Ballard’s] mind was elsewhere the rest of that game.’’

Clem Scott Clemmensen entered trailing 2-1 and the Thrashers went hard at him.  Chris Thorburn scored early in the second for a 3-2 Atlanta lead, but the Panthers tied it on Michael Frolik’s goal late in the second.

Florida had a bunch of chances to grab the lead late as Weiss and Nathan Horton both missed opportunities. Weiss couldn’t score with Johan Hedberg out of position with 1:12 left, and Horton failed to grab a loose puck in front off a rebound with 21 seconds remaining.

After Horton’s play, the Thrashers moved into the Florida zone and Maxim Afinogenov fired a shot toward the net. Ballard, sliding into position, moved his stick to block the shot but instead deflected it past his goalie.

The loss was Florida’s fifth straight and third consecutive defeat in regulation.

“It’s a tough loss, a hard one to swallow,’’ said DeBoer. “Managing the puck at critical times has been an issue for us through the streak. The same thing bit us tonight.’’

-- Colin Campbell, Gregory's dad and NHL discipline czar, says that Ballard will not be suspended for taking a whack at his own goalie. He tells Ken Campbell of The Hockey News that the highlights of that hit -- and everything else that goes with it -- is punishment enough.

Check out Ken Campbell's THN blog -- it's really good -- here.

“It will be on every sports highlight show for the next week,” Colin Campbell said. “If that’s not enough of a punishment…”

Ken Campbell also talked to Buffalo's Ryan Miller about Ballard's hit:

“I don’t know about a suspension,” Miller said, “but you’d like to think the guys on your team, when they show anger, they’re going to be cognizant of what’s around them. That’s just being angry and being blind to what’s around you. That’s no way to handle your emotions on the ice. I don’t think a suspension is in order. The team can handle it internally. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like that.”

-- Sexton wouldn't say if Alexander Salak was going to be needed to come south to backup Scott Clemmensen, but that's something that could be done tomorrow. The Americans are on a Canadian roadtrip, so it would be a longer flight than it they were in Rochester.

Chris Beckford-Tseu could have been an emergency backup and driven over from Estero, but the Everglades goalie was recently recalled to Rochester as well.

-- So, it looks like Wednesday will be a battle between Craig Anderson and Clemmensen.

Anderson, as you all know, was Florida's backup goalie parts of the past three seasons and played very well as Vokoun’s backup the past two seasons.

Andy Anderson left the Panthers on July 1 as Colorado offered him a chance to be a starter; with Vokoun being the Panthers highest paid player, that opportunity wasn’t here. He wanted to stay in Florida, but wanted to start. He signed a two-year deal with the Avs on July 1. A few hours later, the panthers signed Clemmensen – who filled in for the injured Martin Brodeur last season – to a three-year deal to replace Anderson.

Anderson has played well for the Avs, went 10-2-2 in October as Panthers struggled that month, winning just two of first 10. Anderson shut out Tampa Bay 3-0 on Monday, his first shutout of November snapping a three-game personal losing streak. Anderson went 4-5-3 in November.

Anderson was 29-15-11 in three seasons with Panthers, 28-14-10 past two years. When Panthers traded for Vokoun in June 2007, Panthers offered him a two-year deal to be the backup.

UPDATE: Keith Ballard Hits Tomas Vokoun In Head: Goalie Leaves Ice on Stretcher, In Hospital; Should Return Home Tonight ... Now, With Video

Ballard ATLANTA -- Florida defenseman Keith Ballard may have seriously injured teammate Tomas Vokoun when he swung a stick in frustration and hit his goalie by mistake.

Ballard was trying to hit the cage in disgust after an Atlanta goal and instead hit Vokoun in the head with a baseball swing as he was moving back up. The stick hit Vokoun flush in the mask, his head taking the full brunt of the blow.

Vokoun was on the ice for the past five minutes; Ballard skated off after hitting Vokoun, but Rostislav Olesz went over and quickly called for paramedics.

Vokoun hit in the side of the head and there was blood coming from his left ear where he was struck. Vokoun moved a little bit after being struck and did remove his own helmet by pushing it off just as he hit the ice and crawled into the net.

They have rolled him off the ice on a stretcher and he is apparently been taken to Grady Memorial Hospital not far from the arena. 

UPDATE: According to team spokesman Justin Copertino, Vokoun suffered ear lacerations and was alert when they took him off. He was treated on the ice by Dr. Gillogly of the Thrashers medical staff. Panthers athletic trainer Steve Dischaivi went with Vokoun to the hospital.

UPDATE2: Just spoke with goalie coach Robb Tallas who says he doesn't think Vokoun suffered a concussion and thinks he was just in serious pain and stunned because he didn't know what hit him. That's believable. I'm sure he couldn't believe he got hammered by his own teammate. Anyway, Tallas thinks Vokoun should be cleared and released from the hospital in time to catch the team charter back to Fort Lauderdale tonight.

More as the night goes on...

Here's what happened: The Panthers turned the puck over in the Atlanta zone, with Ilya Kovalchuk picking it up and going on a breakaway; Vokoun stopped the initial shot, but sat still on the ice as the loose puck was there. Kovalchuk easily picked it up and scored to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead.

Ballard moved in on the play and after the goal was scored, swung his stick toward the crossbar; he obviously didn't see Vokoun moving back as Vokoun was whacked by the two-handed swing.

Ballard again swung his stick -- missing Vokoun this time -- bashing it against the side as his goalie roiled back in obvious pain.

And let's get this one thing straight: It was obviously a mistake -- a stupid mistake but that nonetheless.

Ballard does that quite a bit, as do other hockey players. He was ticked about the goal (he was racing back and Kovalchuk beat him to the loose puck) so he went to smash his stick against the cage. Unfortunately for both, Vokoun got in the way. Just a brutal smack. Never seen anything like that before and I don't think we'll ever see Ballard do it again.

By the way, he's playing as is backup Scott Clemmensen.

Expect Alexander Salak to be called up tomorrow from Rochester -- if he isn't on his way to the airport right now.

More as we go...

Here's the video of the hit courtesy of someone on YouTube:

Soup For You: Florida Panthers @ Atlanta Thrashers ... Pick Your Section Night in ATL

Soup ATLANTA -- Pretty boring day here in the Peachtree Street/Drive/Parkway City as the Panthers are in town trying to snap a four-game losing streak in a building that hasn't treated them well in the past.

But, the Cats have played better here of late, winning five of the past seven.

Gregory Campbell is back in the lineup today after missing the past five games with a shoulder injury as well as other things. He's going minus the full shield he had to wear after taking a slap shot to the face in Washington.

“It’s tough to sit back and watch,’’ he said. “I don’t like to sit out. A guy like me is pretty pro-active. I try to do whatever I can to get back. That said, you can learn by watching and I tried to sit up high when I was out. It gave me a different perspective.’’

-- How bad is the Panthers power play right now? Pete DeBoer is looking at someone new to play on it.

“Big Mac might be next,’’ he said, joking about enforcer Steve MacIntyre.

Probably wouldn't hurt.

But the numbers are no joke, and DeBoer seems to be tiring of talking about the problems. Statistically, Florida’s special teams are the worst in the league heading into Monday’s games.

Florida’s power play entered ranked 28th in the league by scoring just 13.3 percent of the time. The Panthers penalty kill is ranked 29th, with opponents scoring 15.5 percent of the time.

Aside from Carolina, the Panthers are the only team with a power play and penalty kill ranked in the league’s bottom third; the Hurricanes’ kill is ranked 20th, their power play 29th.

Part of Florida’s problem on the power play is getting the puck in play. Too many times the Panthers have struggled to get the puck into the opposing zone as it is cleared almost as soon as it enters. That leaves the Panthers chasing instead of setting up.

"We don't have a [Ilya] Kovalchuk who can carry the puck up the ice with possession,’’ DeBoer said about Atlanta’s star forward. “We have to do things the hard way."

In the six games going into Monday, the Panthers were just 2-for-23 on the power play – both goals coming against Toronto. That was the only time the power play had multiple goals this season. The power play has been shut out 13 times.

(*) The Panthers didn’t need to make a roster move for the injured Kenndal McArdle because Campbell was cleared to play. McArdle was back in South Florida getting his injured shoulder evaluated.

(*) After facing a number of non-divisional opponents, Monday’s game kicked off a stretch in which the Panthers play three of the next four against teams from the Southeast. The Panthers had played 10 straight against non-divisional foes.

(*) Are the Panthers wore out?

The team is in the midst of a brutal stretch of games, playing at least every other day for a six week stretch. The next time the team will have consecutive days off between games is the NHL mandated Christmas break.

Since Nov. 12, the Panthers have played 10 games in 17 days, going 5-2-3 during that stretch. Starting with Monday’s game in Atlanta, the Panthers will play 14 games in the following 24 days with three sets of back-to-back games thrown in for good measure.

There’s no doubt the Panthers are struggling late in games. In the past two losses, the Panthers have been outscored 6-1 in the third by Toronto and Nashville. Last week, the Panthers lost to Pittsburgh after the Penguins scored two unanswered goals in the third period. Florida was tied 1-1 with the Predators on Saturday before they scored three unanswered to win 4-1.

Thrashers -- About five minutes into the game here and the estimated crowd is about 3,500. Asked by an Atlanta scribe if Florida's crowds are this bad, and it's safe to say -- save for a preseason game, and even then -- I have never seen The Billboard this deserted. A Marlins game? Yes. Panthers, no.

It's a Monday night and it's the Panthers in town, I get it. But...

There are six people (one rocking a Leafs jersey) in the first four rows of the section directly next to the Thrashers bench. Looks about the same next to the Panthers. The entire first row behind the penalty box is empty with about 10 people in the following four rows.

-- Not to keep harping on this, but the 50/50 raffle here tonight raised just $864. Yes, less than $1,000 for a town that doesn't have casinos. The winner took home a cool $432.

November 28, 2009

Bad News for this Fella

Vokpreds NASHVILLE -- Good evening hockey fans and greetings from Music City USA.

I missed out on this trip last year and was bound and determined not to miss out again this time around. If you've never been to Nashville, you really ought to put it on your to-go list. Great town, vibrant nightlife. Just a cool place. I dig coming here.

Tonight the Panthers look to snap a three-game losing streak (0-1-2) against a fairly red-hot Preds team that was slowed by the Blues last night. The Preds played at home last night while the Panthers flew up after losing to the Maple Leafs, so should be interesting to see how things go.

Just spoke to Pete DeBoer and he confirmed what we all just assumed: Scott Clemmensen in net for the Cats. As you can see from my picture above, Tomas Vokoun is still very popular up here. As he should be.

He was an original Pred and spent eight seasons here. I've seen at least half a dozen Vokoun jerseys today and one of his fans even went out and bought a Panthers 29 jersey to try and get him to sign it for them. This picture was taken across the street from the arena and its the old mustard yellow alternates. Thanks to Bennett for posing for the pic. Hope you had a nice dinner.

Other than the change in net, the lineup stays the same. Gregory Campbell is on the trip but not playing tonight; he could go Monday in Atlanta (why do we get two nights in the ATL and only one in Nashvegas? Ain't fair I tell ya.)

-- Talked to Pete a little bit about the team's lack of that killer instinct. They just don't bury people. Had a chance to knock out the Leafs and didn't do it. Will have more of that later.

-- Panthers seem to be more comfortable on the road. Not counting the Helsinki games (those were neutral site games) and Florida is 3-5-3 at home and 6-4-1 on the road. Pete says he thinks the team is playing well at home and doing the right things. That, he says, will translate into road wins eventually.

After winning three straight on the road at Buffalo, Detroit and New York, the team came home and lost two in overtime to the Penguins and Rangers, then lost in regulation to the Leafs. Getting two of six home points almost negates those six road points, no?

-- Florida played 12 games in October and went 4-7-1 with nine points; through the first 12 games of Novembre, the Panteros are 6-3-3 (15). Pretty big difference.

November 27, 2009

Time to Help if You Can: Wednesday Pregame Party for a Good Cause

Gameworks Just got this information yesterday and figured quite a few of you might want to help out:

Andrew is a 7-year-old second grader at American Preparatory Academy.

He is a beautiful, bright, and funny little boy. Although he is in second grade, he always performed far beyond his  grade level. He has an older brother in high school and a sister who is still a toddler. His mother is deaf, so grandma is very active in their lives.
  Last year Andrew Broomfield was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He has been fighting for his life ever since.

He has gone through radiation therapy as well as several medications to shrink the tumor. It seemed to be working at one point, however, when the attempted to wean him off his meds, his tumor began to grow again. The latest prognosis is very poor.

I believe they have estimated that he has about a month or so to live. The tumor has caused a lot of swelling and as a result has impaired his ability to walk and speak. He has very limited mobility. He is relying on a wheel chair and his sign language to get by.

The Event:

On WEDNESDAY, there will be a fundraiser at the Sawgrass Gameworks from 5-9 p.m.

We're hosting a "Friends and Family Night" to raise money for him and his family who have been devastated since the diagnosis.

Ten percent of all food sales that night (of those who present our flyer) will go to Andrew.

There will be four-hour unlimited game cards for sale -- and all proceeds go to Andrew as well. One card for a $25 donation; Two for $40; Three for $50.

We will also be raffling off big ticket items from Best Buy and the Florida Panthers to raise funds for the family. Colleagues, friends, and I have been contacting everyone we possibly can to see how else we could help. We really do not know how much time he has left and aren't sure if he will be coming back to school, so this is our chance to show him our love and support.


Jeanette Ojeda

Attached is the flyer which you can print out and bring to Gameworks so Andrew's family gets credit for what you spend that night

Download GAMEWORKSflyer.

I'll stop by Wednesday before the game against the Avs and hope you all will too.

Make Like a Tree and Leafs: Ville Koistinen Sent to Rochester ... Tomas Vokoun In

Roch Defenseman Ville Koistinen was sent to Rochester this morning, one day after clearing waivers.

I know Pete DeBoer didn't know much about Koistinen when he was signed on July 1, saying then that the team's pro scouts were high on his ability to play on this team. That hasn't happened. But, Koistinen seems to have come to the Panthers at the wrong time.

When he was signed, Florida only had Bryan Allen, Bryan McCabe and Keith Ballard inked to contracts and Allen was an unknown commodity because of his knee. The Panthers later got Jordan Leopold and Dennis Seidenberg, and rookie Dmitry Kulikov beat out Koistinen for the sixth D spot.

I think Ville came in here, we had 10 exhibition games, I think he played eight of them,'' DeBoer said this morning. ''The reality of the situation was Kulikov outplayed him for that spot. Knock on wood, we've been healthy on defense. And [Koistinen] hasn't had an opportunity to get back in on defense and earn a job back. This is a chance for him to go down and play defense and keep him ready for when he gets an opportunity."

I then asked Pete if what he meant by that was that Ville had gotten a fair look in the preseason.

"We had [four] new defensemen come in this year and we had a long preseason and an opportunity to audition all of those guys,'' he said. ''We purposely gave the new guys as many games as possible and coming out of camp, we went with the six we were most comfortable with. He wasn't in that mix. Usually you have some injuries that give you another opportunity, but that hasn't come along, so he's got to wait for that chance.''

Predsthird -- Tomas Vokoun in net tonight. Pete said he plans on having Scott Clemmensen play this weekend, so he would go tomorrow in Nashvegas. Or not. If Vokoun has another great night in net, I could see him going against the Preds (in their new third jerseys) tomorrow as well.

-- Gregory Campbell still out it appears.

-- Here's Craig Anderson taking on the mighty Blue-And-White. As always, enjoy:

November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving: Ville Koistinen Clears, Stays with Cats ... Who's in Net?

Sanders First off, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Hope you all have a great day of eating and visiting with family. My work will be done here in a few hours and then I'll be able to celebrate a little bit.

First bit of news: Ville Koistinen cleared waivers today and will remain on the Panthers roster for the time being.

Randy Sexton wouldn't tell us what his plan for Koistinen is, but there is room on the roster for him right now even if he isn't playing so no harm no foul. Will have to see how things go over the coming days.

I actually thought Ville's play the past couple of games was pretty solid. The guy obviously hasn't gotten many minutes and hasn't been able to fit in -- on the ice. He seems to be a pretty popular guy with his teammates, though, a guy who is very friendly and is usually smiling. Unless we come up to him to talk about his lack of playing time. Then he doesn't smile that much.

-- Today was an optional skate and about half of the team participated.

-- Pete DeBoer wouldn't confirm who is in net but Scott Clemmensen is going to get a start in one of the next two games. Pete says guys going to play in their old buildings (re: Vokoun in Nashville) does play a part in these decisions, but since Vokoun left there a few years ago, it's not going to factor in that much.

Remember, Pete went with Clemmensen against the Western Conference team last week in Detroit and saved Vokoun for the Eastern Conference team (NY). So don't be surprised to see Vokoun -- and really, it's hard to sit him right now -- tomorrow.

-- Saturday marks Florida's third trip to Nashville since the Preds traded Vokoun to the Panthers. He has only played in that building as a Panther once. Craig Anderson started in Nash last year.

-- The Preds are red hot. Pekka Rinne just tied Vokoun's franchise record with his seventh straight win in net last night. Vokoun did that twice with the Preds.

-- Gregory Campbell questionable for tomorrow.

-- Myself as well.

-- If you are planning on going to the Leafs game tomorrow, you might want to get there a little early. The parking lots at the arena are going to be used as overflow parking for Sawgrass Mills with shuttles running to the mall. So, if you need to do some Black Friday shopping, park at the arena and walk or shuttle over to the mall then come back for the game.

See, this blog can be a public service!

Carlson -- As thanks to all of you who check in here from time to time and have made this little piece of the web a place you stop by daily, I offer you this episode of WKRP in Cincinnati.

It's the famous Thanksgiving episode where to drum up interest in the station, they drop live turkeys from a helicopter into a mall parking lot. What a great show. Great characters, terrific writing. Hope you enjoy.

And thanks again.

Happy Thanksgiving y'all.

''As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.''

November 25, 2009

Turkey Day with the Cats

Skip the parade (unless you're going to ride your bike in the North Miami Winterfest one) and come out for a little hockey action in Coral Springs.

You can get sick watching the Lions later.

Panthers practice Thursday morning 10:30 at Incredible Ice.

All the cool kids will be there.

Steve X too.

Turkey Day with the Cats

Meet Steve MacIntyre

Macintyre The Panthers recalled Steve MacIntyre from Rochester on Wednesday, his NHL dream continuing.

Not bad for a guy whose career has taken him to some pretty obscure outposts.

You name the league, he's probably played in it over the past decade.

Sometimes persistence pays off. It has for MacIntyre.

''Last night, after our game in Hamilton, my coach told me I was going to Florida,'' the hulking, 6-foot-5 forward said before Wednesday's game against the Rangers.

''I said 'sweet.' I haven't made this team yet, so I have to go in there and do what I can. Hopefully I can stick around and be part of the club. But I can't say whether I'm coming or going or what I'm doing.''

MacIntyre played for the Panthers in the 2008 preseason, but was waived so he could go Rochester; instead, Edmonton, the team he grew up rooting for, claimed him. For a guy from a tiny town in Saskatchewan, the experience was huge.

Especially considering his NHL dream almost ended early as walked away from the game years earlier. While playing in the Double-A ECHL, MacIntyre was sent down to the Single-A United Hockey League. He started with the Quad City Mallards, then left for three months.

After doing some soul searching, he decided playing hockey wasn't too bad a profession, so he returned and finished the season with Quad City. He played the next season in the AHL, then after one year, made it to the bigs with the Oilers.

''I never really thought I would someday play for an NHL team,'' he said. ''I just figured I'd have fun with it and whatever happens happens. At the same time, I wanted to work hard and put myself in position to be in the best shape I could and do what's asked of me. I never thought I'd be playing in Florida, that's for sure.''

Because of space concerns -- and I don't feel like typing them all out -- all of MacIntyre's teams can't be listed here.

For instance, MacIntyre played for three teams in Canadian junior league. He also played in the Quebec Semi-Pro Hockey League, the Continental Elite Hockey League and the defunct WHL2 in Jacksonville.

The only league he didn't play for, it seems, is that roller hockey league from a few years back.

Hockeydb.com has all of MacIntyre's travels here.

During his career in the bus leagues, MacIntyre became a feared fighter. It's what teams picked up on, and is why he's with the Panthers. Florida seems tired of being pushed around, and a bruiser nicknamed 'SmackIntyre' can bring some of that to a halt.

''I didn't really like it at the start of my career because I thought I was just a big goon,'' he said. ''Now, I get paid to protect my teammates.-.-. they're part of your family. You kind of take it personal when someone screws around with your family.''

With MacIntyre recalled, the Panthers put defenseman/right winger Ville Koistinen on waivers. According to general manager Randy Sexton, Koistinen – signed to a two-year deal worth $2.4 million on July 1 – could be sent to Rochester if he clears waivers Thursday at noon as expected.

If Koistinen is sent to Rochester, the Panthers still have to pay him his NHL salary. Sexton wouldn't say what Florida's plans are for the under-utilized Koistinen.

''We have a plan of action, we'll just have to see,'' said Sexton. ''You want players contributing and he's had trouble getting into the lineup.''

-- Winger Gregory Campbell missed his third straight game after injuring a shoulder last Friday in Detroit. He could play Friday against Toronto.

-- Graham Fandrei has sung the past two national anthems in 1:40. Way to go Graham!

Randy Sexton on the Waived Ville Koistinen

Koistinen Seems like a long time since Ville Koistinen was the toast of the Panthers in Helsinki, no?

In less than two months, he goes from Opening Night Hero to the waiver wire.

Today at noon, Koistinen was put on waivers. He can clear at noon tomorrow. General manager Randy Sexton wouldn't say what the Panthers plan is if Koistinen clears. It's expected he will, though; Koistinen is signed through the 2010-11 season at $1.2 mil a year.

''We'll see what transpires tomorrow at noon,'' Sexton said. ''We have a plan of action, we'll just have to see. You want players contributing and he's had trouble getting into the lineup. .-.-. Our development system is working. Kenndal has come up and played terrific. Vic has been terrific. Rather than have him be a healthy scratch, we want him to get an opportunity to play.''

As far as Rochester goes, Sexton was non-commital. Florida has to pay Koistinen his entire NHL salary if he's in the AHL because he's on a one-way contract.

''I'll talk about that tomorrow,'' he said. ''Every player needs to play, no matter how young or old you are. Every player needs to play. We need to have him playing. If he's going to be with us, or if he goes somewhere else, it's to play.''

Happy Thanksgiving from the Panthers -- Who are on a Boat

A classic. Still makes me laugh. And here's a new one for ya...

Here Comes Trouble

Steve MacIntyre has been recalled, will join team this afternoon...

EDIT: This was an early morning post from the cellphone; the real post on MacIntyre -- who has one hell of a story -- is below.

Here's the Beef: Steve MacIntyre IN; Ville Koistinen OUT

Wendys The Panthers recalled Steve MacIntyre from Rochester this morning, and he is likely in South Florida by now. He wasn't at the skate this morning, but will be in the lineup against the Rangers.

MacIntyre will replace Ville Koistinen in the lineup and perhaps keep his roster spot. Koistinen was waived at noon today. Will be talking to Randy Sexton later in the night on what this means for Koistinen -- who practiced this morning.

Do the Panthers want to send him down to Rochester to get a little playing time, or was this just to see if someone would claim him?

If he does clear and Florida sends him down, they are still on the hook for his NHL salary. Koistinen signed a two-year deal worth $2.4 million during the offseason.

As far as MacIntyre goes, he's been fighting and playing well in Rochester. We figured he wouldn't spend too much time down in the AHL before coming up, and here he is. The Rangers were pretty active on Saturday night, with Brian Boyle getting into it with Rostislav Olesz. Olesz hit the ice and Boyle stood over him for a few moments, glaring at him.

''That's not going to happen tonight,'' Keith Ballard predicted.

The Rangers didn't skate today, but Donald Brashear is expected to be in the lineup as well. Could be Donking5 some fisticuffs at The Billboard tonight.

Maybe Don King will show up.

-- Also, the Panthers are expected to practice Thanksgiving morning at Incredible Ice in Coral Springs. Think it's going to be around 10:30. So, if you are tired of the parade, you might want to come by.

Will update this tonight after the game with confirmation so check back.

November 24, 2009

The Train Keeps on Chugging: Gregory Campbell Practices; Cory Stillman OUT

Monorail The Panthers were upbeat at practice today and why not? Sure, they lost last night to the Penguins, but they have still won eight of 12 and have points in two of those losses.

And the loss last night came in overtime. To the best team in the east. A team that is defending the crown.

So, it was a lost opportunity. But there's another tomorrow. And the day after Thanksgiving. And Saturday.

The Panthers don't have time to mope about spilled Crosby, nor bask in the glow of the that eight outta 12. Gots to move on. The Rangers are in town.

-- Gregory Campbell practiced today but was out on the ice real late. That means he's probably not going to play tomorrow. Pete DeBoer said he's doubtful but could return Friday against the Leafs. So that's good news.

-- More good news: Cory Stillman has what DeBoer says is a strained knee ligament. No surgery is needed. But he's still going to be out a month or so. And that's a lot of games for him to miss.

-- DeBoer joked that it's getting real crowded in the trainer's room and around the hot/cold tubs. All these games means no time to rest. So they have to keep up on the little injuries.

-- Big crowd expected at The Billboard on Wednesday and Friday. Should be a fun atmosphere.

-- Are these my readers? A Miami Herald poll yesterday asked which team y'all thought was the worst in the NHL.

The overwhelming winner with 55 percent of the vote?

The Florida Panthers.

I would think other people around the league don't buy that one bit. I wouldn't have said that last month when they won two of 10.

-- Don't forget, I'm joining Andy and the Amigo on AM-640 in Laudy each Tuesday around 6:05. You have been warned.

Could Reebok, Panthers Have Done More?

Thirds2 I know this is getting old, but people are still talking about these new jerseys (for instance, check out Puck Daddy's take here):

The Panthers and Reebok say these new third jerseys went through relentless research and tweaking, trying to find just the right look.


Look at the picture above (and the 09 jersey below).

That is the jersey we saw last year, the photo taken by David J. Neal at a Panthers practice in March.

It's exactly the same jersey they unveiled on Monday.

Exactly the same.

When I saw that jersey for the first time, I just assumed it was some kind of prototype.

First off, the color scheme threw me. Plus the logo looked a little fakeish (is that a word?). The FLORIDA PANTHERS in the circle looked very pedestrian. Is that Times Roman? Did they come up with this on Microsoft Word?

Then there was the goofy FLA. There had to be more, right?

Thirds3 Nope. That is the identical jersey they rolled out on Monday. No changes. No tweaking. No changing of the fonts to make it look, you know, a little more professional.

Honest, the mockup we saw in March looked like a mockup.

But it was the final deal.

The colors seem to be the most shocking thing to people because it is such a difference from what the Panthers have had since Day 1.


-- The font on the crest looks like it was done by the dry cleaner with a $100 Singer on the corner of 136th Avenue and Flamingo Road.

-- The Sun with the FLA really needs to go.

The jersey rolled out Monday was fine as a prototype, a jersey that needed some tweaks here and there. But there were no tweaks. 

This is like a designer in Detroit coming up with a concept car and after the initial design, instead of working on it in the year before the roll out, the factory does nothing to make it better. Yet they keep it a big secret (telling everyone how much work went into it) then unveiled the same car they showed off at the auto show a year before.

But give the Panthers credit for this: They kept the jersey a true secret until the unveiling. I could have run these pictures a lot sooner, but there was no way I believed the photos I had would represent the final jersey.

So who gets the blame? The Panthers, sure. But a lot of that blame has to go on Reebok. They are the ones, I've been told, who did most of the designing. Of course, these are the same folks who thought it was cool to put 'AFC East' on all of the Dolphins (and Jets and Patriots, etc) sideline apparel.

Some Panthers jackets simply have Eastern (as in Conference, not the defunct airline) on the back. Like that means anything to anyone but them.

The Reebok people aren't real hip to what looks good. So it's not surprising that Reebok (it's not RBK anymore right? So why the FLA?) came up with this plain look. The jersey we saw in March looked fake, unfinished.

Yet that's what they rolled out. No wonder the Panthers kept it a secret and didn't have a big photo shoot beforehand. They wanted to bring it out and move on.

Again, the biggest thing people notice is the color of the jersey. Baby blue? people shouted. I said the same thing. That actually looks OK in my opinion.

The jersey, from far away, looks sharp. It's the little things that bother me. The Panthers had a real chance to do something cool here and didn't.

Islesfisherman But hey, things could be worse.

At least it's not the Long Island Fisherman, a first-ballot inductee into the Bad Jerseys Hall of Fame.

This Panthers jersey isn't that bad. It won't be a classic and it's not horrible. But it could have been pretty cool had all the work we were told went into it actually went into it.

But like one Panther person told me: It looks better on television than it does in person.

At least they got that part right.

And here's a tip to the NHL: Let Nike back into the jersey game. Sure, they sometimes swing and miss (Oregon football, last week's FSU look) but at least they go down swinging.

November 23, 2009

'They Look Awful Familiar' ... Panthers 'Unplugged'

Thirds1 A couple of people (Shae and Wes Goldstein of CBSsports.com) commented that the new Panthers jerseys not only look like the Penguins very popular throwback thirds, but those of the retro Hockey Night In Canada jerseys introduced a few years ago.

Well, no one is original in these kind of things anymore.

They are different from Hnicjersey what the Panthers have ever had and they are OK by me. I do not, DO NOT, like the FLA inside the sun however. Looks amateur hour. Don't like the font, don't like the FLA, don't like the sun. But that's just me.

-- Those of you watching at home may wonder what happened to the FSN feed at the end of the second period.

Johnny I went out and pulled the plug on the production truck.

Just kidding.

But the truck did lose power, and the last three-plus minutes of the second wasn't on.

It's up again.

Blame FP&L. Everyone else does.

New Jerseys invade Florida

Here y'all go...buy one or six of them...

FYI: The Panthers came out for warmups in their usual home jerseys with the new pants and socks (see post below). As you can see, the new FLA logo replaces the sun/palm tree/hockey stick on the sleeves.

You should be able to buy these at Pantherland or online soon. I think they will wear them throughout the week. After tonight, they wear them 11 more times.

And that artist rendition doesn't look so bad now, does it?

The New Jerseys are Finally Here

A New Look

At the morning skate and the Panthers are sporting their new bottoms (insert joke here).

Dark blue pants with the sunshine/FLA logo on the right side and a white stripe down both. The Carolina blue on the socks. Haven't seen the official game jersey yet, but it does have the lighter shade of blue in it you can be sure...

A New Look

November 21, 2009

The Panthers Take Manhattan: Florida 3, Rangers 2 ... Florida One Point out of Eighth


NEW YORK -- Another big win for the Panthers, a team that has climbed out of the abyss of a horrid start in which they won just two of their first 10 games.

But don't think the Panthers are getting too ahead of themselves nor full of themselves.

''We're far from thinking we're out of the woods just yet,'' Radek Dvorak said.

Said Pete DeBoer: ''It's early in the season. I think the key to an NHL season is riding the tide of the highs and lows. In the first 10 games of the season I wasn't ready to jump off a bridge and now I'm not ready to plan any parades.''

The Panthers have now won eight of 11 and swept a three-game road trip through Buffalo, Detroit and New York.

It's been pretty impressive.

On Wednesday and Friday, the Panthers sat back and hung around. Saturday, they seemed to surprise the Rangers by being the aggressor. They didn't get rewarded early, but did late.

Florida dictated play from the start and earned their three-game sweep by beating the Rangers 3-2 at Madison Square Garden.

''We started off well, like we wanted to although we didn't get the goals or the breaks,'' said Nathan Horton. ''I think we surprised them. They weren't ready to play. I thought we played good most of the night, got pucks to the net and got some lucky goals.''

The Panthers, who were at the bottom of the league standings 10 games into the season, have now pulled themselves back into the pack by winning eight of 11. Florida opened with a 6-2 win in Buffalo then followed with the franchise's first win in Detroit since 1996 on Friday night.

A quick look at the standings show Florida's 22 points one back of eighth place in the east and just three back of fifth-place Philadelphia. Yes it's early and this is no time to slow down. The Panthers open up a three-game homestand Monday against the Penguins, with the Rangers and Maple Leafs also coming to Sunrise.

The Panthers are in the midst of a rough stretch in which they play every other day until Christmas -- but if they can keep winning, they could put themselves back in a good position.

With Saturday's win, the Panthers climbed above .500 in the win column at 10-9-2.

-- Horton now has a five-game scoring streak going. Horton, who scored the game-winner against the Rangers on Saturday, has two goals and four assists in that time frame.

-- Linemates Stephen Weiss and Horton were part of both of Florida's goals in Detroit as Weiss scored the first goal off a Horton pass. Both assisted on Bryan McCabe's overtime winner.

Saturday, the two teamed up for the game-winner as Weiss' shot was blocked by Henrik Lundqvist and Horton cleaned up the rebound.

-- Loved Jordan Leopold's goal on Saturday. It looked like a crazy pool shot but reminded me of a wacky golf shot when you are close to the lake and you grab a wedge and are just trying to bang the ball back into the fairway. Only you really get hold of it and it lands near the green. Leopold's backhanded shot ended up skipping past Lundqvist.

''It's up there with one where you bounce it off the glass, the goalie comes out to play it and it goes in,'' Leopold said. ''It went in, it counts and it's on the scoresheet. It got us a big win. It's great. I was just throwing it down to get something going down low.''

Said Lundqvist: ''I just lost it. Guys were waving their sticks and it just bounced in front of me.''

-- How about Bryan Allen on Saturday? Playing in a back-to-back game, he led all players with 21:55 of icetime.

''He was a warrior out there tonight,'' DeBoer said.

-- Vokoun made 32 saves to be the third star on Saturday.

Big City Panthers OR Cats in the City: Panthers @ Rangers ... Cory Stillman, Gregory Campbell OUT; Ville Koistinen, Shawn Matthias IN

Stiller NEW YORK – The Panthers are winning games but losing bodies. On Friday, both Cory Stillman and Gregory Campbell suffered injuries that kept them out of Saturday's game at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.

Stillman injured his left knee during the Panthers victory in Detroit; Campbell also suffered undisclosed injuries coach Pete DeBoer described as ''a bunch of little things going on.''

The severity of Stillman's injury is not yet known as he is icing the knee and awaiting a visit with team doctors Sunday in Weston. The Panthers hope the injury is only minor. Earlier this season, Radek Dvorak returned under three weeks after injuring his left knee in Philadelphia.

Soup2 'I don't think it's minor but I don't think it's surgery major,'' DeBoer said about Stillman before Saturday's game. ''It's somewhere in between. But it's significant enough that he'll be out for a little while.''

In response, the Panthers recalled forwards Shawn Matthias and Michael Repik from their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y. Matthias was in the lineup Saturday, Repik wasn't.

With the Panthers playing every other day until Christmas, nagging injuries could become a problem for the team as there are few days to heal up.

General manager Randy Sexton seems confident in Florida's talent on the farm and Matthias was in his sixth game with the Panthers this season having made the team out of training camp.

''When we call guys up,'' Sexton said, ''we want them to play a meaningful role and not just take up a roster spot.''

The Panthers played seven defensemen on Saturday with Ville Koistinen playing for the first time since Nov. 7. Koistinen didn't see much action in the first period but was on both power play chances. He was charged with a penalty on Florida's second power play late in the first.

''Fresh legs,'' DeBoer said without further comment on Koistinen.


The Panthers had a successful three game road trip and return home to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins at home Monday. The Panthers expect a large crowd Monday – and not only because of the opponent, although Sidney Crosby and Co. sure help.

Florida will unveil its new third jersey on Monday and after beating Detroit on Friday for the first time since 1996, the Panthers hope people are paying attention again. Heading into Saturday's game, Florida had won seven of 10 with victories to start the road trip in Buffalo and Detroit.

''We want people to notice,'' said Nathan Horton. ''We want to put things together and keep winning. We're having a lot of fun and want to keep it going.''

-- Tomas Vokoun was back in net for the Panthers on Saturday. Scott Clemmensen stopped 39 shots in Florida's 2-1 win at Detroit the night before.