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50 posts from November 2009

November 21, 2009

The Not-So-New Guys

CHARLOTTE -- At my home away from home (Charlotte's airport) and just got word that both Michal Repik and Shawn Matthias up for tonight's game at the Gahden.

We know Cory Stillman (left knee) is out, but who else?

Stay tuned. More when we get to Gotham.

November 20, 2009

Turn Back the Clock, OR, It Has Happened Before: Panthers win in Detroit 2-1 in Overtime ... Cory Stillman OUT with Left Knee

Dvorak DETROIT -- The last time the Panthers beat the Red Wings in Detroit, Radek Dvorak was a still just a fresh-faced kid from the Czech Republic who helped the Panthers make it to the Stanley Cup Finals the season before as a rookie.

Dvorak potted the game-winner on Dec. 1, 1996 as Florida topped the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

He was there Friday night when the Panthers did it again.

This time, Bryan McCabe did the honors as Florida beat Detroit 2-1 in overtime.

The Panthers, who sandbagged it much of the night to secure the one point, have now won seven of 10 after starting the season with just two wins in a 10 game span.

Friday, as the clock ran down to end regulation, a few smiles and congratulatory slaps on the back were seen on the Panthers bench.

Florida hadn't won anything. The game against the Red Wings was tied and going to overtime.

Just like the Panthers wanted.

The real celebration came 40 seconds into overtime as McCabe fired a shot off Stanley Cup champion goalie Chris Osgood to lift the Panthers to 2-1 victory at Joe Louis Arena. The win was rare indeed; Florida had only won here once before – on Dec. 1, 1996.

Mccabe4 ''Luckily we pulled it out in overtime,'' said McCabe, whose team has won seven of its past 10 to climb back to respectability after winning just two of its first 10.

''We were down 1-0 going into the third in Detroit, one of the best teams in the league. We thought we were in a great spot. We stuck with the program and grinded it out. That's Cats hockey. We're starting to create an identity here.''

The Panthers didn't do much throughout Friday's game, leaving the heavy lifting to backup goalie Scott Clemmensen. The last time Clemmensen was in net, he gave up seven goals – including five in the third period – in a lopsided loss at Washington.

Friday, Clemmensen looked like the guy Florida wanted during free agency and signed to a three-year deal. Clemmensen was tough and was poised, swatting away 22 shots before Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk broke the ice nearly 38 minutes into the game.

Before then, the fans at the Joe might have wanted a little caffeine to stay awake as the Panthers looked to just keep things close. The strategy worked.

Clemm ''Great win, we really battled hard tonight,'' said Clemmensen, who stopped 39 shots – including all 14 in the pivotal third. Florida took both shots in overtime as they picked up the play substantially. ''I give my teammates credit. They battled in the third and got the equalizer. Then McCabe gets the overtime goal. I wasn't off to the start here I wanted to be. I take full responsibility for that. I want to be part of the solution here.''

The Panthers tied the score 8:13 into the third when Stephen Weiss took a beautiful feed from Nathan Horton along the goal cage. Horton saw Weiss standing all alone and the crisp pass seemed to surprise Weiss as he almost whiffed. Weiss buried the second try as Osgood was slow getting back in position.

Florida didn't do much of anything after that but try and keep the Red Wings away from Clemmensen. After the light celebration at the end of regulation, the Panthers came strong in overtime with Weiss getting off a good shot that bounded back. Six seconds later, McCabe sent a screamer from the top of the right circle on Florida's 20th shot of the night.

''They are a great hockey team; their record and Stanley Cups speak for themselves,'' said coach Pete DeBoer. ''Anytime you can come in here and get one or two points, it's an accomplishment. We needed our goaltender to be our best player tonight and he was.''

And now, the Panthers are off to New York. With wins in Buffalo and Detroit, the Cats are trying to pull all six points out of this crucial roadtrip.

Anyone else see that one coming?

-- It took forwards Cory Stillman and Steven Reinprecht a little while to get going. Kind of like the Panthers themselves.

Stiller Only the Panthers are still going strong, but the Stillman-Reinprecht combo could be on the shelf for some time.

The one negative out of Florida's 2-1 overtime victory over the Red Wings Friday was that Stillman – who had goals in six of eight games coming in – was lost with a left knee injury. Stillman was driven into the boards midway through the second period and coach Pete DeBoer says he's out for some time.

The Panthers will call up a forward from their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., before Saturday's game in New York against the Rangers.

In Florida's run of seven wins in 10 games, Reinprecht and Stillman accounted for 20 points (none Friday) as the Panthers have gotten back into contention after a rough start. Florida started with two wins in its first 10 with DeBoer calling out both players at times for their play.

''It's a lot of fun playing with Stiller,'' said Reinprecht. ''He's been around a while and is a good offensive player. It took us a little while to get started.''

Stillman started off very slowly and didn't get his first goal until Oct. 31 in St. Louis – Florida's 12th game of the season. His goal against Buffalo on Wednesday was a beauty, as he and Stillman raced up the ice with only a Buffalo defender and goalie Ryan Miller in the way.

Reinprecht carried the puck up the ice, Stillman on his right. When Stillman slowed a bit to create a passing lane, Reinprecht easily picked up on it and slid it across the ice. Stillman teed off on the pass and buried what looked like an easy goal.

The two looked like they had been playing together for years and not weeks. The Panthers just hope its not months before they are back together.

Welcome to Hockeytown: Florida Panthers @ Detroit Red Wings

Joelouis DETROIT -- Greetings and salutations from Joe Louis Arena, the longtime home of the Detroit Red Wings.

Was just informed that this building was built in 1979. Really? I would have said 1969. Maybe 1959. This place is great, but it has not aged well.

But there are fewer places in the league better to watch a game.

Bill Lindsay says the Islanders arena may have better viewing. But they sure don't make them like this anymore.

The Miami Arena was nicer than this and it has been torn down already.

But I love historic places so I love this place. Welcome to Hockeytown, eh.

-- Just ran into a bunch of folks from Kitchener, Ont., here to root on Pete and the Panthers. One parent (about 20 Jr. Kitchener Rangers made the three-hour trek) said they hoped to meet with Pete after the game but it looks like that may not happen. The Panthers are flying straight to New York after this.

But I'm thinking Pete can talk to them another time.

One rumor floating around is that Florida will hold the start of training camp in Kitchener next year at the Auditorium. Which would be OK with me.

Don't forget, Panthers play Boston on Sept. 23, 2010, at Rochester. Gets your Amerks, err, Panthers tickets soon!

-- Ville Koistinen your healthy scratch tonight.

-- Scott Clemmensen in net for the Cats, Chris Osgood going for the Wings. Osgood has been out with the flu. The Wings are also flying out of here tonight as they have a date on Hockey Night tomorrow with the Montreal Martins.

Gmandetroit -- From my Facebook page: 

here's why I love Detroit: I always root for the underdog, they have Tim Hortons and there are streets named Clark and Griswold. And it's Hockeytown

New Jerseys in Florida? One Artist* Gives 'er a Shot

Thirdjersey DETROIT -- So many of you have been asking to see what these new third jerseys look like, well, this is pretty close.

I think.

The team has done a good job of being secretive about these jerseys and this is what I would call an ''artists'' rendition*.

(*) My pal Alan did these up on his computer based on my description and he admits he's not an artist. I also had to change the main color and I'm definitely not an artist. But thanks Alan.

Anyway, as you can see, there's a lot of light blue in this jersey but also dark blue. Now the jersey I saw a photo of last week could be just a fake.

Others told me there is a light blue jersey (with dark blue shoulders) floating around.

But I like this dark blue and I like the striping of it. Kind of a traditional look. I'm not a fan of the piping on the new Reebok jerseys Florida wears and I'm glad that's not incorporated here.

The face on the jersey isn't the usual Panther head Panther (no whiskers, no triangles) but is a face they have used on the ice before. Someone told me this logo dates back to the Miami Arena days and it does look familiar.

Apparently it was one of the logo submissions back in 1992-93 that didn't make the cut but H. Wayne still liked. For good reason. It's cool.

Panthers3rd Also, this version has the sun/palm tree/hockey stick on the sleeve. That is apparently gone and replaced with this. I'm sure the team is going to be trying to sell fans on this alternate logo by putting it on T-shirts and what not. It's OK. I would have liked to see a modernized sun/palm tree logo instead.

As you can perhaps see, there is some light and dark gray in there as well. Word on the street is this looks pretty good out on the ice and is expected to show up very well on television.

And I know many of you wanted red. But if this is indeed the jersey, do you like it? Would you buy it?

They will be on sale Monday at Pantherland apparently AFTER the game starts. I'm sure there will be a bunch of folks lined up there Monday night just to see these things after warmups.

Vote now with On Frozen Poll, will ya?

November 19, 2009

Detroit Rock City: Clemmensen IN, Frolik Goal OUT

DETROIT -- Just left the awesomely cool Joe Louis Arena. Quick hits: Scott Clemmensen will start tomorrow against the Wings. Also, Bryan McCabe gets the credit for Michael Frolik's second goal last night. More later. Grabbing a sammich...

Something Borrowed (as in Baby Blue), Something New

3rd_Jersey_Letter DETROIT -- The Panthers have been very good about hiding their new third jerseys.

The team is going to unveil them during Monday's game against the Penguins.

Hope Pittsburgh doesn't wear its throwback jerseys. Could be confusing.

As we saw last March, the team is going with a dark-blue and light-blue motif with a Panthers head in a crest on the front.

Panthers3rd The team is apparently doing away with the sun/palm tree/hockey stick for a new branding.

They are keeping the sun and bringing in a FLA (think the Coyotes/Suns PHX) for the shoulders. I would have gone with a 305/954/561 logo myself.

I have seen pics of the new jerseys and I think they look OK. And the Panther head is different than the leaping Panther head but it is a logo the team has used in the past.

They are different and sometimes different is good.

I still think a red jersey would be more fitting. Maybe in the future.

More on this, with a mockup of the jersey, to come. Heading to practice in dowtown Motown now.

November 18, 2009

David Booth Has Setback

Booth1 BUFFALO --

Pete DeBoer said Detroit native David Booth didn't come on his team's recent trip because he had a recent setback in his return to the ice.

Booth, who was concussed on Oct. 24 in Philadelphia, was cleared to start light workouts but was then stopped.

Booth will need to show that he can do normal workouts with no affects before he is cleared to skate at full strength. Booth missed Florida's game at Detroit in 2007 with a knee injury, Boothmsu but at least got to watch the game with family from a luxury box.

''It was a mutual decision,'' said DeBoer. ''We started to ramp up his workouts last week and had a little setback. We're kind of taking our foot off the gas and giving him some time off before we get back at it. We knew this would happen, would be part of the process.''

-- Tomas Vokoun back in net tonight against the Sabres.

November 16, 2009

A Big Change In Sunrise: Cliff Viner, Stuart Siegel Take Control

Owners The Panthers have a new management team in place as Cliff Viner (far left) and Stuart Siegel were named the new co-chairmen of the Panthers.

I wasn't at today's ownership announcement nor will I cover tonight's game because of a family matter I needed to commit to weeks ago.

But congratulations are in order to both Cliff and Stu, guys I got to know a lot better in our trip to Finland.

These guys are hockey nuts and will do their best to improve things with the Panthers.

That said, I wish Alan Cohen nothing but the best. I am sure he debated this move for a long time.

Few people love the Panthers as much as Cohen does and no one wanted them to succeed more than him. There wasn't much success during his tenure in owning the team, but sometimes things just don't work out. When he made the moves he made, he did it with the thought that the organization was moving forward.

“I want to thank Stu and Cliff for taking up this challenge,” Cohen said in a statement released by the Panthers. “This is a great market and they deserve a winner. The team will be very successful when that happens. I had a lot of fun and I know I leave the organization in much better shape than it was when I took it over. Hockey is loaded with good people, I was happy to be a part of it.”

And Alan will still continue to be part of the team as he retains a rather large stake in the team. I am told the league is very happy with that and because of that, this new management structure should be approved fairly easily.

In case you missed it, this is the story I wrote on the changes in today's Herald.

On the Panthers website, Siegel and Viner wrote an open letter to the fans. It can be found here.

It reads:

We want to take this opportunity to welcome you to a new day for the Florida Panthers hockey club. As of this morning, we have assumed the roles of Co-General Partners of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, and will be responsible for all the decision-making as it relates to this franchise, the BankAtlantic Center, and the organization as a whole.

That said, we thought now would be a good opportunity to share some of our philosophies with you, while also encouraging your feedback. You should know that we feel both a personal and professional responsibility to you, the fans, as well as all of our supporters, to run a first class organization and to achieve success both on and off the ice.

As local owners who live and work in the South Florida area, we are committed to developing a winning culture within this organization, something we haven’t had over the past few years. In addition, we will bring a stronger measure of accountability and accessibility to this franchise immediately.

Our goal is to build a hockey team that can sustain its success year in and year out, by building through the draft and minor leagues, and by making the right decisions in trades and free agency.

We believe in letting people do their jobs – from the general manager and the head coach down to the players themselves. By the same token, if the right decisions are not being made and we are not achieving our goals as a franchise, then it will be our job to hold people accountable for their actions.

As fans, you will always know where we stand as an organization. We will be accessible to you, and will give you as much information as possible about our hockey club. We will communicate with you, through the media, through letters like this one, through blogs and face-to-face at games and town hall meetings.

Our goals are simple: Make the playoffs, sustain success and build a franchise that we can all be proud of. And we want you, the fans, to feel like you are part of the team. We will accomplish this through our accountability and accessibility, but also through our community outreach, by giving back to South Florida, and making our presence felt throughout the region.

It is indeed a new day for the Florida Panthers, so let’s make the expectations clear from the start. We want to win – for our fans, our supporters, our partners, our employees and most of all, for you.

Thank you for your time and support and go Panthers.

-- Barry Jackson covered the press conference today from Sunrise and I will have more here later.

November 14, 2009

No Tony Tavares, so how 'bout John Tavares? ... David Booth Still Out for a While

Tavares With the Panthers ownership situation finally settled in we can go back to the business of hockey.

Good matchup in Sunrise tonight as the Islanders come to town fresh off last night's overtime win in Raleigh.

Side note: How bad are things in Carolina right now? These guys were in the east finals last year and have now tied the franchise record for consecutive losses, a record set by those lovable Hartford Whalers.

Fourteen straight losses? How does that happen?

Anyway, John Tavares -- the top pick in what is known in these parts as the Dmitry Kulikov Draft -- and the Isles are in town. They didn't skate but did some off-ice stuff at The Billboard this morning.

-- Pete DeBoer says he has talked to David Booth about his joining the team for the upcoming Buffalo-Detroit-New York trip although Booth hasn't even started skating yet. I think Booth makes the trip and it's cool DeBoer made the offer. This will be the second time the Panthers have visited Booth's hometown with him on the roster and the second time Booth will miss the game against his hometown Wings because of injury.

At least he can have one of those world famous Buffalo Tofu Salads.

-- Not much else going on. Tomas Vokoun in net. Duh.

November 13, 2009

Ownership Situation Done on Monday: Alan Cohen Hands off to Stu Siegel, Cliff Viner

Pantherowners CHARLOTTE -- Alan Cohen's decision to step down as general partner of the Panthers will officially be announced at a Monday news conference in Sunrise.

The Miami Herald has previously reported that Panthers minority owners Cliff Viner and Stuart Siegel will run the team after Cohen steps aside.

The Panthers have said there will be a 1:30 news conference on the club level of the team's arena.

You might be able to read Cliff, Stu and Alan's reaction to this on another web/news site.

Brettyormark I was shocked to see this there.


(*) Yes, that is a photo of Brett Yormark, president of the New Jersey Nets.

November 12, 2009

MacIntyre Clears Waivers

BOSTON -- Winger Steve MacIntyre cleared waivers and can now be assigned to Rochester...

November 11, 2009

MacIntyre on Waivers

As of noon today, Steve McIntyre was placed on entry waivers. If he clears by noon tomorrow, he'll be assigned to Rochester.

MacIntyre on Waivers

As of noon today, Steve McIntyre was placed on waivers. If he clears by noon tomorrow, he'll be assigned to Rochester.

November 10, 2009

Steve MacIntyre Back With Cats; To Rochester If Clears ... Ville Koistinen Back on D

Mcintyre2 The Panthers picked up a little grit off the waiver wire today, bringing winger Steve MacIntyre back into the organization.

McIntyre was waived by the Panthers during the 2008-09 training camp so he could clear and go to Rochester. Well, the Oilers picked him up. He was waived by Edmonton and the Panthers got him back.

And now they are waiving him again. So he can go to Rochester. Get it?

So, McIntyre could be with the Panthers organization later this week or someone else could pick him up. We'll see. Regardless, GM Randy Sexton said the organization is trying to add ''grit'' and thinks with Victor Oreskovich, that's a move in the right direction. And this one is to.

Sexton says McIntyre hasn't played much and isn't in playing shape. He'll get plenty of opportunity in Rochester. ''We're going to get him some playing time,'' Sexton said.

McIntyre played four games with the Oil this season.

-- Everyone but David Booth was on the ice today in Coral Springs for a Pete DeBoer marathon practice. Team went more than 90 minutes. It wasn't a punishment, although. With the team's schedule about to ramp up, they won't have many real practice days for a while. So he was getting them some work in.

-- Pete says the Ville Koistinen experiment at forward is pretty much done, unless Sexton imposes a 20-man roster and sends back guys like Oreskovich or Kenndal McArdle. Pete again said that Koistinen is a natural defenseman and needs to show the Panthers what he can do there.

Steve MacIntyre Back With Cats

Enforcer Steve MacIntyre, lost through the waiver process last training camp, is back with the Panthers after being claimed off waivers Tuesday. More from Randy Sexton later on...

November 08, 2009

Washington Fallout: Koistinen on Bench ... Gregory Campbell Bruised ... Scott Clemmensen's D-Fence

Koistinen Happy Sunday to everyone. Just wanted to throw out some odds and ends from last night's Debacle in the Capital:

-- See that picture to the left? That's Ville Koistinen in happier times. You know, playing, scoring, winning?

Seems like last season.

Signed as a free agent defenseman on July 1, Koistinen spent the preseason playing defense.

But for Florida's opener against Chicago in Helsinki, Koistinen was put with the forwards, a move that was thought to be a short-term answer. He's been there ever since.

And he isn't playing much. In five recent games, Koistinen has played fewer than 10 shifts with less than nine minutes of ice time. Saturday, Koistinen got two shifts even though the Panthers were shorthanded with the loss of Gregory Campbell.

Pete DeBoer today: ''He's a defenseman. We had six healthy defensemen,'' DeBoer said. ''I've been playing him as a forward because I've had to piece together a lineup. But he's not a forward, it's not his natural position.

DeBoer said Koistinen was benched during Saturday's game because ''I made the decision he couldn't help us. It was that simple.''

-- DeBoer said he is hopeful Campbell will return to the lineup on Thursday after the center took a hard slap shot to the face. Campbell spent most of the second half of the game being examined and stitched up – all in full uniform so he could return to the game if given clearance by the medical staff. He was not granted permission to return. Campbell was being examined by Florida medical staff on Sunday.

''We want to make sure there are no fractures,'' DeBoer said. ''It was a significant cut. He had damage to his teeth. If he can eat, hold down food, he's going to try and play. We know he wants to play, but we have to make the decision whether he will or not. He'll go out there hurt.''

-- Scott Clemmensen had a rough day yesterday, you know, giving up five goals in the third and all.

He was very critical of the Florida defense after the game and DeBoer basically said today that Clemmensen can voice his own opinions.

Does DeBoer buy it?

More later.

-- Panthers back on the Incredible Ice tomorrow at 10:30. Should be interesting.

November 07, 2009

Fun Run in The District: Scott Clemmensen IN; Otherwise, Lineup the Same

Presidents WASHINGTON -- Pete DeBoer is giving Tomas Vokoun the night off and giving Scott Clemmensen his fourth start of the season. Clemmensen is 2-0 in his three starts (Vokoun took the loss in one of Clem's starts).

Jose Theodore pitching for the Nationals.

Kamil Kreps is not with the team on this trip because of his foot injury, but DeBo says the team doesn't think it's all that serious and he could be back Thursday in Boston.

Got a number of things for tonight's notebook, mostly power play related. Was that the worst five minute power play you have ever seen? It's still ugly a day later. Also have stuff from Pete on why he didn't pull Vokoun during the power play with the team down two. He did say it was discussed, but with the puck in the Florida zone most of the time thanks to Washington's penalty killers.

More later. Watching Notre Dame-Navy right now.

November 06, 2009

Home and Home: Panthers vs. Caps ... Ovechkin OUT

Alex Ovechkin seems to be enjoying South Florida without having to work. The Caps star is out here at practice just watching. He's in shorts and a dry fit shirt.

Kamil Kreps (foot) is also out; Michal Repik is on his way up Rochester.

November 05, 2009

Casual Thursday: Bryan McCabe to hit 1,000 ... David Booth Speaks ... Kamil Kreps Hurt ... Alex Ovechkin In or Out? ... Friday Concert All About Blue

Mccabe4 Lots of news and notes to get into the paper tomorrow and not much space.

Good thing this newfangled Internet offers limitless space.

First off, Bryan McCabe hits a milestone tomorrow and becomes the seventh player to reach 1,000 games while wearing the Florida sweater. The Panthers captain says he's pretty taken aback by the milestone and that it's going to be pretty special for him.

The other Panthers to hit 1,000: Lyle Odelein, Greg Adams, Kirk Muller, Mike Foligno, Scott Mellanby and Chris Gratton.

-- David Booth met with us in the locker room at Incredible Ice today and he looks much, much better than when we saw him last. His right eye is still bloodied but he says he doesn't get headaches anymore and he's ready to resume exercising. He says the only exercise he's done since the concussion is a little walking and some swimming.

He's at least a week away from returning.

-- Kamil Kreps didn't skate today because he took a skate off his boot last night. He'll probably play tomorrow.

-- Dominic Moore told me last night that he's probably a few days away from skating after having nasal surgery. He'll likely miss the home-and-home with the Capitals.

-- Radek Dvorak skated before Thursday's practice and could return next week.

Ovechkin -- Spoke with Alex Ovechkin after Washington's short but intense practice at The Billboard. Ovechkin, out with a left shoulder injury, did some puck work in the early stages of practice but then put the stick down and just skated.

He says he'll probably miss the next two games against the Panthers but Bruce Boudreau says Ovechkin will practice tomorrow and they will go from there. ''He put the maybe out there,'' Boudreau said.

-- Boudreau wasn't happy with Washington's loss to New Jersey last night and skated them real hard. It was a short practice, but they did a lot of skating. ''If we weren't playing back-to-back,'' Boudreau said, ''it would have been longer.''

The Caps have lost three straight.

More quotes later in the day.

Jetblue -- The big announcement at the arena tomorrow (you know, the one with the free concert) has nothing to do with the team's ownership situation as some have speculated. They are simply announcing another sponsorship deal.

The JetBlue banners are going up outside the main concourse as we speak.

It looks like the discount airline (which I'm a big fan of) is going to sponsor that outside area facing 136th Ave. Lots of banners on the poles, signs above the doors, sign on the giant ad TV, etc.

Word on the street is the ownership thing could be wrapped up next week, but that has been said before.

November 04, 2009

UPDATE: Brought to You By RRA No More: Scandal Hits Panthers, The Billboard ... The Free Tickets Keep Coming

Rrasignage In case you haven't heard, the Fort Lauderdale law firm RRA isn't having a very good week.

One of its founders is accused of bilking hundreds of millions of dollars from the firm and from clients. He flew to Morocco (apparently to avoid extradition) but returned to Lauderdale yesterday.

So what does this have to do with hockey?

Well, RRA is a huge sponsor of South Florida sports teams including the Dolphins, Heat and of course, the Panthers.

Word is the team is trying to separate itself from the scandal. I'm also hearing the law firm hasn't paid off the team for its signage and sponsorships since it's so early in the season. And now, with the firm's funds down to about $500,000, that's a check that isn't coming.

Don't expect to hear RRA presenting upcoming concerts at The Billboard or anything else tonight.

Tonight's game is the first home game in November, and usually the team honors a top player of the previous month. RRA is supposedly a sponsor of this too.

We'll see if the team does anything with that pregame. Of course, the Panthers only won four of 12 games in October, so is there really anyone to honor? Steven Reinprecht I guess for October MVP. Defenseman of the Month? Dmitry Kulikov?


RracarolinaAs of this morning, RRA's signage is still up at the arena (see above; to the right at Carolina's morning skate).

Have an email in to Michael Yormark asking him to comment not on the scandal but on what the team plans to do regarding the firm's sponsorship of the team.

So far I have not heard back from him.

I would be surprised to see those signs in the arena come game time. As spokesman Justin Copertino told me over the phone, it takes time to do these kind of things.

Of course, in walking around the arena this morning, there were workers replacing a Dillard's billboard by one of the restrooms on the concourse. So there are people working on signage at the arena.

UPDATE: Just got an email from Copertino telling me that Yormark has been in meetings all day and that I will notice a difference in signage and game presentation tonight.

UPDATE2: Inside the rink right now. The RRA sign on the boards is gone as is their sign fronting the 400 level. Still no word from Michael Yormark.

So, I would have to assume that RRA is no longer sponsoring the Panthers. Or, the Panthers are refunding their money (ha!) and pulling the signage to distance themselves. Or, as I speculated before, RRA never fully paid and since the Panthers don't expect them to, they are cutting their losses.

-- Aside from RRA, Scott Rothstein has other business interests that sponsor something inside the arena. The biggest is probably the Ice Dancers.

Rothstein is a partner in the Bova steakhouse that sponsors the dancers. In a press release sent out by the team yesterday, the Ice Dancers were referred to without their corporate name. The team's website still has Bova as the sponsor of the dancers.

We'll see what changes there are tonight.

And if Yormark gets back to me, I'll update this post.

-- Just went on ticketmaster.com to check and see if the free ticket offer for tonight's game against Carolina is still going.

They are. Just found four together.

That's right: Free tickets to an NHL game (Ticketmaster charges a .75 service charge).

I won't give you the password, but I'm sure you can find it online. Somewhere. All you have to do is look.

And the Panthers will complain that I'm broadcasting this, but if they're going to offer, people might as well take advantage. And they've been giving away tickets for every game this year save for the home opener and the Philadelphia game.

UPDATE: Tickets are no longer being offered online, free or otherwise. But if you still want freebies (kinda), head over to the Sawgrass Quarterdeck where they have ticket vouchers. You can get up to four free* tickets to tonights game. You just have to pay the $7 arena/parking fee per ticket.

Sure there will be people in the parking lot who bought extra 75 cent tickets and might be willing to toss them your way for a small profit. I wouldn't offer 85 cents, but a couple bucks might do the trick.

-- Will be asking the Panthers how they account for these tickets. Do they count as sold tickets because of Ticketmaster's surcharge or do they go to the league as giveaways?