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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.

THRASHERS 4, PANTHERS 3

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.

Comments

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What a weird night...I much rather see reels of Ballard flipping Malkin over than whacking T-Vo! Thank God he's alright--and I'm glad Smack-Intyre didn't go in to deck Keith!

Scary Olesz moment there too--surprised to see him back on ice with such a shot to the knee.

PLEASE address this PP though!

I know from first hand what it's like to have anger issues and have it accidently hurt other people. Ballard is feeling awful tonight; as he should. Yet, I still think he's a good man.

Maybe Ballard and Tiger Woods can go to anger management classes together. Then again. anger management classes killed the career of Rob Dibble as a relief pitcher.

Glad TVo will be back soon...and I feel for Ballard also.

I should take anger management classes too because this franchise p***es me off because they keep losing!

this team continues to show its lack of character. Whenever it looks like they are going to make a move in the standings they go on a long losing streak.

Why is it that we have character issues?
First, we don't get to know the people we are scouting, we look at film and that does not show character
Second, we continue to pick up the wrong free agents, we have one pro scout in the organization according to the chart, again you can't be everywhere at once but you can watch all the video you want.
Third, we make bad trades, when was the last time anyone can say we stole someone in a trade? It has been a real long time.
Forth, accountability: there has been none, there is no accountability when the management is more concerned with getting advertisements then in putting a competitive product on the ice. (logo in the urninals is as low as it gets).
Lastly, no commitment to the alums. Other than Mueller and Lindsey where has this organization been loyal to anyone? They get rid of Potvin for financial reasons, they trade their best players for peanuts from Stu Barnes on they have only made one trade where you can say the panthers got the best end of the stick (Luongo and Jokinen for Parrish and Kvasha) of course we counter that by getting rid of Luongo and Jokinen for Allen and Ballard.

In an interesting interview yesterday on the NHL radio channel. They interviewed Ray Shero the GM of the penguins.

Mr. Shero worked under our GM Randy Sexton in Ottawa. They asked Mr. Shero what he learned working under other GMs and he doesn't mention Sexton at all, instead he mentions David Poile of Nashville. He says: "I learned from Mr. Poile that you hire the best people to work under you".

The first person he hired at Pittsburgh was Chuck Fletcher. He stated that Chuck's experience made him the best candidate and he credits Chuck with building the Penguins.

Who was one of the first people that Cohen gets rid of none other than Chuck Fletcher, since Fletcher has left the panthers he helped build the Ducks and the Penguins and is rebuilding the Wild. Meanwhile, our panthers continue to hang around 13th place and they state: "we don't have the depth of other teams to sustain the injuries we are receiving",

why is that? When a team has been out of the playoffs 8 years, they better have some depth in the organization.

We allegedly have new owners but it appears that we are in for more of the same.

The front office needs a complete house cleaning from Yormark on down. (Yormark does a good job on the business end but he does a poor job on the hockey end).

Accountability starts at the top and anyone that would approve that the logo be in a urninal needs to go because that person has no respect for the team!

We need a hockey person to run the hockey side, there are plenty of great candidates out there. This person will bring credibility to an organization that lacks any credibility with its customers.

As we watch another season of no playoffs and no improvement (the only player to improve from last year is Horton) we need to realize that only a clean break from the Cohen years will lead to the start of the road back into respectability.

The Panthers are even taking out their own teammates. Don't tell me how it could possibly get worse; I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.

I'd go to the game tomorrow to cheer for Anderson (he deserves it) but I'm not going to any games until the Panthers have more wins than losses.

Coaching and Management are the main root of the problems for the Panthers. Both fail to keep the Panthers' focus on the ice not elsewhere. If this was Canada, Ballard would have been booed off the ice and the fans would be calling for him off the team.

This team has been mismanaged for years, no doubt, but there's no quick fix. Look at Montreal - they went out & got a new coach, new players & completely made over their team but it hasn't vaulted them to the top either. This franchise needs an infusion of front-end talent. We've unfortunately not been bad enough in the right years. Sure, we could have had Staal over Horton and Lecavalier over Viktor Kozlov, but we've also managed to miss out on the top guys last year even though Kulikov is looking like a great pick.

So what do you do to boost the process of rebuilding this team into a playoff caliber team? Trade the only talent (Horton, Frolik, etc.) on our team for 1st round picks which are no guarantee anyways? Sign FA like Montreal or the NYR did last year?

I really don't think we're that far off. Our 1st line could use a boost of a true #1 centerman. I think that would make a big difference. I don't know if I would shake up the D right now. Kulikov is going to be a top talent and Ellerby is almost ready to make the jump. Seidenberg is a guy I would look to extend while buying out Koistinen. Maybe look to acquire a physical d-man.

So really a true centerman and a shut-down D-man. I think that we've seen Horton, Frolik, Weiss and even Olesz are top 6 talent. You put a true #1 centerman in there and let Weiss handle the #2 center spot and that could be a major boost. Weiss is a very good 2-way center, but he's easily taken off the puck and pushed around. He's just not big enough to go against the Arnotts of the league.

KEITH BALLARD ANGRY. KEITH NEED TO TAKE OUT ANGER ON SOMETHING. KEITH SEE METAL GOALPOST. KEITH SEE TOMAS VOKOUN. TOMAS DIE!!! BALLARD SMASH!!! BALLARD SMASH!!!! BALLARD SMASH!!!!

kulikov is overrated by this organization. he's no where near a top 4 dman except on this team

With comments such as the one about Kulikov, it's no wonder Panther fans are laughed at...

too many people just need to go back to being Xbox GM/coaches.

I'd say Reinprecht was a steal of a trade...

STSDO, stop being the rearview mirror, drama queen Xbox GM like all your other little buddies. How do you expect to hold people accountable and complain about turnover at the same time? The last time they stole someone in a trade was McCabe. Get over the Stu Barnes trade already. Agree that they need a better Hockey Operations President. But Yormark shouldn't go anywhere on the business side. Shero pointed Poile out because he's one of the best GM's in the last decade. The question wasn't meant to be an Academy Award acceptence speech. It's clear Sexton hasn't been as successful as Poile. Not many have been. Sexton has been active (dare I say proactive) if nothing else since he's been here. And he hasn't been here a year yet! It's like blaming Obama for the last decade of economic sewage. And if you expect to cleanhouse from the ownership level, you are delusional if you think that equals a quick turn around. Get a hold of yourself.

On that note, I would like to see a couple things. 1) DeBoer needs to get a little tougher on these guys. Generally, I like his menality of not planning a parade during a hot streak, and not hiring an execution squad when they lose a couple in a row. But what this team is missing when they lose and have when they win is a sense of urgency. That comes from leadership. Which brings me to my next point 2) This team has lacked veteran leadership for a long time. Neiwy and Roberts brought it. Unfortunately, it has to come from within in this teams situation and that's where the head coach is so important. 3) Somehow, someway, they need to improve the roster from the top down. This isn't easy either, but I feel if they aren't going to be bad enough to get a young impact player high in the draft, you need to sacrifice a couple first rounders to acquire that talent. Burke had the nuts to do it, and he has half the roster Florida has. Drafting 10-15 in the draft isn't going to get you a top talent in a given year. And I think most would agree based on the confidence (or lack of) of the scouting dept.

Ryan:

My point wasn't the Barnes trade but how you get yourself into this position. As far as Yormark you can keep him on the business side if that is all that he does, however, that is not what he does, he is also on the hockey side.

As far as Sexton he has been here 3 years prior to that he was out of the league, my point is that we need a strong hockey person over the operations including the GM, right now the GM reports to Yormark.

It was only 2 years ago that we had our own AHL team, you don't develop players if you don't teach them the same system in the minors.

We make poor trades, I would not call getting McCabe a steal, yes Van Ryn has been injured and Toronto has nothing to show for it except it lowers their cap hit (which was their goal).

Look at the teams that are successful and they all have better management at the top which is where it starts.

Until management changes we will continue to be the laughing stock if we are mentioned at all. The Panthers have been mentioned more for a player injuring their teammate then they have the rest of the season combined

Again, Reinprecht was a steal.

how about a free agent. RDFL

I was responding to season ticket holder since day one's comment. But Moore's been a decent signing, not that he's a steal or anything but he leads the team in faceoff percentage among centers (Booth's 2 for 3 and Repik's 1 for 1).

we need talent. Instead of hoping players will develop into great hockey players, why not just get a star through free agency?

Such as?

Am i the only one who sees in the last 5 games the lack of urgency skating. sure, there's a couple of exceptions ( Victor O. comes to mind), but i dont see the dig in there and skate hard every shift that i see on other teams. is it just me? why cant someone get that across while watching tape? Im especially reffering to battles to loose pucks.

Can't get a star at present, unless he's underperforming and on waivers and also has a massive cap hit, or sign someone from Europe, and he passes through waivers, meaning you have to sign him to a massive cap hit just to have him stay. Dubie was playin net in Russia last year, the Isles signed him, but Columbus claimed him on waivers before he could even join the Isles.

Rhino wasn't a steal, solely because he could have been had for free a few days later. Trading a commodity, regardless how little value the perception is, for something you could have free within a week, does not qualify as a steal.

McCabe doesn't qualify as a steal, as the Leafs were begging for someone to take him for free. They were lookin to shed salary, and takin a lower cap hit offset any value McCabe might have had as a player. And this current role for McCabe is a retirement. No contenders desire to have him.

As for how to fix this team, it needs to be a Going Out of Business sale, EVERYTHING must go. Its doens't take being an XBOX gm to think that. It takes a brain firmly planted in reality of the situation to know that. But if people want to continue being delusional after (what is it now?) 9 seasons with no playoffs, they'll never see another Stanley Cup final in the Magic City. Real contenders have depth. Not a bunch of third liners who MIGHT step up, but true talent coming down the pipeline. Panthers don't have that, with begging MAYBE Matthias or Repik might be able to score a few and no one else with any offensive potential in Rochester.

I'll build this team into a contender in 3 years and a Cup finalist in 5. Guaranteed.

He could've been had, but would other teams have expressed interest in him? Would Florida have his exclusive attention? He's either a steal of a trade of a steal of an FA signing.

You're talkin about a 2nd line player on 90% of teams in the NHL being a steal. That's like Jon Sim a steal of a player, when he has never really done anything, just because he scored a few goals after a trade to Florida. I like Steve. I liked him when he played in Phoenix. I like the acquisition of him, in any way, but he isn't a steal. Luongo and Jokinen for Parrish and waiver wire material was a steal. Luongo for Bertuzzi and waiver material is a steal. The acquisition of a game changing player for a bag a pucks is the standard for quantifying a roster move as a steal. Rhino isn't a game changing player. He's just benefitting from injuries and the lack of any quality players on Florida presently. If he goes on to score 35 plus goals or 80 plus points, then maybe I'd consider him a steal. Otherwise, he's only benefiting from being the only option Florida has presently.

You don't just "steal" someone. I know that's hard to understand when you go through the Luongo situation. But I can think of three such trades that were clearly "steal" situations. Luango (x2) and Thornton. I'm sure there are other ones, but they're rare. McCabe is as close to a steal you get. Argue all you want, but he's a top 4 Dman on 90% of teams. It doesn't matter if it was a salary dump or not. Hell, you'd think you'd be proud of the Panthers at the other end of a salary dump. Rhino was a solid pickup. It takes an ultimate pessimist to believe that it isn't savvy to trade a career AHLer to get the rights to someone that will probably score 20+ goals this year. But, you're right...could you imagine this team with Meyer on the second line. CHAMPIONSHIP! You talk down this team as if you expect them to be the Red Wings. Come on...snap out of it. And you claim your not delusional, haha! It's not talent this team lacks, it's a sense of urgency and mental toughness.

If you really want to talk a steal, the last steal the Panthers truly had then, was tradin Val Bure for Mike Van Ryn and then reacquirring Bure for nothing. Then turning around and using Van Ryn for a more serviceable asset. If you want to really stretch it and call something a steal, gettin Van Ryn from St Louis was a steal. Marco Sturm and Brad Stuart are far from being poor players. I wouldn't classify the Thornton trade a steal. Just because Boston didn't maximize the value of their side of the trade, doens't make it a steal.

Mental toughness and urgency won't do anything for a team lacking depth, lacking scoring, and lacking cohesion due consistent turnover.

When this team is flying around, fighting for lose pucks, taking hits to make plays is when they are playing at their best. Those are characteristics of a team with an hard working identity. That has nothing to do with talent and scoring. Scoring comes. Horton, Weiss, Stillman, Frolik, Booth etc have top 6 NHL talent. Unfortunately, this team can only do it for 40 min. Give me a team that plays 60 min of blood, sweat, and tears hockey. I'd be the first person to admit that a big #1 center, with talent oozing out of his ears would help this team. But that's one piece, NOT the foundation. Talent is secondary to fundamental habits, discipline, heart. I really like Deboer, but he was brought in as a guy that could get through to the young talent, to buy into his system. And maybe I'm wrong, and he's not the right guy/motivator. But the undeniable principle of success is you can make up for a lot of talent by playing with heart and working your bag off. That is what seems to be missing. They've shown they can play with the best teams in the league in the last road trip. Detroit, Buffalo, NYR. They beat them all. THIS TEAM IS TALENTED ENOUGH TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. Maybe not to contend for the cup, but very few teams have the luxery of making a 1 or 2 season fix. Philly is probably the exception to the rule. They had the assets to aquire Hartnell, Upshall, Timonen, Briere, etc. People want to play in cities like Philly. This team (and the fans) need to realize that they aren't going to get any help. As far as depth, they have as good an AHL team right now as anyone. Sure, they don't have a budding star, but not many teams do. But what makes a young player develop quickly is when he can come in an NHL locker and see a group of 15-20 guys that understand the hard work, passion, and dedication to play 82 games a year in this league. Gelinas, Belfour, and Roberts had a positive effect in that repspect. Those 15-20 guys are the players that need to set that bar high for themselves, so when the younger players come up, they understand and strive to acheive the same plateau. Unfortunately, it's the young guys like McCardle and O that are setting that bar right now.

Any how Panthers offer was not bad according to me.

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