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30 posts from February 2010

February 08, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday: Fleur-de-Champs

Saints I'm in Charlotte -- OK, Concord, N.C. -- but the Panthers gathered in a restaurant in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday evening with a few things on the agenda.

First, they needed a place to watch the Super Bowl.

Second, they were together for an annual rite of passage around the league as Florida’s rookies treated their team to what usually is a pricy dinner.

Rookie defenseman Dmitry Kulikov joked Saturday night that he knows his teammates won’t buy the “left my credit card at home’’ excuse when the bill comes, so he’s ready to just take it as it comes.

And that’s kind of how Kulikov has treated this season.

An 18-year-old when training camp opened in September, Kulikov was told by the Panthers that he would have a chance to make the team despite his age.

General manager Randy Sexton was ecstatic when Kulikov fell to the Panthers at 14 in last summer’s draft, Florida having Kulikov in their top four. Contract issues scared most teams away from the talented defenseman, but Sexton said the team researched the issue thoroughly and figured Kulikov could get out of it.

Once he did, Kulikov was cleared to open the season in the big leagues.

“Making the team right out of training camp was great and it’s been everything I thought it would be,’’ said Kulikov, now 19. “I just have to keep playing this way and keep improving every day. I can’t be too fancy. I have to keep things simple.’’

Kulikov had a strong training camp and looked like he belonged in Florida’s first two games in Finland. But he looked the part of a greenhorn in the Panthers’ first game in North America, as Kulikov got burned a few times in Florida’s 7-2 loss to the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Kulikov was a minus-4 in that game.

Coach Pete DeBoer says he can name the mistakes Kulikov has made since. Saturday night, Atlanta’s Evander Kane (taken fourth in last summer’s draft) was awarded an open net goal when Kulikov threw his stick at the puck as it was sliding toward the net. The puck was going in anyway; Kulikov was just trying to make a play.

“I’ve been very impressed. He’s going to be an elite NHL defenseman, not just a good one,’’ DeBoer said. “You forget how young he is. He looks like a seasoned veteran out there, hardly makes any mistakes. If he makes mistakes, for me, they are out of fatigue or is out-muscled. They aren’t mental errors or panic plays with the puck. That’s extremely rare for a defenseman coming into this league.’’

Sexton said he enjoyed interviewing Kulikov during the draft screening process and has enjoyed getting to know him as a member of the Panthers. Kulikov left his family behind in Russia to play in Quebec last season, the thought being he would improve his draft stock by showing the many scouts he could adapt to the North American style of hockey.

Kulikov also wanted to learn how to speak English. In just over a year, Kulikov could be considered fluent in three languages: Russian, English and French. It’s those kind of smarts and maturity that have teammates and coaches gushing over Kulikov’s future.

“We were lucky to get him at 14, but we did our homework,’’ said Sexton, who was Florida’s interim GM at the June Draft when Kulikov was selected.

“He’s shown flashes that he’s going to be a special player. And I use that term carefully. He has such a great passion for the game. He has a twinkle in his eye like there’s no place other than the rink he would rather be. That shows in his work and how he plays the game.’’

TRADE WORKS

Sexton said Sunday morning that the Panthers could make a trade or two before the Olympic break kicks in this weekend. The Panthers offense has been horrendous the past few weeks, with the team mustering just 12 goals in the past 10 games.

Sexton, who said Saturday night that he has spoken to every other GM in the league, says he has as many as nine different trade scenarios in the works.

“We are being active, there’s no doubt about that,’’ he said.

(*) The Panthers have three games before taking a few weeks off because of the Olympics. After the Panthers play host to the Bruins on Saturday, the team won’t return to action until March 2 when Florida returns to Atlanta.

Although some players will skate in Coral Springs during the 10 day down period, it will be on their own; the Panthers aren’t even allowed to open up the locker room for those players. The team officially returns to practice on Feb. 24. The league trade deadline is March 3, but moves cannot be made during the break.

(*) The Panthers will practice at the RBC Center on Monday afternoon before playing the Hurricanes there on Tuesday night.

February 06, 2010

Thrashed in Atlanta: Florida loses to Truck Stop Thrashers

Bus ATLANTA – The Thrashers had plenty of built in excuses for a poor performance on Saturday night.

Thanks to the monster snow storm that hit the east coast, the team was stuck in Washington  D.C. after Friday’s game.

The Thrashers spent almost six hours on a bus to Virginia before finally flying to Atlanta, arriving at their rink less than two hours before playing the Panthers.

Florida coach Pete DeBoer knew the Thrashers might use their predicament as a rallying point.

Sometimes, DeBoer must hate being right.

After falling behind by two goals in the opening period, the Thrashers came from behind to beat the Panthers 4-2 in front of a raucous crowd at Philips Arena. Saturday’s game was postponed almost an hour to allow the Thrashers more time to get to the arena.

“We’ll be making a mistake if we think this gives us any sort of advantage,’’ DeBoer said before the game. “I’ve seen teams in this situation play like they have nothing to lose.’’

After the game, DeBoer said it really didn’t matter that the Thrashers were put in a bind because at least that team was healthy. The Panthers were playing without leading scorers Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton because of injuries, and the team continues to struggle offensively.

Florida held a 2-0 lead after Radek Dvorak broke his 15 game goal-less streak by beating Johan Hedberg twice within an 11 minute span. But the Thrashers came charging in the second and dominated the period, tying it up on a pair of goals. Atlanta then added two more in the final 4:26.

“We don’t have Weiss or Horton in the lineup and they have a good team with a full lineup,’’ DeBoer said angrily. “I thought we played much better than we did at home [Friday]. But you have to give them some credit. I don’t think it was anything we were overly poor at. They worked hard and we couldn’t keep up.

“It has nothing to do with travel. They have a young team with good legs. They skated. Yeah, they out-skated us in the second and third periods. But we’re short guys. Our effort was there. We didn’t finish some of the opportunities we had.’’

The Panthers goal woes continued as the team now has 12 goals in their past 10 games. Florida got a power play goal in Friday’s lackluster loss to the Flames, but went 0-for-7 on the power play Saturday.

Not long after the Panthers failed to convert on their final power play chance of the night, Niclas Bergfors -- playing in his first home game since coming over in the Ilya Kovalchuk blockbuster deal on Thursday -- netted the game winner by scoring with 4:26 left.

Evander Kane was awarded an empty net goal after fellow rookie Dmitry Kulikov threw his stick in the way of the puck on a breakaway.

The Panthers have lost three straight, scoring a total of three goals in those games.

“You can’t make excuses anymore,’’ David Booth said. “You have to be ready to play every night, especially against a team with some travel problems. You have to finish a team off when up by two goals. We have to start doing that. I’ve been saying that, it seems, ever since I’ve been here.’’

TRADE WINDS?

General manager Randy Sexton said he has had numerous talks with other GMs around the league regarding possible deals but the Panthers weren’t actively working on a trade.

“Are we happy where we are? No,’’ Sexton said. “But we need to get on track. But, I’m going to try and make some moves between now and the deadline if we can. It takes two to tango. If we can find a dance partner, we’ll try to make ourselves better.’’

(*) Sexton added that there was little talk about postponing Saturday’s game once it became apparent the Thrashers would be able to fly home in the late afternoon.

The Thrashers spent much of the day traveling – either by bus to Richmond, Va., or in their air charter. The team’s equipment arrived at the arena around 6:10 p.m.

 (*) Center Stephen Weiss missed his second game since Jan. 18 with what DeBoer called a nagging injury. Weiss got hit hard in the first period of Friday’s game against the Flames but continued on. Weiss is on the trip and could return Tuesday against the Hurricanes in Raleigh.

Nick Tarnasky replaced Weiss in the lineup but didn’t see much time. He took a 10 minute misconduct in the second period.

(*) Defenseman Keaton Ellerby was recalled from Florida’s AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., to fill in for Bryan Allen. Allen is expected to return on Tuesday.

(*) Saturday was Atlanta’s final home game until after the Olympic break. The Thrashers next home game? March 2 against the Panthers.

 

Saturday Night LIVE!: The Thrashers Have Landed ... Kickoff Now 7:53 P.M. ... Stephen Weiss OUT

Airport ATLANTA -- Just got word from the Atlanta equipment guys that the Thrashers plane landed around 5:45 and they should be en route to Philips Arena soon.

The Panthers were doing their usual soccer game warmup at the time.

Again: The Panthers have no excuses tonight. They have been here since last night, have gone through their regular routine.

We'll be LIVE! here in a little bit.

-- Start of the game has been moved back again; we're now scheduled for 7:53 p.m. The Thrashers got to the arena at around 6:10 p.m.

-- Stephen Weiss got smashed into the boards during the first period of Friday's game and aggravated what is believed to be a back injury he's been playing with for a while now.

Weiss is out of tonight's game but is on the trip; he's day-to-day and could return Tuesday in Raleigh.

-- Not only are we on Twitter (@OnFrozenPond), you can also follow us on Facebook. Look for On Frozen Pond and ask to be friends. I probably won't say no.

-- Tomas Vokoun in net again tonight.

-- No television at all tonight so sayeth the Thrashers...just you, me and Moller...

UPDATE: The Thrashers are Coming: Start Time now Approximately 7:30 p.m. ... LIVE! GameDay Chat Tonight

Frosty CHARLOTTE -- Nasty day up in the mid-Atlantic region with Washington D.C. basically shut down because of the snow.

Of course, I see Georgetown is playing host to Villanova, so maybe it's not all bad.

The Thrashers got snowed in last night and weren't able to get out of DC.The team piled into a bus and headed south on I-95 -- destination Richmond, Va.

From what I see here and in Lauderdale, all flights to that airport are canceled too. But charter flights can sometimes get around closures that commercial flights cannot -- or will not.

Last year, Steve X. and myself got caught in a D.C. blizzard and decided to drive to Atlanta. Driving through blinding snow, it took us almost six hours to get to Richmond -- a drive that shouldn't take more than 2 1/2. The roads were an absolute mess. Apparently, the Thrashers have their own snow plow leading the way.

Good for them.

Here is a photo of some of the white stuff the Thrashers have to deal with today.

UPDATE: As of 3:46 p.m., the Thrashers plane was being de-iced and they were cleared to take off, although word is they had not as of 4:05. Tonight's game will not start until 7:30 at the earliest. The Thrashers will board their bus in Atlanta and go straight from the airport to the arena and begin their pregame.

I don't think this needs to be said, but the Panthers have no excuses tonight. A loss to a team that has been cooped up in a hotel, charter bus and stuck on a runway all day -- only to go straight to the rink to play a game -- would be more than embarrassing.

-- Word is the Wizards-Hawks game scheduled to be played in DC has been called off. Tomorrow's NBC game between the Caps and Pens is also in doubt.

-- Since we have snow delays and apparently the in-house camera view on television tonight (and Molls on radio) let's plan on a LIVE! blog during tonight's game. Had a real good turnout earlier in the week (course that was a Monday night with zero TV and not Super Bowl Saturday) so lets see what happens.

Will kick 'er off sometime around 7.

Make sure you come by for a visit.

Jay Bouwmeester First Star? News to the Media ... Thrashers Stranded ... Rostislav Olesz to Edmonton?

Boallstar4 The South Florida media (usually just myself and Steve Gorten since Brian Y. moved to the Davie Dolphins beat) votes on the Three Stars of each Panthers home game.

We sometimes disagree and sometimes the Panthers do what they want anyway. Since we vote with seven minutes left in a game, things change and since we're on deadline, the Panthers do what they think is right yet still credit us with the selection -- whether we want it (we don't) or not.

And then something happens like tonight.

Jay Bouwmeester, he of the one assist, was apparently named the first star of Friday night's game at The Billboard.

Apparently because that's what it says on the official game sheet.

 
OFFICIALS 3 STARS By:South Florida Media
Referee Linesman
#14 Dennis LaRue
#43 Brian Pochmara
#67 Pierre Champoux
#73 Vaughan Rody
Standby  Standby 
1. CGY D 4 J.BOUWMEESTER
2. FLA G 29 T.VOKOUN
3. CGY R 26 A.KOTALIK
 


Only problem is, Jay wasn't selected as one of the top stars of the game so all you angry Panthers fans who thought this was some cruel joke cooked up by the two beat writers can relax.

This is just a mix up.

Here's what happened, as far as I can tell. Somehow, the top star got mixed up in the translation. The official three stars (and listen, Jay has a good case to be included here because there was really no true star tonight) were:

3. Kotalik (opening goal off Leopold's skate); 2. Vokoun (where would they be without him?) and 1. Giordano (had the game-winning goal, so why not).

This list was called up to the announcer's desk and was announced this way by PA guy Bill Murphy. But somehow Bouwmeester's name got typed into the scoreboard and put onto the official game sheet. How did this happen? The only thing I can think of is someone heard Calgary No. 5, looked at the roster and typed in No. 4 -- Bouwmeester.

Bouwmeester was not announced as the first star nor did he come out for the salute. But he is on the game sheet (for now) and I am hearing it from irate Panthers fans who thought I had something to do with it.

Well, Steve X. may have.

Just kidding. He didn't.

-- Washington D.C. can claim it has two hockey teams tonight as the Atlanta Thrashers are taking up residence because of the snow storm. Word is the Thrash are stranded for the night and will try and fly south sometime tomorrow. The Panthers are in Atlanta now, enjoying that terrific downtown nightlife I am sure.

Let's hope the Thrashers get out of town. Don't want to have to go back there for a makeup game.

Read somewhere tonight that the Penguins are going to bypass the local DC airports tomorrow (good idea says the guy stuck on a runway for 3 1/2 hours last weekend) and will land at Andrews Air Force Base so they can play the Caps on Sunday.

-- Just checking my Twitter while watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles and came across this note from

http://twitter.com/nhlrumor

This site says this an unconfirmed deal and it's too late for me to look into it -- and I'm flying in a few hours. So we'll see. Oh, yeah, the deal.

Rostislav Olesz and prospect Drew Shore (a center at the University of Denver who seems to be playing well for the Pioneers this season) to Edmonton for center Shawn Horcoff and a draft pick.

Horcoff, who has nine goals and 11 assists in 51 games this season, is signed through the next FIVE seasons averaging $5.5 million per. Ouch.

But, Olesz is signed for the next four years @ 3.125 mil per. One bad contract for another? I would think Edmonton would have to be taking something else Florida doesn't want back, or getting more coming east. Horcoff is going to be very, very, hard to move.

Feel free to comment below.

February 05, 2010

Panthers Just Awful in Loss: Pete DeBoer's Seen Enough

Pantherlogo After another loss on Friday night, words like brutal, frustrating and embarrassing were words spoken in the Panthers locker room.

“That pretty much sums it up,'' coach Pete DeBoer said grimly.

The Panthers put up just 13 shots in Friday's 2-1 loss to Calgary at BankAtlantic Center – including a grand total of six in the final 40 minutes. The Panthers came into the third trailing by a goal and didn't take a shot for the first seven minutes of the period and ended up with just two during the point of a game where desperation was warranted.

Afterward, DeBoer said “we just got manhandled.'' When asked how to change that, he was succinct and candid.

With just one goal on Friday against the travel weary Flames (they flew in from Calgary on Thursday), the Panthers have scored 10 goals in the past nine games.

“You would think when you have some forwards who haven't scored in 14, 15, 16 games, they might want to get their noses dirty to try and get one,'' said DeBoer.

“We weren't interested in that tonight. .-.-. We have lines of guys who haven't scored in 15 games. It's tough. The only way to fix that is through free agency in the summer.''

What's DeBoer talking about?

The Panthers scored just one goal in two games this week and have 10 in their past nine games.


Consider this: The top line of Stephen Weiss and Michael Frolik (David Booth is scoreless in his first three games back from injury) have combined for just one goal in the past 10 games.

And it's not just Weiss and Frolik.

In the past 10 games, Radek Dvorak, Dominic Moore, Steven Reinprecht, Kamil Kreps and Frolik have zero goals. Cory Stillman has three in that span, rookie Shawn Matthias two (both against Montreal in 2-1 win).

With those kind of numbers, DeBoer was expecting a little more effort on Friday. The Panthers took just 13 shots on Friday – two in the final period.

Despite the lack of shots on the score sheet, the Panthers actually created enough scoring chances that, if converted, that probably would have been good enough to win.

Ah, if only.

Florida players misfired on a number of scoring chances during the game and was outshot by 27. Of the two goals Vokoun gave up, one came off the skate of teammate Jordan Leopold.

“We were completely out played,'' said Leopold, who spent the end of last season with the Flames. “Vokoun kept us in their once again. We didn't show up to compete. We have another game [Saturday]. Those points are important too.''

Calgary, which had come to Sunrise with wins in just three of the past 15 games, never trailed in Friday's game as the Flames held leads of 1-0 and 2-1.

Florida tied the score in the second when Dennis Seidenberg whipped a shot from the right circle on a power play chance – on one of just 11 shots taken by the Panthers in the first 40 minutes.

The Panthers missed two open nets (Rostislav Olesz and Radek Dvorak) and had two prime chances with players in front (Shawn Matthias and Kamil Kreps) not able to get a handle on the puck. Michael Frolik also snapped one off the goal post early in the third.

In the second, just before Calgary scored what would be the game-winning goal, Stephen Weiss and Dvorak got loose on a short handed chance. Weiss slid a pretty cross-ice pass to Dvorak and with goalie Miikka Kiprusoff out of position, the Panthers had a great chance to take the lead. Only Dvorak couldn't connect.

A minute later, Mark Giordano did, taking a long shot from 35 feet out. The puck found a way over Vokoun's shoulder and the Flames were back in front.

“We just spent too much time in our zone and when we got it across, we didn't have enough energy to get anything done,'' said Weiss. “We spent all our energy in our own zone. That's a game, looking at their travel and us being off all week, should be in the bank. We didn't get it done. It's disappointing. We have so many different intentions before the game and see it end like that, it's frustrating. We'll regroup and have a better effort [Saturday].''

Calgary took a 1-0 lead late in the first as former Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester – lustily booed every time he touched the puck – fired a puck toward the net on a power play chance. Bouwmeester's shot found the recently acquired Ales Kotalik and his shot bounced off of Leopold's skate and past Vokoun with 9.4 seconds left in the period.

Bouwmeester was hit in the back by a large rubber rat as the game ended and he was skating toward his bench. He didn't seem to notice it.

-- Word from Kevin O. in Rochester is that Keaton Ellerby is expected to be recalled by the Panthers for tomorrow's game in the 'ATL.' Bet here is that they are giving Bryan Allen's knee the night off.

February 04, 2010

Look Who's Back: Jay Bouwmeester in South Florida

Bocalgary

Not much going on right now, what with GM Randy Sexton in Rochester and the Panthers not playing for a few days.

The big news around town is the return of Jay Bouwmeester.

'Big Bo' returns to the BankAtlantic Center on Friday night for the first time since he played his final game there with the Panthers on April 11, 2009.

Bouwmeester refused to sign a long-term deal with the Panthers and, in June, was traded to Calgary where he almost immediately signed a five-year pact with the Flames.

One of the reasons Bouwmeester wanted out of Florida was because of the lack of passion that exists for hockey in the sunny south.

In Calgary, the hockey team is the biggest thing going. Teammates in Florida weren't exactly surprised when he left after seven years with the franchise.

“I'm used to playing with him, not against him, but when the game starts, that's out the door,'' said Stephen Weiss, Bouwmeester's teammate since 2002. “We'll get our hellos in before the game, but then it's all business. We were pretty close. We came here at about the same time, spent a lot of time in the early years together. We became pretty close buddies.''

Said coach Pete DeBoer: “I think we're going to see the best of Bo here. He's going to be skating with the puck, moving and jumping into the play. When he's at the top of his game, he's hard to handle.''

Yet when the Flames struggle, it's not much fun to be playing in Calgary. On Wednesday, the Flames won for just the third time in 15 games. General manager Darryl Sutter made two big trades in the past week, trading All-Star defenseman Dion Phaneuf to Toronto and former Panthers captain Olli Jokinen to the Rangers.

When Bouwmeester was with the Panthers and they were struggling – which was often – no big deal. In Calgary?

“There are obviously differences between the two places, but honestly this has been good,'' said Bouwmeester. “I knew what I was getting into. People are pretty passionate about their hockey up here and they take some pride in the team. If you are doing well, it affects the city in a good way. They take pride in their hockey here. There's an obvious interest.''

Bouwmeester hasn't been the player the Flames had hoped for on the offensive end – and he's starting to feel the heat for it. Bouwmeester scored 15 goals in each of the past two seasons with the Panthers. Through 57 games this season, he has two. Bouwmeester says he's not letting the criticism affect his game.

“This year has brought a lot of ups and downs,'' said Bouwmeester, who faced the Panthers this preseason in Calgary. “The offensive side of things haven't gone the way I would have liked. That's been the case for a lot of guys around here. It's one of those things where take it a day at a time. I want to bring success, but it's been a little bit hard to come by.

Jordan Leopold, who came to the Panthers from Calgary in the summertime trade, says it's hard to shield yourself from criticism in a Canadian hockey market. There were a lot of expectations for the Flames this season – many preseason publications had them as a Stanley Cup contender from the west – and now the team is struggling just to make the playoffs.

The Flames beat Carolina 4-1 on Wednesday to give them two wins in their past three – albeit against two of the worst teams in the league. Friday's game in Sunrise kicks off a three-game road trip, a stint away from home that may be welcomed.

For Bouwmeester, this is just another road game for him. He never put down roots in South Florida and seemed like he couldn't wait to get out of town during the offseason. This region isn't for everyone – and it definitely wasn't to Bouwmeester's liking. A native of Edmonton, Bouwmeester has found his way home although he says he does have a number of fond memories of his time with the Panthers.

“I don't really have too many expectations of what's going to happen,'' he said. “We're going to play a game and move on. I'm not really treating it as a big deal. There are some people I'd like to see, sure, but we're not there for very long. It won't be a big distraction.''

BOOTH UP FRONT

David Booth was back on Florida's top line as early as the second period on Monday. He'll start Friday's game there as well, reunited with Weiss at center. This will be Booth's third game back from a 45 game absence because of a concussion.

The Panthers hope the revamped top line will create some offensive production. Both Weiss and Michael Frolik have struggled of late. Weiss has one goal in nine games; Frolik one in 11.

“I don't think there's any doubt we have a couple of guys who need to find their offensive game,'' DeBoer said of a team that has nine goals in eight games. “We have to make sure we're giving those guys an opportunity, but it's not a job for life on that line. If you don't produce, you might want to give other people a chance.''

MORE BO ON OLLI

The Flames are a much different team today than they were a few days ago. Gone is Phaneuf as well as Jokinen.

"This is one of those things where we're in it as a team,'' Bouwmeester said about the Flames' struggles.

"It's not one guy doing his thing on his own. With all these changes and stuff, I think on paper, we're good from a forward standpoint. We have a whole bunch of forwards, lot of depth there. We hope to start clicking right away. Get off and running.

"You don't really think about those [trades] too much. The way it went down with the rumors and it finally happened lad night, had everyone on edge. This time a week ago, no, not worrying about that kind of thing. I think it was a roller coaster for [Olli], not knowing what was going on.

"I saw him last night when he was leaving. He would have liked to stay, but he realized the situation. He's getting a fresh start.''

-- And for those of you who don't like reading about Bo and Olli, here's a little something for you. I wrote this in the summer when the Panthers visited Calgary.

It's obvious Jokinen still has a soft spot in his heart for the Panthers. And he can't wait to return to Sunrise for the first time since being traded away when Calgary visits on Feb. 5.

''They had a good run last year and hopefully this year they can make the playoffs this year,'' said Jokinen, who spent most of the summer with his wife Katerina and their daughters at their Broward County home.

''I especially wish that for the fans in South Florida. They deserve to see playoff hockey. They have been very supportive all these years. The Panthers came close, hopefully they take that extra step. .-.-. In February, it'll be a lot of fun there. It'll be strange being on the other side.''

FRIDAY: FLAMES AT PANTHERS

When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise

TV/Radio: FSNF; WAXY-790

The series: Calgary leads 11-6-3

The game: The Flames are making just their third appearance in Sunrise since 2002. The Panthers have gotten three of four points in the previous two home games. Calgary has won two of three – although those wins were against Edmonton and Carolina. The Flames have won just three of their past 15 (3-9-3). Thanks to a couple of trades, the Flames will have eight fairly new faces in the lineup. Tomas Vokoun will start in net Friday and likely again Saturday in Atlanta.

February 02, 2010

Olli Jokinen Leaving Flames, Traded to Rangers: Sunrise Homecoming Postponed Until April

Ollitrade Those of hoping to see Olli Jokinen at The Billboard on Friday when the Flames come to town will now have to wait until the Rangers come to town in April.

The former Panthers captain was traded to the Rangers tonight following the Flames 3-0 loss to the visiting Flyers.

Y'all will just have to settle for Jay Bouwmeester and Nik Hagman.

Jokinen spoke to the media in Calgary after Monday's game and the trade that officially followed it.

Hard to believe the Flames held off on this deal until they played the Flyers. One more game made that much of a difference?

Ollicalgary2 "Eleven months ago, when I got traded here I was hoping I could stay here the rest of my career, but like I say it’s a brutal business,’’ Jokinen told The Calgary Herald, quoted as he was leaving the Saddledome.

"That’s the way it goes. It comes with the salary. When you make $5 million dollars, 11 goals is not going to cut it. It’s definitely a slap in the face to get traded.’’

He also said this about playing in a game -- for a team -- knowing the trade was going down. Word was his wife Katerina went to the game knowing a deal was going to happen soon after the game concluded.

That has to be a strange feeling, but hopefully she got to say goodbye to all the friends she made in Calgary. Just like she had to say goodbye to all those friends in Phoenix -- and South Florida -- before.

Remember, it wasn't just Olli being traded. It was his family as well.

Like in Florida, Olli was always good at looking at the big picture, knowing that his financial situation won't buy him sympathy from some fans out there struggling to make it in the real world.

"This is what we do for a living,'' he said. "We make good money. We get paid good dollars. [Moving] is the sacrifices we have to do."

Olli isn't headed east to New York just yet. According to reports, he's on his way to California to meet up with the Rangers in Los Angeles. Sports is funny this way, yes? Olli's NHL career started with the Kings before he headed to the Islanders.

Olli came to the Panthers from the Islanders, and this is where he enjoyed his greatest success as a pro. He didn't want to leave the Panthers, know that.

But his actions on the ice in the final weeks of the 2007-08 season all but dictated he had to go. As captain of the Panthers, he lost a room that he had owned months before.

Players who had his back saw what appeared to them as him turning his back on the franchise and hampering the team's chances to make the playoffs to rid them of their coach for reasons as personal as they were professional.

Jacques Martin knew this as well.

When JM was fired as coach but asked to stay on as GM, there was little doubt he was going to trade Olli.

After all, it was Olli's uninspired play down the stretch that helped facilitate JM being fired as coach -- a job he still feels he should still have.

Of course, now looking back, perhaps there was something else there. Olli hasn't put up the same kind of numbers since his skate accidentally slashed Richard Zednik in the neck in Buffalo on Feb. 10, 2008.

Look at the stats: In the first 58 games during the 2007-08 season -- including the goal in Buffalo -- Jokinen had 27 goals and 29 assists (0.97 points per game).

After that, he finished with seven goals and eight assists in 24 games (0.63).

In the 156 games since the Zednik incident, Jokinen has 47 goals and 60 assists (0.69 points per game) for the Panthers, Coyotes and Flames. During his top five seasons with the Panthers (2002-08), Jokinen scored 374 points in 409 games (0.91).

So you can see, his numbers have dropped off.

"You’ve got to play hard every time you go on the ice, no matter what distractions you have," Olli said, according to Scott Cruickshank of The Calgary Herald.

"You play for that sweater, that logo on the front, as long as they tell you you’re part of the team. It was a long day. I obviously heard everything yesterday. Last night, I was kind of surprised. It was a big day yesterday. Dion got traded. I, obviously, wasn’t expecting to get moved. It’s part of the business. I’ve got to move on."

Freetix -- Of course, it won't cost much to see Friday's game against the Flames.

Swing on over to Quarterdeck across from Sawgrass Mills and pick up some freebies.

They have plenty.

-- Jokinen photos courtesy of The Calgary Herald; Photo at right courtesy of George Richards' cellphone.

February 01, 2010

LIVE! From Sunrise: Ducks vs. Panthers

Ducks Since tonight's game is Pantherinaug blacked out around the world (don't ask for an online feed because there isn't one), I figured those of you not inside the Sunrise Arena could come on here and talk a little hockey.

We'll get this cranked up in earnest closer to game time, but if there's a question you want answered, go ahead and send it off to me and I'll try my best to answer it.

These LIVE! blogs have been fun in the past so we should have a good spirited discussion tonight.

I hope. I'm a little under the weather today but I hope to bring my fastball with me to the arena. Going to pick up some soup and rice on the way in. Hope that invigorates me.

Blame it on the Rain: Ducks Swim through Sunrise ... Tomas Vokoun a Star of the Month ... McArdle Back in Roch ... Nick Boynton Beached

Millivanilli Sure is apropos that the Anaheim Mighty Ducks of Los Angeles are in town what with all this rain.

At least the Colts will feel right at home when they land today. Wasn't it raining the last time they were here for a Super Bowl?

Anyone watch the Grammys last night?

Me neither. But congrats go out to the pop sensation 'Milli Vanilli' for their Grammy wins. They are pictured at left. Solid work by the Grammy folks there. I'm sure we're going to enjoy those two for years and years. Very original sound.

Anywho, there was some more awards handed out.

Tomas Vokoun, lead goalie for the band Pantero, was named the league's Third Star for the month of January. Good for Vokoun. What a month, eh? Four shutouts, five straight wins at home to close things out.

Pretty nice.

Feburary starts tonight though.

-- TSN says the Calgary trade with the Rangers is on hold for now and it appears that Olli Jokinen will be in the lineup tonight when the Flames welcome the Flyers to the Saddledome. Olli usually had good games against Philly when he was with the Panthers...

The hold up, according to Larry Brooks, is Ales Kotalik weighing his options. He has a limited no movement clause apparently. He, at least he might play in Calgary. Kotalik has been scratched in eight of the past nine according to Brooks.

-- Kenndal McArdle says he's not going to change the way he plays whether he's in Rochester or north Weston. He tells Kevin O. of The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that "I can say they were happy with how I was playing," McArdle said. "Where they want me to play is not my choice. But at the end of the day, coming back is not a negative thing or a reflection on how I'm playing."

Check out the full story right here.

-- Don't forget, LIVE! chat tonight during the Ducks-Panthers game. Game is not on any TV, so either watch Versus, hang out with us online or come on down to the rink. I'm sure there are great seats still available.

-- Nick Boynton, the one-time Panther D-man who didn't get along with Pete DeBoer very well, will not be in the Anaheim lineup tonight. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Boynton was put on waivers today. I always liked Nick. Very candid, a good quote. Hope he's in the press box tonight, although I doubt that.

-- Don't forget to follow us on Twitter. Been pretty active lately. Starting to dig it. @OnFrozenPond