« Florida Panthers -- Past and Present -- Going for the Gold | Main | On Frozen Diamond: Baltimore Orioles Settle In to New Digs »

Rough Times in Rochester

Roch Remember all those good feelings at the start of the season when the Rochester Americans went weeks without feeling the sting of defeat?

Seems like a long time ago for the Amerks.

Things are getting testy in Rochester as the Americans have been slumping and sliding. Last night, during the Amerks 6-3 loss to Manitoba, fans began chanting derisive chants toward coach Benoit Groulx. There have been much grumbling that Groulx should be fired, but he's an employee of the Panthers -- and that's Florida's call.

Bad news came the other day when Kenndal McArdle injured his shoulder again; word is he is going to have the shoulder operated on which means he's out for the season -- and that hurts the Amerks as well as the Panthers.

Rochester's fortunes seem to mirror those of its parent team these days. The Amerks have lost six of eight -- but thanks to their quick start (unlike the Panthers), Rochester is still expected to make the postseason (again, unlike you know who). Of course, if they keep losing, they could lose their playoff spot as well.

The other day, Amerks beat writer Kevin Oklobzija filed a scathing blog post regarding the Panthers management of the franchise.

Here are some excerpts (link to blog here):

-- Their farm team is doing a nose-dive and no one wanted to see first-hand what’s going on? Do they realize the prospects are showing they don’t know how to win — again.

Oh, wait, DeBoer and company see that every night with the big team.

-- Everyone from the front office and coaching staff should have been here Monday morning, picking the brains of players, interrogating the coaches as to why the Amerks have played so poorly for so long, offering some advice and then sitting back and observing.

And while I’m asking questions, I have another one. How, pray tell, can the goalie coach not be here? And not just this week. Why has he not been here every other week or at least once a month? Has he looked at Alexander Salak’s numbers lately? Has he seen Tyler Plante play since his knee allowed him to return?

Does anyone in Florida care that the collective play of the goalies here is going downhill faster than Clark Griswold’s sled in Christmas Vacation?

I have been dumbfounded since November that the organization’s goalie coach spends the majority of his time with the NHL team. As if Tomas Vokoun needs someone to talk about angles every day.

-- Rochester is not a car ride from South Florida. In some ways, it is a pain for the Panthers brass to uproot itself from the warmth of South Florida and come to Rochester.

It’s not, however, a pain for Jeff Taffe, Shawn Matthias and Victor Oreskovich to get up around 5 a.m. Sunday to catch a 7 a.m. flight (with a connection) to Rochester, and then jump right on a bus and ride 2 1/2 hours to Binghamton to play a 5 p.m. AHL game. That’s not a hardship.

The absence of Florida management this week confirms what I’ve sensed for several weeks: Neither the Amerks, nor the Panthers, are on the road to recovery.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Thanks for thinking of us George....

I read the article since it was posted on HFboards. I think FL is planning to cut ties with Rochester once the affiliation agreement expires after next season. Supposedly a deadline of November is in place to renew but with the 2 franchise's just dont mesh well together.

the panthers (Yormark) theory is that you can scout by watching video and saving money by not having scouts travel.

It is unbelievable with no NHL for 2 weeks that no one from the organization (assistant coach, coach, GM) has gone to watch the prospects.

Even though the new owners talk a good game, this lack of action and lack of seeing what we have shows that as much as things change they stay the same we don't have the right hockey people running the hockey side.

until we have hockey people making hockey decisions and have people going to watch players we will continue to make poor draft picks, poor trades and poor free agent signings

I've been saying that there are problems in Rochester for a LONG TIME.

The main problem is goal scoring (and LACK THEREOF) by the previous Panther Draft Picks. Panthers not having their own AHL farm team until THIS YEAR does not help matters. THere was not even enough DECENT drafted players to fill Rochester, which is also why they picked up so many veteran free agents to one year contracts because they played horribly last season. Defense is also smaller than other teams, which is fixable by drafting more physical defenseman.

Funny, both coaches in Rochester and FLorida have nothing to work with. Hopefully, this changes next season with a ton of free agent signing and draft picks.

But let's not to be too mean to this year's draft class, Dadonov and Kulikov are producing. That's better than previous drafts by the Panthers TOP management. I just hope that the Panthers don't do the stupid thing, and let Vokoun go and bring up Salak. Salak is not ready for the NHL, next year he can be the backup but not this year. If you trade Vokoun, you got to bring another starting goalie in for two years.

By the way, goalie coach? Last I checked, he was a "consultant". Why would a consultant go to ROchester in the middle of winter...

Markstrom is likely to be the starter here while Salak or Plante serves as the backup. Vokoun would be traded at the draft, not the deadline.

I'd expect a consultant to work throughout the organization more than a coach. Being a consultant, he is not grounded to any one location. Point is moot because the direction is poor.

Markstrom is not signed

Here is what ESPN is saying about the front office

"The Panthers have declared themselves sellers despite being very much alive in the playoff chase. Although I believe it's a wise move for the club to create an identity for its franchise (what have they been waiting for?), I'm not so sure this management group can get that done. After all, GM Randy Sexton didn't just land in South Florida. He has been part of the Panthers' management team for the past few years."

Ownership says to wait until after the free agent signing period before we declare whether they are trying to turn this franchise around, the reality is that they have the wrong people leading the hockey operations

The people of Rochester are seeing what panther fans having been dealing with for years, and that is a management team that treats the product on the ice as an afterthought to the operations of the arena.

With more people in marketing then scouting is just the tip of the iceburg.

Yormark does his job well but it is at the cost of producing a hockey product that will compete for the cup

Hey Florida, we are NOT San Antonio. We actually CARE about our AHL team.

We are being sucked into the non winning culture that is the Panthers and I, for one, cannot wait until this affiliation is over.

There isn't one executive associated with the Panthers that is qualified to run a meat market, no less a hockey team. Jack Birch? What a joke. This guy wouldn't know talent if it bit him on his behind. We havent seen a goalie coach ALL SEASON. No wonder Salak has gone down the tubes lately.

One more year of this crap and then I hope its goodbye. I know for a fact that the Amerks ownership is very unhappy with the non-caring and non-winning ways of the parent.

This is not good.

George, since you have better access to these knuckleheads than we do, on behalf of the fans, say something to somebody! Thanks.

I have a strong feeling that the team will go back to a shared affiliation after this one expires. They have quite a few young guys in college and few others that will be AHL ready after next yr (outside of Robak, Jenks and Comrie) or the young guys that could play in the AHL will be in the NHL by then (Ellerby, Repik, Duco, etc). When you only have about 7 prospects that should be playing in the AHL (by that time), having to fill an entire team just doesnt quite make sense.

Panthers agreement with Rochester does not expire until next year. If the Panthers go back to a shared agreement than it sets the Panther organization back. THis was one of the problems with the sharing agreement with the Sabres.
Plus, let's recall that Rochester has tons of problems before Florida took over. The team was ready to leave due to arena problems, and Panthers swooped in to help out. I don't see Panthers leaving ROchester especially since most of their offeseason training will happen there this year. Things will change in Rochester once the Panthers can pick up more draft picks to fill it, and not depend on one year free agent signings such as Fitzpatrick, Mink, Taffe, etc. I think the Panthers will fill Rochester on March 4th through trades. Also, it would help if more fans came to the games in ROchester. THe place was empty at the beginning of the season that does not help the new owner at all.

P.S. Best rumor on the net:

Rumors on the net state Panthers front office sending Vokoun and defenseman Jordan Leopold (I think it would be Seidenberg instead of Leopold) for Chicago, in exchange for Blackhawks' goaltenders Cristobal Huet and Corey Crawford, plus winger Kris Versteeg.

Yormark is the Cancer at the head of the Panthers. Dump him, and Sexton, and get some guys in here that know and care about hockey.

Is it a coincidence that the two worst franchises in sports ( Panthers in the NHL and Nets in the NBA) are managed by Yormarks? Cohen is gone with his do nothing attitude (is he really or did he re-invent himself at Viner) and talk is getting to be very cheap by the new ownership. Same story, yadda, yadda, yadda for 10 years now. Sexton is a moron who wouldn't know an NHL player from Rudy Galindo and doing nothing now is the worst thing the team can do.

Watching prospects by video? It says it all about the management style of this team. Why pay for good scouts when you can watch a video?

I gave up my season tickets to the Panthers 3 years ago (thank God for Center Ice) and told Yormark to his face as long as he has something to do with the team I would not think of buying season tickets again. I think if more people refuse to go to the games (and it looks like that is happening) it'll hit them hard, in the wallet.

Fla Kittens, get your facts straight. The Amerks were bought by multi millionaire Curt Styres before last season. The Panthers did absolutely NOTHING to help that scenario. If the Panthers were not the only available parent team that season (besides Buffalo), things may have been quite different.

Taffe, Mink etc. are veterans who were brought in to HELP Panther prospects adapt to the pro game. It is a necessity because a team with only prospects will lose badly in this league. If Florida doesn't agree with that philosophy, they are out of here, Styres will make sure of that.

The main problem down here is the coach. No one likes him. He's JM's choice, so no wonder there.... Thus the play is not as good as it was in the beginning of the season. Does Florida care? Not one bit. During this Olympic break we have seen NO Panther brass and more importantly, NO Panther goalie coach. Salak is struggling but the Panthers don't give a hoot. Nice orgainization. Can't wait until they are gone.

BTW, the attendence has climbed and revenues have been strong, so we are OK. We just need a parent club without their head up their....

Yormack is a minority owner of the Panthers.GIve the new current owners a break, they are trying to clean house. Yormack will probably be gone over the summer once more cash can be found to finish buying him out. Things like that don't happen overnight when the Panthers are not making any money.

Yes, I do know that Mr. Styres, the kingpin of tobacco and wannabe amatuer racing owns the Amerks. He managed to save the team and work out a new lease agreement in the summer of 2008 because the city of rochester was not willing to renew the amerks contract with the arena because they owed lots of $$$$$ Styres was at the time hoping the Panthers would stay with the team when Buffalo walked. So yes, I have my facts straight.

The Panthers are probably not going to Rochester because they know that they are not renewing contracts with most of those guys. Defense is too small, the current Panther prospects minus a few (like Dadonov, Brine, and Repik) can't find the net if they had a map. Most of those Amerks will be gone after next season. Can you really blame the Panther brass for not coming up when most of those kids are going to be gone next season?

The comments to this entry are closed.