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The Panthers Are Not Better After Today. They Are a Little Worse, but...

Pantherlogo The NHL trade deadline has come and gone.

The Panthers gave away Jordan Leopold, Dominic Moore and Dennis Seidenberg for three second round picks, Byron Bitz and a minor league player.

This is not what people were expecting when the team's management came out with their much-ballyhooed letter saying that minor changes were not good enough and the team needed to go in a different direction.

This isn't the direction people were expecting.

No "small changes or quick fixes will do" the letter stated.

So what have the Panthers done since then, save for some small changes?

The Panthers all but told people their store was open for business. Come in and get what you want. No one did save for a desperate Boston team trying to stay within the top eight in the east.

"We could have had a fire sale if we wanted,'' GM Randy Sexton said this afternoon.

Co-managing partners Cliff Viner and Stu Siegel both said Wednesday night that they are not happy where the team is right now, but didn't want to just make deals to make deals. "We want to do things the right way,'' Viner said.

It could be that the other 29 teams didn't want what the Panthers had to offer at the money they were signed to. That's not really all that hard to believe. But you have to think something could have happened. Something should have happened today. Instead, Sexton said he was close on one deal -- and it doesn't sound by his description that it was a major one.

The Panthers were expected to be players at the deadline and they were not. The Panthers basically said they were going to blow things up -- and with losses in eight of nine and in seven straight -- no one would blame them for doing just that.

Sexton said that they don't want to blow things up. He likes a lot of the players here. He only wants to get rid of a few. I doubt the three he did get rid of -- sending all three into the thick of the playoff chase -- were the players he wanted to get rid of.

Coach Pete DeBoer said just that. He said the three players "were what we want Florida Panthers players to be'' and that they were moved because of their contracts and because teams wanted them.

Give Sexton credit for turning those three pending free agents into three second round picks. But those picks will not help this team today, will not help them next September and may never help the team. This isn't the NFL. This is more like baseball. The NHL draft is a crap shoot even in the first round.

The Panthers are going to tell us they are not done and not to judge them on today alone. The draft is coming, they'll say. We're committed to building a winner and will make trades then.

But will they? Can they? This team is filled with bloated contracts that no other teams want to take on.

Tomas Vokoun will bring you something in the summer. Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss too. And if David Booth, Dmitry Kulikov, Michael Frolik and Keith Ballard are off the table, the Vokoun-Horton-Weiss trifecta are basically all the Panthers have worth anything. Unless teams want some draft picks.

After today, the letter Stu Siegel and Cliff Viner sent out looks worse than it did when they sent it out. Privately, players within the locker room said that letter was going to come back and bite them if deals were not made. Deals were not made.

The Panthers are in desperate need of change, major change. Their co-managing partners have said as much. Their general manager has said as much.

Today was a disappointing day for the Panthers. Lets hope their management says as much. Sexton did not.

Of course, if things continue to go as they have been, the Panthers will likely have a top three draft pick coming up and a chance for the top overall pick in Los Angeles. That might work out alright.

-- OnFrozenFilm presents Sexton's media briefing online. Also trying to get Seigel and Viner. Will also be talking to Pete DeBoer around 6. So stay tuned!

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