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Florida Panthers Celebrate Last Place with Confetti: Fireworks, Champagne Not Available ... Seen Stamkos Win Rocket Richard?

Finalice2010 Stephen Weiss has seen many final games come and go.

He never participated in one in which his team finished in last place in the Southeast Division.

He never partook in one in which confetti fell from the rafters of the Sunrise arena as the players were on the ice "celebrating" the end of what was a most disappointing season.


“Maybe that's a word I'll use off the air,'' Weiss said, his eyes fixed on the wall across the room.

“I don't know what to say. It got under my skin to see that. I've seen a lot here. I don't know where these things come from, who makes these decisions. It's certainly not the right way to do things. The jersey off your back is fine, that's good for the fans. But confetti and streamers?”

Usually losing the final two games of your season isn't a cause for celebration, but when it comes to the Panthers, any silver lining will do.

Florida's 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday ensured the team will have a top draft pick this summer, good news for a team that could use an infusion of talent.

Of course this wasn't the season the Panthers hoped for when the season opened with a rousing shootout win against the powerhouse Blackhawks in Helsinki, Finland. No one then could have guessed the Panthers would finish in last place in their division – the first time a Florida team had done so in its history.

The Panthers may not have hit rock bottom – the tradition rich Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs finished behind the Panthers. But if you are going to miss the playoffs anyway, you might as well nosedive like the Panthers.

Sometimes you need to be really bad to get better.

The Panthers, realistically out of the playoff race since the Olympic break in February, lost 12 of their final 20 games and scored three goals or fewer in its final 10 games.

“Obviously it's nothing to be proud of,'' said goalie Scott Clemmensen, who stopped 28 of 30 shots in Sunday's loss. “I don't think it was for lack of effort, but for whatever reason, we finished up short. There's room for improvement.''

Had the Panthers won Sunday, their hopes off securing one of the top junior players in the June draft would be remote. The Panthers would have ended with 79 points – ahead of Columbus, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Edmonton. Only teams in the bottom five have a chance at the top overall pick in Tuesday's draft lottery and the Panthers would have been fifth.

At third, the Panthers have a decent chance to jump up to No. 1. And Florida has history on its side as the franchise did win the lottery from the third slot twice before. Of course, the Panthers traded the pick away.

Believe it or not, but the players knew Sunday's third period was a no win situation. Florida came into the third down 2-1 and to win the game meant hurting the franchise in the long run.

“That's difficult because you want to play in meaningful games,'' said Weiss, who led the team in scoring this season but didn't score in the third despite a few chances.

“For me, I've played in a lot of these kind of games. And I've never seen confetti rain down on a team that finished in last place. Those are things that get under your skin a little bit. We need to change that next year, make sure we're inside the playoffs. It gets frustrating.''

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the game when Rostislav Olesz scored his first goal since getting two in Tampa Bay on Jan. 16. Olesz has struggled the past few months of the season, getting just three points off a goal and two assists in his final 30 games of the season. The Panthers expected much more out of Olesz this season as he did himself. Statistically, however, Olesz matched his career high with 14 goals.

“We lost and we wanted to win the game in front of our fans so it was disappointing,'' Olesz said after the game. “I'm not glad it's over, although it's been a challenge for me. I didn't play bad. I had a lot of scoring chances. I just couldn't score, couldn't put it it.''

The Lightning came back, with Alex Tanguay – who was hotly pursued by the Panthers during the offseason – scoring six minutes after Olesz did.

Just over two minutes later, Vinny Lecavalier scored to make it 2-1. And that's where the game stood until Steven Stamkos got his 51st goal of the season on an empty net Dmitry Kulikov and Weiss tried to save with 13 seconds left.

So maybe the confetti that fell onto the ice during the postgame ceremony was for Stamkos? His goal tied him for the league lead with Sidney Crosby and earned him a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy.

“It was just a disappointing year,'' said coach Pete DeBoer. “It's the toughest month – from the trade deadline – of my coaching career. But like I told the players: We made our bed, we have to lay in it. Just hope we never have to go through this again.''


Stamkos, who scored his 49th and 50th goals of the season on Saturday against the Panthers, became the third player from a Florida team to win the Rocket Richard Trophy after he tallied three goals against the Panthers within a 24 hour span.

Pavel Bure won it twice with the Panthers from 1999-2001 and Tampa Bay's Vinny Lecavalier won in 2006-07.

"I wouldn't have been playing like that under different circumstances,'' said Stamkos, who raced up ice with the puck after the Lightning won the faceoff. “This team just supported me so much and was looking for me. I appreciate that. They were trying to pass to me the whole game. I think it just shows the circumstances and shows the class guys we have on our team and the coaching staff."

-- Bryan McCabe was named the team's defensive player of the year. McCabe, the Panthers captain, was trying to win Sunday's game as he fired off a shot late that Mike Smith had trouble with. McCabe ended with eight goals and 35 assists.

-- Goalie Tomas Vokoun was named the team's star of the season after going 23-28-11. He missed the final three games of the season with a back strain suffered in last week's loss to Ottawa.

“It's sore but it's nothing really bad or anything,'' Vokoun said. “I've been through it here for the last while and we've had some tough times. You'd like to finish it off and be done with it. But it made no sense trying to push it.''

-- Weiss was named the team's MVP as voted on by fans.


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Confetti and streamers for finishing in last place? And the Panthers wonder why free agents don't want to come here and they are considered jokes of the NHL.

Sounds like Wiess wants out mabey?

This is why I support two teams.

I love the Panthers as my home team, but I have center ice for the last three seasons so I can watch the San Jose Sharks who are dynamic. Should the Panthers make the playoffs next year, I will be there cheering them on -- unless they meet the Sharks in the Stanley Cup Finals (which would never happen - for the Panthers at least!).

This is why the stands are normally packed for other teams!

Confetti? Really? I don't know if I have the words for that and I'm sure the obscenity filter would stop me from using 'em.

The good news is that the Panthers will pick no lower than fourth, probably will pick third, and a tiny chance of picking first. The offseason should be eventful, starting with the lottery on Tuesday. My Panthers jersey will be watching from the closet like always.

As long as we get a top 2 pick we should be in great shape

I actually heard plenty of booing. This is the season I want to forget.

Way to go Yormark!!!!, show your class again. Confetti after the game, the reason, Party City is a sponsor and the confetti was for the sponsor.

If that is not bad enough the shirts they were throwing into the stands, were for opening day 2008-09.

So now fan appreciation day has become a way to get storage space and to dispose of items they cannot use.

Way to go Yormark!!!, you are the head of this classless organization.

We to celebrate last place, it again shows that hockey is an afterthought, that everything is geared toward making money for the arena and that hockey is something to fill 41 days.

now for those of us that still care!

here is a quote from JM the GM's crony:

"We need more consistent scoring," Sexton told ESPN.com on Thursday. "[Stephen] Weiss could end up with 30 goals this year, [Nathan] Horton has scored 30 in the past and [David] Booth has scored 30, so we think all things being equal, those guys come back and give us a solid first line. But we need to add some scoring on our second line. We don't score goals easily."

Mr. Sexton, that should be your second line.

In case you didn't notice, since you are quoted as saying you only watch the panthers and not the other team when you are watching a game.

Tampa has a player Stamkos who scored more goals than Weiss and Horton combined.

Now a quote from a real GM who knows what it takes to build a winner:

We'll continue our transition into a younger team," Rutherford told ESPN.com on Thursday. "We have a lot of good young players, and we had planned on doing it this fall regardless of how this season ended up. We started the transition a little earlier than we expected halfway through the year, but in some ways, it's been good for us because we've gotten a look at some of the young players, and they've done real well."

They realized the long term need to look at their players, where were the panthers calling up guys that are not in the future plans, and when they called up guys with future plans they sat on the bench.

This classless organization needs to make changes now clean out the front office and lets get real hockey people in it.

Sexton kept Ottawa down while he was there and blew their draft, Yormark's latest classless move (having the logo in the urinal is still the worse) shows that he needs to go, we don't need a used car salesmen we need someone that will bring class to an organization and make it a cornerstone of the arena instead of a joke an afterthought.

Season Ticket holding since day one,

You got it right. With Sexton at the helm, the only thing that will change is a few parts to the team:

1) Panthers will try to get drop Oslez by waiving him down to AHL next season if he does not produce.

2) Panthers will pickup another defenseman with their top #3 pick (unless they win the lottery). Too many question marks with Connolley not to do this. Or they trade down for two first round draft picks. *** Although, the Panthers could still trade with Boston because Boston might be considering defense over offense. Panthers could give up Salak or Ellerby for #2 pick.

3)Frolik, Weiss, Booth, Kulikov, Ballard, Horton all stay.

4) Vokoun and McCabe are traded

This sounds like a team destined for not making the playoffs again. Fire Sexton and Co., more of the same means no playoffs again.

random thoughts:

Edmonton won't trade their pick. Maybe Boston will, but their price is likely very high. If the Panthers don't win the lottery, they should consider paying it anyway. They need NHL-ready offense, not another defensive prospect, and can't afford to let a first rounder develop slowly. Defense may win championships, but offense fills regular-season seats (see Bure, Pavel).

The good news is that the Cats have two very high 2nd round picks that they might be able to swap plus their first for Boston's. Or, swap them with a team that picks in the mid-first.

I can't wait for Olesz to be shown the door. The best thing the penny-pinching Panthers can do is trade him for someone else's highly paid disappointment and see if new ice improves them. There's no way another team would trade for him without trading away salary (probably could have got something from the Leafs back on deadline day but that's gone now).

Lebrun at ESPN is convinced Vokie's a goner. Where does he end up, and more importantly what does he bring back? I was hoping Philly would face Washington in the playoffs; they'd be much more likely to overpay for a goalie like Vokoun after that :). They'll probably just pick up one of Montreal's spares anyway. Maybe San Jose would overpay for Vokie if they flame out in the playoffs again.

Meh. I'm sure the Panthers news will be getting thinner and thinner after Tuesday night's lottery. Another long summer for the fans.

I think we're overhyping the DRAFT, as it's only one tool and not a GUARANTEE... For starters, chances are it sounds like it's a 2-horse race and chances are we're picking 3rd.. Then there's no absolute guarantee that Hall and Seguin will be Stamkos, let alone Crosby or Ovechkin... Yes there's hope there, but not realistic... Some top picks don't pan out, some take longer than others, so we're only fooling ourselves if we think ONE PICK or ONE PLAYER will turn this around...

They should've rid themselves of T-VO and his contract at the beginning of the year, saved the $$$, and tanked like Edmonton..

They should've cleaned house of as many dead-weight contracts, cut their losses with more buy-outs, and brought in as many young gritty, talented players as possible... If they don't work, you change the parts... Eventually some of them develop like Colorado's guys, and you're not as far off as they are now...

Now they're basically just starting they're house-cleaning from scratch, so I think fans need to be prepared for an Edmonton-like season before this ship can be put back on course... Add to that there's not enough interest out there in their CORE-type players(Horton, Weiss,etc), so you're stuck with those guys....

Since your CORE guys aren't legit 1st-line players, the only hope you have is to build a DEPTH team like Buffalo... This way you don't spend like crazy, and it's not as big of a hit when you spend all your $$$ on a guy like Bure, and there's no hope when that guy goes down with injury...

Let's hope the Panthers right the ship in the right direction this time. Bolts just fired everyone. Panthers should join in the fun and fire Sexton and Co.

slapshot1106 is correct, one player will not turn this thing around.

Yes the bolts fired everyone, they aren't waiting or telling the fans that everyone will be accountable.

The owners have shown so far that they are all talk and no action.

look at the 4 teams who didn't make the playoffs in the se. THRASHERS, CANES, BOLTS AND PANTHERS. What do they all have in common?

C'mon Cliff and Stu! Follow Tampa's lead! They WILL be a force next year. Things are definitely brighter on the west coast of the peninsula.

Hmmmmmmmmm---T-Vo to Tampa?????

If they don't secure one of the first two picks, and can't package picks and/or players to move up into the 1st two picks, then they need to consider trading the pick for proven players if possible, IMO. I agree with JimH, drafting and waiting to develop another defenseman makes no sense at this point, unless you can work a trade including a Ellerby, or Garrison(not both, and, in my opinion, Kulikov is off limits) as a package to get you a 1st line center. I think I've made opinion quite clear about the fact that The Cats NEED a "face" of the franchise at forward. I think Seguin could be that guy, and while Weiss, Booth, and Horton are good players, I don't see tham as being consistent enough to, not only be a 1st scoring line(as long as Sexton has his mind made up that they are, this franchise will go nowhere), but I also don't see any of them being "dynamic" enough to scare an opposing defense, period. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, until this franchise gets itsel a legit 1st line...and most importantly a 1st line pivot...it'll just be more of the same bottom-of-the-barrel crap.

Let's be honest and REALISTIC here--nobody is willing to give up good players or upgrades for most of our guys... What will you get for Ellerby and/or Garrison? I've been hearing these names for quite some time now, and I'll I've ever really seen is that they are more over-hyped talent... a la Noah Welch,etc...

That seems to be what we're best at doing around here, over-hyping talent to sell a few more seats.... From Robby Niedermayer through the last decade.... Panthers can only hope that after all these empty promises, they should be due for one of them to hit one of these days....

So the only thing we probably learned from this year's trade line was that nobody else wants our crap.... Better off buying out contracts, using waivers, and taking whatever you can get from our scraps....

Instead of asking for Jeff Carter for T-Vo, they should've asked for Claude Giroux and a pick.... Get rid of the salary and REBUILD!!

Dropping confetti and streamers when you end up in last place in your division and third last over-all, can't wait to see what they do when they win, drop gold coins and naked ladies.

If Panthers happened to get first overall they should pick Hall, he is a goal scorer and this team has had trouble scoring for years. Seguin is more of a set-up man. I would take him second and Connolly third. If they pick 4th or lower I wait and see if a defenseman goes and Connolly drops down in the draft. Once Connolly goes I would switch picks to draft a forward. Maybe trade Keaton Ellerby for a pick if you want to draft one of the top D men, they will be better than he is when training camp starts.

teams a joke, organization is a joke. I guess its fitting to see them celebrate a decade of no playoffs hahahahhahahahaahhaa

They were basically celebrating Stamkos by having that sendoff. Riduculous. Was that Yormack's idea?

Here's another way of looking at the orgnanization...Are the Panthers really serious about playoffs when they hire a junior coach and a temp GM? Are they really serious?

In any other organization, they would be looking for a GM with a track record of winning and rebuilding teams. Sexton is not the guy.

If the Panthers thought coaching was the problem and that the talent there was not living up to their potential, why do they hire a junior coach who has never been in the NHL?
Why? What can a junior coach teach to guys who have been in the NHL for several years?

Why did the Panthers do these things? Because this organization is not serious about winning, only about losing. They are only concerned about NOT MAKING THE PLAYOFFS.

The organization is a joke, fans should not buy tickets. Don't stand for this mediocre organization. Hit the owners where it hurts their pocketbook until they hire real NHL coaches and GMs. Don't forget to clean up the front office too - Yormack has to go. Fire whoever decided to throw confetti on the ice to celebrate another year of losing. The organization is a joke, and the owners are a joke if they don't fix it now.

Frellin' confetti...what a joke. Yesterday is the last they will see me as a STH. So long to all my friends. I'll be back when Yormark and Sexton are gone!

We complained for years about the lack of stability here now people are calling for DB's head? I just can't blame him - last year we should have made the playoffs and our team was maybe slightly more talented than this year's. Sexton goes out and gets Reinprecht to be the #2 center and that's the answer? I blame the head, not the tail. DB has done a pretty good job considering he's got three 4th lines, if that b/c some of these guys shouldn't be in the NHL, and one 2nd line. Our defense did improve after a shaky start, then we traded Seids who IMO was our defensive MVP, and Leo, who was a solid vet. That left us with Kulikov & Garrison playing minutes beyond their rookie status. Although you have to be impressed with what those 2 showed.

I don't care if Sexton is fired, but if the owners don't pony up for some star power in FA or via trades, then they are as phony as Cohen was during his tenure. I don't care about urinals having ads anymore. I'll gladly pee on Bob's Urology & Associates if it means a top tier FA is signed, ala Cammellari last year. But we'll probably just end up bringing back Jokinen for his 2nd tour of duty and call that our #1 center signing. Last year was a BIG year and we did squat. NY got Gaborik, Chicago got Hossa, etc., and we got Reinprecht. There's your organization in a nutshell. We can only lure guys on their retirement contracts, like Stillman, and you do need some of those guys...just not on the 1st or 2nd line!

This draft and FA period, I've said before, will ultimately determine whether Sexton is retained. If he can't make a serious impact then get someone with the moxie to lead this organization in the new NHL (not another Keenan/MArtin-type re-tread, please).

It was embarrassing for confetti to be coming down after the game. I have been at all of the season ending games since the lockout and I was completely taken off guard when I saw that.

While some are willing to let it go, I can't. An organization that cares about winning and cares about it's fans doesn't do this. It's not about making this a party for the "little" ones. They come becasue the parents like me pay the money to go. You can't try and build your attendance around the kids. They can't afford the tickets. You have to want the adults to come back, and they are dropping like flies.

My daughter was only a baby when the Panthers made their Cup run in '96. She'll be ready for college pretty soon and it sure would be nice for her to experience a playoff run before she's off to college.

I've seen it and lived it, and those of you that have know what it's like.

Until ownership gets serious, it's not going to happen. Tampa starts with the housecleaning today. Their owner says and I quote: "Our hockey operations dept. needs a fresh start to help us fulfill our goal of being a world class organization" Tampa owner Jeff Vinick.

How's that for getting serious?

how can you guys complain after all we got
JET BLUE as a pillar partner. A PILLAR PARTNER!!! and they added a giant tailfin and another sponser was able to add graphics. NOW THATS A TEAM!!! now if we can only draft a player with "BLUE" in his name.....

The owners are handcuffing themselves permanently if they believe Sexton can win it. I would not let him near the draft. This is their chance to fix the organization before it goes by the wayside.

What is there to think about with this decision? You have a junior coach who is suppose to mold a star NHL player (top 3 pick)? They have Horton skating slowly back to the bench on a penalty kill because he is upset? The coaches don't have control of their players... Imagine what happens when they get some top draft pick with attitude into the room. Can Deboer handle it? I don't think so.

Clean sweep of the front office and coaching staff would be a good start to a new Panther Franchise with new owners...

We will win the lottery tomorrow night. We will trade that pick for a second line forward and a later pick. We wont trade Vokoun and end up "keeping him for a playoff run" and then fall short once again. Its not Petes fault he was hired and all of that stuff. Our whole staff as an organization sucks. We have never had a good GM and how can you rebuild with guys like Sexton maning it?

Anybody going to get mad if I say "fire Yormark" now?

I agree with Colton. Sexton's conservative approach has already been shown by him not talking to Vokoun.

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