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Mike Santos: No Contract Extensions Before Deadline ... Good Day, Rochester ... Bryan McCabe, Cory Stillman Practicing ... Dmitry Kulikov Status Unknown

Good afternoon hockey fans.

Was at practice today for the first time this week and got some pretty good stuff.

First off, I was under the impression that the Panthers might want to sign a couple of their unrestricted free agents to a contract extension before the trade deadline later this month.

Well, nix that.

Assistant general manager Mike Santos told me today that the team will not be talking contracts to any of their pending free agents until after the season.

That means no extension for the likes of Tomas Vokoun or Bryan McCabe. At least not now.

I have said in the past that if the Panthers and Vokoun don't get a deal done before the deadline, Vokoun would be traded. Now, I guess, I'm not so sure about that. First, Vokoun can turn down any deal. Second, the Panthers seem to be in no rush to do anything. They are pretty confident the players they want to stick around will stick around.

It's a dangerous game – if the Panthers decide to keep some of these free agents at the deadline. In that case, they once again risk losing players for nothing.

I still see quite a few trades in the Panthers near future.

-- Last night at the town hall meetings, Santos talked about Rochester and how that franchise has been “bad” for the Florida Panthers.

It has been floated in Rochester that the Amerks and Panthers affiliation could be rekindled, but I definitely don't see that happening anymore.

This divorce is going to be final soon.

Santos said he doesn't see the Panthers returning next year, and said the worst case scenario for the Panthers – if there are no open AHL spots save for Rochester – was that the team would go back to splitting an affiliation with another team.

If that does happen -- which the Panthers really, really don't want to happen -- my money is on Florida joining up with Nashville.

Just a hunch.

-- Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov went for an MRI today although the Panthers don't think he has a broken ankle after being smacked by a puck last night. Coach Pete DeBoer thinks, as long as nothing is broken, that Kulikov could play Sunday against the Sharks.

Word out of Rochester is that no player has been told he's coming up yet. Joe Callahan and Clay Wilson would be your natural candidates to replace Kulikov if need be.

-- Cory Stillman was in a cheerful mood today and after working out at the optional skate said he felt “good” and would probably play Sunday.

-- McCabe also worked out and said he should be ready to go in a week. Not sure if McCabe will take part in Saturday's 10 a.m. practice in Coral Springs, but he probably will.

-- Last time I spoke with Byron Bitz -- about two weeks ago -- he said he hoped his latest trip to a specialist would allow him to get back on the ice. Apparently not. Bitz, who had sports hernia surgery, is still not skating.

Bitz was acquired by the Panthers at the deadline last year and played in seven games before getting hurt. Then he suffered the sports hernia during training camp.

-- Will have more after I go through the tape. Writing on McCabe's impact on the Panthers is bigger than anyone had previously thought.

He wants to stay with the team – and they think hard about making that happen.


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Really hope Bitz doesn't have Bertuzzi Syndrome.

By any chance was it asked how Rochester has been bad? Forgive a franchise with real history wanting a winning team which Florida has failed at.

I too would like a follow-up on how/why Rochester has been bad for Florida. Santos' only been with the organization for 8 months so is it just the 8 months or hearsay about the previous 24? Is it communication? Is it the city? Is it the travel? Is it the fans? Is it local ownership?

What exactly?

Eric, I would go with management. The Panthers were completely caught off guard when the team held their big announcement and were furious about it. They obviously haven't forgotten. I wish they could work it out. I think Rochester is a great hockey market and the travel is fine. It doesn't look like that's happening though.

It's ironic that Santos says Rochester isn't good for the Panthers when he and Tallon are the SOLE architects of this wonderful last place team here.

Way to build a powerhouse here, you guys!!

And the genius Santos says that the Panthers are obviously buyers at the trade deadline because they acquired three players from the Blackhawks and gave up only two. Santos fits in perfectly with the Panthers organization. He only lies when his lips are moving. Maybe he should be sitting on Yormark's knee as a ventriloquist dummy!!

GR can you refresh our memories what "the big anouncement" was?

“When we negotiated this agreement with Florida, it was agreed we would put a ‘re-negotiation date’ in it to ensure that both organizations had time to either investigate extending the terms of the agreement or provided sufficient time to explore other options,” said Rochester team president Lewis Staats.

“November 1, 2010 was the agreed upon date, and as of today, Rochester has informed Dale Tallon, general manager of the Florida Panthers, that we would not be renewing/extending the existing affiliation with Florida.


george do think they will/should trade mccabe?
i sure hope he leaves with stillman and dvorak all have been here way to long and nothing has happend with them!! i cant believe they are the leadership gang here , look at others teams leadership there ages go from 25-30.
chicago toews is there captain hes like 23.

I can see why your hunch would be Nashville George, but would think the travel from Milwaukee would be more challenging for game-day call ups for here and on the road.

Byron Bitz has been missing so long I thought he was on the witness protection plan. I am begining to think we have another Chad Kilger on our hands.

Isn't Santorelli a free agent, or is he restricted? That's one guy I'd want to make sure stays put.

I don't understand what's wrong with that quote from Rochester. They told Florida they don't like the existing contract and won't renew the current one. I don't blame them, they have no control over the roster or coaches and Florida has provided them with the worst 3 years in franchise history. How could they be caught off guard? Are they supposed to be happy they just supplied body's?

I'm looking forward to reading up on your chat with McCabe. Looking at our record without him in the line up its obvious he plays a big role in firing up the team. I think its a very positive thing to hear guys want to stay and believe in what Tallon has planned for the future. Same with hearing Weiss say he wants to stay and then playing how many games with 'unnamed' injury.

first off coop your a joke! mccabe is terrible and we need to send him on his way! the results would be the same if he is in the line up, you will see! i hope tallon cleans house with are UFAs! and the only reason mccabe wants to stay there is his family likes the weather and so does he and he wants to retire there just like every other old canadian get rid of this guy! he does not deserve to be a captain on a rebuilding young team!

yay tallon grabner would be leading goal scorer on are team ! good move cant way see you other retarded moves we should trade booth for mark recchi ! sounds about right

A dual affiliation will further setback the development of FLA's prospects. That's a bad move for the Panthers. As an Amerk fan I'm thrilled with the affiliation ending. The Amerks haven't been good in 3 yrs with this setup, it's time for a change, IMO.

the Nashville quote is because that is where Santos came from

we need to clean house, what we have hasn't worked in 10 years

If Fisher is worth a one and a conditional what is Weiss/Booth worth?

Weiss is the only guy on the current roster that should be considered a lock to keep. In no way, shape, or form, should the Panthers have had hopes of contending for a playoff spot this season or next. What they should have iced is an entertaining team of NHL vets looking for jobs in the NHL and the possibility of a deadline day trade to a contender, if they produced. All this while reshaping the organizational depth charts with actual talent. By saying they believe they have a roster capable of contending for the playoffs, they are blatantly lying and disrespecting the fanbase, as has been done for the past decade. Its time for the organization to be honest, come out and say "We are goin to right the wrongs of the last 10+ years. We know you love the sport. We know you love cheering for the hometown team. Please stick with us, while we try to bring you the team we deserve. You've treated us with the respect we're going to treat you with from here on out, and do everything we can while tryin to rebuild this organization sensibly." Problem is, this organization has lied so much, I doubt anyone would believe them, even if the team purposely tanked it for two years running.

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