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58 posts from October 2011

October 10, 2011

Good Evening America! Florida Panthers v Pittsburgh Penguins on National TV on Tuesday

Hockeyontv The Panthers have a rare date on national television on Tuesday as Versus will broadcast the Penguins' home opener.

Florida was left off the Versus schedule last season. 

Even though the spotlight is on the Penguins, the Panthers got a rare national shout out as promos for Tuesday's game ran on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

NBC now owns Versus -- or Versus now owns NBC, whatever -- and will re-brand the network (NBC Sports Channel) in January. 

“It's a great opportunity and every professional athlete wants that certain measure of respect,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.

“We have to earn the national television games. We were 28th in the league last year, haven't been to the playoffs in some time. That's part of our history. But it's nice to play a game on the national stage. The guys will be up for that, for sure.''

Dineen doesn't have to do much motivating for the opening few games as the Panthers partake in four different home openers – including their own on Saturday.

Against the Islanders, fans started tailgating 10 hours before the game started. By the time the team walked from their hotel to the Nassau Coliseum, the parking lot was filled with fans tossing footballs, grilling – and talking a little trash to the guys in the suits and ties.

“I didn't know if I was going to be handed a kielbasa or punched in the face,'' Dineen joked. “That was a great atmosphere to start the game. The nice thing was being able to suck the life out of the place by our play. You really like that feeling.''

-- Dineen said he didn't expect any changes to the Panthers lineup on Tuesday, meaning rookie Erik Gudbranson remains in and Keaton Ellerby and Evgeny Dadonov will sit.


Where, When: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh; 7:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Versus/WQAM-560

Series: Penguins lead 35-30-4

The game: The Panthers opened with a 2-0 victory over the host Islanders and are looking for their first 2-0 start since 2005. Pittsburgh, which is expected  to be without star Sidney Crosby (concussion), is 2-0-1 after a western Canadian trip to start the season. The Penguins won all four against Florida last season (the Panthers got one of the possible eight points) and have won seven of the past eight in the series.

October 09, 2011

Happy 13th Birthday to The Billboard! Florida Panthers Arena Officially Opens on Oct. 9, 1998

13th It's a day of celebration in Sunrise today as the BankAtlantic Center -- also known as the National Car Rental Center, the Office Depot Center, the Billboard and an outlet for fine appliances at a sacrifice price -- celebrates its 13th birthday.

On Oct. 9, 1998, the Panthers beat Tampa Bay 4-1 in the old NCRC.

The parade on the Sawgrass Mills Mall access road is rumored to start around 3 p.m. The Piper High marching band is the lead act.

Of course, some celebrated the arena's birthday on Oct. 3. On that day in 1998, Celine Dion put on a concert in the new arena. But us hockey purists don't celebrate that holiday.

Maybe they could hang a banner from the rafters to honor the occassion. You know, nothing says 'hockey arena' like a Celine Dion banner.

BACscoreboard -- All joking aside, the arena has definitely recieved a face lift this summer as the Panthers replaced all the drab green seats with red ones in the lower bowl and splashed red paint throughout the building.

A second LED ribbon has been installed along the 400 level facade and I've been told a third ring has been hung above the old -- but repainted -- scoreboard.

Here is a photo sent to me looking ahead at the future look of the arena with the new scoreboard.

We'll see. I've been hearing the new scoreboard is "on its way" for a few years now.

Anyway, Happy Birthday! See you at the parade!

Jose Theodore Pitches Shutout in Florida Panthers Debut ... More News, Notes

TheodoreNYI About to watch some football with family here on a gorgeous day in Columbus, Ohio.

So, before the games get going -- and I'm unfortunately stuck watching the Bengals although spared a Dolphins Sunday thanks to the bye week -- here is some stuff for you Panthers fans still fired up over Saturday's season opening victory. 

(Photo courtesy Bruce Bennett, Getty Images)

NEW YORK – Jose Theodore surrendered seven goals in the Panthers final exhibition game of the preseason in Dallas, eight days before Florida's season opener.

Any concern there?

“That's why they call it the preseason,'' defenseman Mike Weaver joked.

Actually, the Panthers were a little worried about how Theodore would open up Saturday against the host Islanders.

After the loss in Dallas, coach Kevin Dineen said that even though Theodore had a rough couple of outings, he was sure once the season started that the veteran netminder would come to play.

Indeed he did. Bolstered by an improved defense, Theodore kicked back 27 shots as the Panthers beat the Islanders 2-0. The shutout was No. 31 for Theodore. 

“Things didn't go as planned during training camp,'' Dineen said, “but he's a professional. He has played in Montreal where everything is magnified to such a high level. He's patient.''

The Panthers have a new look to their defense with last year's opening night starters Bryan McCabe and Dennis Wideman replaced by Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski.

Florida's defense was smothering early on, with Theodore not having to do much work for long stretches. But there were times when the Islanders put pressure on Theodore. He came up strong. 

Theodore now has six shutouts against the Islanders, more than any other team he's faced.

“I didn't know that. Maybe it's the building, it's a fun building for me to play in,'' Theodore said. “Everyone was pumped up for the first game of the season. I said I wanted to challenge the shots and the [defense] was great at clearing the rebounds. We worked well as a unit, me and the D. Playing the puck behind the net was good, they were letting me see the puck. We were all on the same page.''

-- Dineen is the 11th coach in Panthers history and the sixth to take over the team for a start of a season.

Of those six, only Dineen, Terry Murray and Jacques Martin won their Florida coaching debuts.

“I'm more focused on my family, my dad and family back home,'' Dineen said. “It's exciting for a family. There was a lot of transition [going from player to coach] in this hockey business. They enjoy the wins as much as I do. On a personal level, it's nice [to win] but it's nice to share it at home and here with this group.''

Even though the Panthers have gone through 10 coaches in franchise history, things have been stable the past few seasons. Martin took over and coached the team for three seasons before being fired (but retained as general manager) in 2008.

Pete DeBoer held the job from 2008 until being fired a day after Florida's season finale in April. 

“I have tremendous respect for Peter DeBoer,'' Dineen said. “Every coach does things a little differently. At the end of the day, we have a different look, have different personnel.''

-- Rookie Erik Gudbranson made his NHL debut on Saturday, starting the game with Jovanovski and playing 10:59 off 20 shifts.

Even though Gudbranson had the lowest ice time of any defensemen, assistant coach Gord Murphy was happy with his performance. 

“You try to put him in position to have success,'' Murphy said. “That contributed . He didn't show any kind of first game jitters that you would expect. He was in control. That was an excellent first game. [Jovanovski] did a great job with him out there.''


October 08, 2011

Florida Panthers 2, New York Islanders 0 ... Cats Get Goals from Weiss, Garrison ... 27 Saves for Theodore


UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Saturday marked the 16th anniversary of one of the most storied moments in Panthers history. On Oct. 8, 1995, Scott Mellanby scored a pair of goals in an opening night win against the Flames at Miami Arena. He also one-timed a rodent into a wall.

And so the 'Rat Trick' was born, a starting point for the young franchise's magical season.

The Panthers are much older now, the rubber rat throwing craze of the 1996 playoffs a fading memory to those old enough to even remember it. But after how the Panthers dominated the Islanders in a 2-0 victory in the season opener Saturday, one wouldn't be surprised to find out one of the furry inhabitants of the Nassau Coliseum ended up on the business end of a hockey stick this night as well.

“It was a good team win,'' said defenseman Ed Jovanovski, a rookie on the 1995-96 team. “It was real good.''

The new -- and they hope drastically improved – Panthers closed out a strong first period with goals from Stephen Weiss and Jason Garrison to grab a two lead.

That was all new goalie Jose Theodore needed.

The Panthers, with 14 different players in the 20-man lineup from last year's opener, clicked on all levels. Florida's defense was strong, keeping the Islanders from driving inside for much of the night and allowing Theodore to take it easy for long stretches. When Theodore was challenged, the 35-year-old who looked shaky during the preseason was solid.

Florida's new offensive scheme, which allows for more creativity as opposed to keeping/dumping the puck in the offensive zone, looked crisp. The Panthers kept pressure on goalie Max Montoya for much of the night.

“We have a new feel, a new season and a new look,'' said coach Kevin Dineen, a winner in his NHL coaching debut. “You have transition and you want a good feel coming in. The outcome of the game is important, but I liked the way these guys played. There was a real commitment throughout the lineup. Everyone had to participate.''

After a feeling out process in the first half of the opening period, the Panthers got down to business later in the period as the game grew chippy.

Florida took a 1-0 lead when Campbell rifled off a hard shot that hit Montoya and slipped behind him. Weiss charged in and popped the still puck into the empty net.

David Booth drew a pair of penalties on Mike Mottau in the period, the second of which helped the Panthers get the second goal. With Mottau in the box, Kopecky was driven into the Islanders net, Montoya landing on top of the Florida center.

After a few moments of no movement, a few Islanders tried forcibly removing Kopecky. Upshall didn't take kindly to that and fought Travis Hamonic.

The Islanders defenseman was charged for fighting and roughing, giving Florida a 5-on-3 opportunity.
Even though Upshall was kicked out of the game after being given a game misconduct for not strapping down his jersey – which flew off during the fight although he said it ripped off the hook – the Panthers came out on the better end of the deal.

With two extra attackers, defenseman Jason Garrison ripped off a shot from 30 feet out, the puck striking the top of the net as Booth served as blocker.

Garrison's shot gave Florida a 2-0 lead and a power play goal in the second opportunity of the season. It took the Panthers four games to get such a goal last season as Florida's power play was historically bad.

Not only was the Panthers 13.1 percent success rate last in the league, the 35 goals were a franchise low for a full season.

“We had a good couple weeks of practice and were all on the same page,'' Theodore said.

-- The shutout was Theodore's 31st of his career. Theodore has shutout the Islanders six times, more than any other opponent. He has blanked Pittsburgh and Carolina four times apiece.

-- The Panthers are now 8-7-3 in season-openers – but won for just the third time in 11 tries when opening outside South Florida. Florida, 4-3 in openers in the post-lockout era, tries for its first 2-0 start since 2005 when they visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Florida Panthers Opening Night Notebook: Kevin Dineen Wants Hot Start (Who Doesn't?); Cats Slow Starters; Debut Time for Gudbranson and 10 Others


UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Kevin Dineen knows he's not the only coach in the NHL who wants his team to get off to a strong start.

Over the past few seasons, however, the Panthers have done anything but.

“If you read the articles, everyone around the league is talking about getting off to a good start,'' Dineen said prior to Saturday's opener against the host Islanders. 

“We feel it's important and we like being on the road. We spent a lot of time at home during training camp. Now we get to spend some time together and get to know each other. All the focus is on the games. It's a good place to be.''

The Panthers haven't had a winning October since going 6-5-1 in 2005-06. The past three seasons, Florida has gone 12-19-2 in the opening month and are 28-38-5 in October – not counting Saturday's game – in the post-lockout era.

With a first year coach and a glut of new players, the Panthers could be looking at a rocky beginning.

On Saturday, rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson made his NHL debut on Saturday, paired up with veteran Ed Jovanovski. Including Gudbranson, 11 players made their Panthers debut on Saturday, including Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg, Scottie Upshall, Jose Theodore and Brian Campbell.

Jovanovski represented the Panthers in a regular season game for the first time since the Panthers beat the Islanders 1-0 on January 16, 1999 in Sunrise. Jovanovski, who played for the Panthers from 1995-99, was traded to Vancouver the following day in the Pavel Bure deal.

-- With the Panthers carrying an extra forward and defenseman, someone has to sit. On Saturday, it was Keaton Ellerby and Evgeny Dadonov. Florida opened with a top line of Stephen Weiss centering Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg.

-- The Panthers were expected to square off against Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro although Islanders coach Jack Capuano – an old pal of Dineen's from their AHL days – Started Al Montoya instead.

Along with DiPietro and Montoya, the Islanders also have former Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov in the fold.

"I have seen Montoya in Hartford and have seen what he did here last year,'' Dineen said. “He's a quality goalie. [The Islanders] have some pretty good options in net.''

-- Saturday marked the first of four straight games in which the Panthers will partake in a home opener. Florida will be the visitor for Pittsburgh's second home opener at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday before hosting Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Next week's game at Tampa will be the Lightning's debut at its renovated arena.




Florida Panthers: Kevin Dineen, Erik Gudbranson Make NHL 'Debut' Tonight vs. Islanders


UNIONDALE, N.Y. – It will be natural if Kevin Dineen feels a little nervous before his game on Saturday night.

When the puck drops just after 8 p.m., Dineen officially coaches in his first NHL game. And even though he spent 19 seasons as an NHL player and six more coaching in the minors, there's something special about being behind the bench in the big leagues.

One thing Dineen doesn't have to worry about is getting around the Islanders' arena. In those seasons playing with Hartford, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Carolina, Dineen came to this arena at least twice a year. And it doesn't look much different.

“It has not changed. It's awesome,'' Dineen said after Friday's afternoon practice on Long Island. “It was a great feeling walking across the mall. They're going to have a good opening night here. We're ready.''

When the Panthers hired Dineen to replace Pete DeBoer in May, the Panthers didn't have much as far as players went. The roster had been depleted to the point where Dineen had to take the word of general manager Dale Tallon and alternate governor Bill Torrey that the Panthers were going to make a drastic overhaul.

So when Dineen coaches the Panthers on Saturday, it's a completely different looking team that it was on opening night 2010 in Edmonton. The Panthers have new forwards, new defensemen, new coaches and new goalies.

“Obviously we're all a little bit nervous,'' defenseman Brian Campbell said. “You want to get off to a good start as a player and as a team. It's time to get out there, lay it out there and see what happens.''

Tallon and Torrey both said they were quickly convinced that Dineen was the man they wanted to hire, deciding on it after just one meeting. Dineen was a leader as a player, evidenced by three different teams making him their captain at one time or another.

Dineen played the game hard, hustled for the puck and could end up in the Hall of Fame some day. Dineen ended up playing in 1,188 games, scoring 355 goals with 405 assists.

One thing a number of Panthers veterans have mentioned as being impressed with is the trust that's already been built between Dineen and themselves. Following Thursday's practice in Coral Springs, Dineen gathered a group of eight players together on the ice and spent 10 minutes getting their thoughts on the upcoming road trip.

Little things like that go a long way.

“He's done things right. It's one of the best training camps I've ever been a part of,'' said defenseman Mike Weaver, starting his second season in Florida. “We're ready for the season. He handles himself well, he's in the locker room and the respect is there. You don't have a lot of coaches who wants feedback. He does. We're taking the next step as a team, as an organization.''


Dineen decided against naming a team captain just yet as he announced that Campbell, Stephen Weiss, Ed Jovanovski and Tomas Kopecky would be Florida's alternate captains for the time being. The Panthers can only have three alternates per game, so everyone but Kopecky will wear the 'A' on Saturday.

There is no timetable for when the Panthers would name a captain. The Panthers went without a captain in DeBoer's first season with Bryan McCabe serving that position from the 2009-10 season until he was traded to the Rangers last February. Whomever is named will become the seventh captain in franchise history.

“I think we have players who are qualified to be leaders on this team,'' Dineen said. “You don't want to just make a decision to make a decision. I have a feeling this group will be together for a long time. I want to see how we react in the face of success and on the other side when you face adversity. We've spent a few weeks together. I want to take our time on this decision.''


Defenseman Erik Gudbranson is expected to make his NHL debut on Saturday with Keaton Ellerby likely the odd d-man out. Florida is carrying seven defensemen right now, and although Dineen said he may dress seven in a game, he's not expected to on Saturday.

Gudbranson was expected to make his debut last season but couldn't come to a contract agreement with the team. He said his family was not making the trip to Long Island but would all be in attendance for Florida's home opener next weekend against the Lightning.

“I am very excited and very fortunate to be here,'' said Gudbranson, the third overall pick in 2010.

“It's exciting for myself and it's great to share this with my parents. No one knows how many hours they spent driving us to rinks and going to games as we grew up. For me to be able to fly them in to see me play in the big leagues is fun for them and great for myself.''


Live from New York, it's Opening Night! Florida Panthers at New York Islanders


Where, When: Nassau Veterans Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.; 8 p.m.

TV/Radio: FSN/560-WQAM

Series: Panthers lead 36-30-5

The game: This is the season opener for each team, with the Islanders sending out goalie Al Montoya against Florida's Jose Theodore.

The Islanders won the final two games of the four-game series against Florida last year as the Panthers were in free-fall mode.

Florida snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 2-1 win against Washington in its season finale. Since losing to the host Islanders on Feb. 21, Florida has lost 19 of its past 24 games.















October 06, 2011

Kris Versteeg: The Florida Panthers 'X' Factor? ... Panthers Fly to Long Island on Friday ... Jose Theodore to Start v Isles

Versteeg The Panthers held a charity auction Tuesday night in Fort Lauderdale. One fan had bid $1,600 to have lunch and a bowling date with one of the newest members of the team.

Standing on stage with his red tie undone and the top button of his dress shirt unhooked, Kris Versteeg finally agreed to serenade the crowd in song if the bid reached $3,000.

Auctioneer/television voice Steve Goldstein got the money to benefit pediatric cancer – thanks to some padding bids from general manager Dale Tallon – and Versteeg upheld his promise.

“I didn't think it would get to $3,000 but it did,'' Versteeg said with a grin.

The song: Hero by Enrique Iglesias.

“Classic moment,'' teammate Keaton Ellerby said. “It wasn't very good.''

(Video courtesy of the Florida Panthers, the NHL and floridapanthers.com)

Versteeg has been asked to sing on various occasions, and the good natured 25-year-old from Lethbridge, Alberta, has often obliged. Versteeg has become a YouTube hero after being captured singing Fergie in the Blackhawks locker room or rapping at the team's Stanley Cup parade in 2010.

Before taking the microphone from Goldstein on Tuesday, Versteeg recalled the last time Tallon heard him croon. It was at the Cup celebration, a memory both of them would like to replicate with the Panthers.

Tallon says he didn't come to South Florida to retire. He came here to build the Panthers into a champion. On July 1, Tallon got Versteeg back on his team when he acquired the three-time 20-goal scorer in a deal with the cash-strapped Flyers.

The Panthers are Versteeg's third team since his Cup-themed rap that hot June afternoon in Chicago. He hopes he has found a home in Florida.

“It's tough bouncing around, learning new teammates and new systems,'' said Versteeg. “When I finally got traded here, I hoped I could be here for some time. I love it here, love where I live. You can't beat the weather. I want to win here. We rebuilt in Chicago, got to the top and they shipped everyone out. All the new free agents get to reap the benefit of us winning the Cup. I want to stay here and win the Cup here.''

Tallon had been Chicago's general manager for five seasons before being replaced and demoted by the team in 2009 after being blamed for a contract filing mistake with the league. Tallon had left the franchise to join the Panthers before the team had won its first championship since 1961. Tallon flew to Chicago to be Hawkscup part of the celebration, meeting Versteeg and some teammates at a Chicago bar – as he promised – to swig out of the silver chalice.

Tallon says he hadn't touched a drink in 16 years before slugging whiskey out of the Cup that day; he says he hasn't had one since.

“The first thing Dale tells you is the goal is to win the Stanley Cup,'' Versteeg said. “If that's not on the mind of the GM, well, I don't want to play there. His main focus is to develop this franchise to be able to go into battle and win it all. Dale sticks to his word. He says he's not drinking until we get another one.''

Versteeg started last season in Toronto but was traded to Philadelphia in February. Although Versteeg's laid-back attitude didn't fly in hockey-obsessed Toronto, Florida looks like the right fit. Versteeg may hail from a town located between Calgary and Great Falls, Montana, but he looks like he may as well have attended Stranahan High School, spending his days roaming Fort Lauderdale beach.

Teammates say don't let the surfer image fool you. Versteeg isn't afraid to get into a fight and get a little dirty while on the ice. His speed and quick hands also give the Panthers some much-needed offensive punch.

“He's a character guy who keeps things light,'' said Stephen Weiss, who will likely start Saturday's season opener centering a line with Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann. “He does his thing on the ice. He plays hard. He had a tussle the other night and that shows the kind of guy he is. And he's a guy who can score, has good vision. He is a very versatile guy you want on your team. I'm looking forward to playing with him.''

-- The Panthers planned to hold a team dinner in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday before spending the night at a local hotel. The team will take an early flight to New York on Friday and hold an afternoon practice at the Nassau Coliseum to prepare for Saturday's season opener against the Islanders.

-- Coach Kevin Dineen said goalie Jose Theodore would start Saturday's game as expected.


Your 2011-12 NHL Opening Night Rosters

​NEW YORK (October 6, 2011) -- Following are NHL club rosters, as of 11:30 a.m., Eastern time today. The 2011-12 regular season begins tonight with three games.

Anaheim Ducks

Matt Beleskey, Jason Blake, Sheldon Brookbank, Andrew Cogliano, Jeff Deslauriers, Dan Ellis, Kurtis Foster, Cam Fowler, Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Gordon, Nathan Guenin, Jonas Hiller, Saku Koivu, Maxime Macenauer, Brian McGrattan, Brandon McMillan, George Parros, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Luca Sbisa, Teemu Selanne, Devante Smith-Pelly, Lubomir Visnovsky.

Injured: Tony Lydman, Matt Smaby.

Boston Bruins

Matthew Bartkowski,​Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk, Gregory Campbell, Jordan Caron, Zdeno Chara,​Joe Corvo, Andrew Ference,​Nathan Horton​, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, Benoit Pouliot, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, Dennis Seidenberg, Tim Thomas, Shawn Thornton.​

Injured: Steven Kampfer, Marc Savard.

Buffalo Sabres

Luke Adam, Brad Boyes, Christian Ehrhoff, Matt Ellis, Tyler Ennis, Jhonas Enroth, Paul Gaustad, Nathan Gerbe, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Jochen Hecht, Patrick Kaleta, Ville Leino, Jordan Leopold, Drew MacIntyre, Cody McCormick, Ryan Miller, Tyler Myers, Jason Pominville, Robyn Regehr, Derek Roy, Andrej Sekera, Drew Stafford,

Injured: Thomas Vanek, Mike Weber.

Carolina Hurricanes

Bryan Allen, Brian Boucher, Tim Brent, Zac Dalpe, Patrick Dwyer, Justin Faulk, Tim Gleason, Jay Harrison, Jussi Jokinen, Derek Joslin, Tomas Kaberle, Chad Larose, Jamie McBain, Ryan Murphy, Joni Pitkanen, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Tuomo Ruutu, Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal, Anthony Stewart, Brandon Sutter, Jiri Tlusty, Cam Ward.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Cameron Atkinson, Derick Brassard, Matthew Calvert, Jeff Carter, Grant Clitsome, Derek Dorsett, Ryan Johansen, Aaron Johnson, Derek MacKenzie, Radek Martinek, Steve Mason, Maksim Mayorov, Marc Methot, Rick Nash, Samuel Pahlsson, Vaclav Prospal, Kris Russell, Curtis Sanford, David Savard, Fedor Tyutin,R.J. Umberger, Antoine Vermette, James Wisniewski.

Injured: Jared Boll, Mark Dekanich, Kristian Huselius, Theo Ruth.

Calgary Flames

Anton Babchuk, Rene Bourque, Jay Bouwmeester, Chris Butler, Mark Giordano, Curtis Glencross, Niklas Hagman, Scott Hannan, Roman Horak, Jarome Iginla, Tim Jackman, Olli Jokinen, Henrik Karlsson, Miikka Kiprusoff, Tom Kostopoulos, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, David Moss, Cory Sarich, Derek Smith, Matthew Stajan, Lee Stempniak, Alex Tanguay.

Injured: Mikael Backlund, Raitis Ivanans, Brendan Morrison.

Chicago Blackhawks

Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland, Andrew Brunette, Corey Crawford, Ray Emery, Michael Frolik, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Nick Leddy, Sami Lepisto, Jamal Mayers, Steve Montador, Sean O'Donnell, Rostislav Olesz, Brandon Pirri, Brandon Saad, John Scott, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews.

Injured: Philippe Paradis, Ben Smith, Viktor Stalberg.

Colorado Avalanche

Matt Duchene, T.J. Galiardi, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Jan Hejda, Milan Hejduk, Matt Hunwick, Erik Johnson, David Jones, Chuck Kobasew, Gabriel Landeskog, Joakim Lindstrom, Jay McClement, Cody McLeod, Peter Mueller, Shane O'Brien, Ryan O'Byrne, Ryan O'Reilly, Kevin Porter, Kyle Quincey, Paul Stastny, Semyon Varlamov, Ryan Wilson, Daniel Winnik.

Injured: Kyle Cumiskey, Brandon Yip, Mark Olver.

Dallas Stars

Krystofer Barch, Jamie Benn, Adam Burish, Trevor Daley, Jacob Dowell, Radek Dvorak, Loui Eriksson, Vernon Fiddler, Mark Fistric, Alex Goligoski, Nicklas Grossman, Philip Larsen, Kari Lehtonen, Brenden Morrow, Steve Ott, Toby Petersen, Andrew Raycroft, Mike Ribeiro, Stephane Robidas, Michael Ryder, Sheldon Souray, Tomas Vincour, Tom Wandell.

Injured: Scott Glennie, Adam Pardy.

Detroit Red Wings

Justin Abdelkader, Todd Bertuzzi, Fabian Brunnstrom, Daniel Cleary, Mike Commodore, Ty Conklin, Pavel Datsyuk, Patrick Eaves, Cory Emmerton, Jonathan Eriksson, Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Tomas Holmstrom, James Howard, Jiri Hudler, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Lidstrom, Andrew Miller, Brad Stuart, Ian White, Henik Zetterberg.

Injured: Jan Mursak.

Edmonton Oilers

Cam Barker, Eric Belanger, Taylor Chorney, Devan Dubnyk, Jordan Eberle, Tom Gilbert, Taylor Hall, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Darcy Hordichuk, Ryan Jones, Nikolai Khabibulin, Anton Lander, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Linus Omark, Magnus Paajarvi, Theo Peckham, Lennart Petrell, Jeff Petry, Corey Potter, Ladislav Smid, Ryan Smyth, Andy Sutton.

Injured: Ben Eager, Taylor Fedun, Sam Gagner, Ryan Whitney.

Florida Panthers

Sean Bergenheim, David Booth, Matt Bradley, Brian Campbell, Ryan Carter, Evgeny Dadonov, Keaton Ellerby, Tomas Fleischmann, Jason Garrison, Marcel Goc, Erik Gudbranson, Ed Jovanovski, Tomas Kopecky, Dmitry Kulikov, Jacob Markstrom, Shawn Matthias, Jack Skille, Jose Theodore, Scottie Upshall, Kris Versteeg, Mike Weaver, Stephen Weiss.

Injured: Scott Clemmensen, Michael Santorelli.

Los Angeles Kings

Jonathan Bernier, Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Davis Drewiske, Simon Gagne, Matt Greene, Trent Hunter, Jack Johnson, Anze Kopitar, Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Willie Mitchell, Ethan Moreau, Scott Parse, Dustin Penner, Jonathan Quick, Mikel Richards, Brad Richardson, Rob Scuderi, Jarret Stoll, Kevin Westgarth, Justin Williams, Jeff Zatkoff.

Injured: Jake Muzzin.

Minnesota Wild

Niklas Backstrom, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Kyle Brodziak, Brett Bulmer, Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Cullen, Justin Falk, Colton Gillies, Josh Harding, Dany Heatley, Nick Johnson, Mikko Koivu, Guillaume Latendresse, Eric Nystrom, Darroll Powe, Marco Scandella, Nick Schultz, Devin Setoguchi, Jared Spurgeon, Brad Staubitz, Clayton Stoner, Greg Zanon, Marek Zidlicky.

Injured: Cody Almond, Matt Kassian, Mike Lundin.

Montreal Canadiens

Blair Betts, Peter Budaj, Michael Cammalleri, Chris Campoli, Erik Cole, Mathieu Darche, David Desharnais, Raphael Diaz, Andreas Engqvist, Alexei Emelin, Hal Gill, Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, Josh Gorges, Andrei Kostsitsyn, Travis Moen, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Carey Price, Jaroslav Spacek, P.K. Subban, Yannick Weber, Jeff Woywitka.

Injured: Hunter Bishop, Andrei Markov, Brendon Nash, Ryan White.

Nashville Predators

Niclas Bergfors, Jonathon Blum, Mattias Ekholm, Martin Erat, Blake Geoffrion, Matt Halischuk, Jack Hillen, Patric Hornqvist, Sergei Kostsitsyn, Kevin Klein, Teemu Laakso, David Legwand, Anders Lindback, Cal O'Reilly, Pekka Rinne, Craig Smith, Jerred Smithson, Nick Spaling, Zack Stortini, Ryan Suter, Jordin Tootoo, Shea Weber, Colin Wilson.

Injured: Francis Bouillon, Mike Fisher, Roman Josi.

New Jersey Devils

Eric Boulton, Martin Brodeur, David Clarkson, Patrik Elias, Mark Fayne, Mark Fraser, Andy Greene, Johan Hedberg, Adam Henrique, Cam Janssen, Jacob Josefson, Ilya Kovalchuk, Adam Larsson, Bradley Mills, Nick Palmieri, Zach Parise, Rod Pelley, Bryce Salvador, Henrik Tallinder, Mattias Tedenby, Anton Volchenkov, Dainius Zubrus.

Injured: Travis Zajac.

New York Islanders

Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, Rick DiPietro, Mark Eaton, Michael Grabner, Travis Hamonic, Milan Jurcina, Andrew MacDonald, Matt Martin, Al Montoya, Mike Mottau, Matt Moulson, Evgeni Nabokov, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Jay Pandolfo, P.A. Parenteau, Marty Reasoner, Brian Rolston, Steve Staios, Mark Streit, Ryan Strome, John Tavares.

Injured:Jeremy Colliton, Trevor Gillies, Mark Katic, Nino Niederreiter, Rhett Rakhshani.

New York Rangers

Artem Anisimov, Brendan Bell, Stu Bickel, Martin Biron, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen, Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Dubinsky, Steve Eminger, Tim Erixon, Ruslan Fedotenko, Marian Gaborik, Dan Girardi, Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh, Brandon Prust, Brad Richards, Michael Rupp, Michael Sauer, Scott Stajcer, Derek Stepan, Wojtek Wolski, Mats Zuccarello.

Injured: Chad Kolarik, Marc Staal.

Ottawa Senators

Daniel Alfredsson, Craig Anderson, Alex Auld, Bobby Butler, Erik Condra, Jared Cowen, Stephane Da Costa, Nikita Filatov, Nick Foligno, Sergei Gonchar, Colin Greening, Erik Karlsson, Zenon Konopka, Filip Kuba, Brian Lee, Milan Michalek, Chris Neil, Chris Phillips, David Rundblad, Zack Smith, Jason Spezza, Mika Zibanejad.

Injured: Matt Carkner, Peter Regin, Jesse Winchester.

Philadelphia Flyers

Sergei Bobrovsky, Daniel Briere, Ilya Bryzgalov, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jaromir Jagr, Andreas Lilja, Andrej Meszaros, Andreas Nodl, Chris Pronger, Matt Read, Zac Rinaldo, Jody Shelley, Wayne Simmonds, Maxime Talbot, Kimmo Timonen, James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, Matt Walker.

Injured: Ian Laperriere, Brandon Manning, Andrew Rowe.

Phoenix Coyotes

Adrian Aucoin, Paul Bissonnette, Mikkel Boedker, Kyle Chipchura, Shane Doan, Boyd Gordon, Martin Hanzal, Rostislav Klesla, Lauri Korpikoski, Jason LaBarbera, Daymond Langkow, Brett MacLean, Derek Morris, Petteri Nokelainen, Patrick O'Sullivan, Taylor Pyatt, Michal Rozsival, David Schlemko, Mike Smith, Raffi Torres, Radim Vrbata, Ray Whitney, Keith Yandle.

Injured: Kurt Sauer.​

Pittsburgh Penguins

Craig Adams, Arron Asham, Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, Deryk Engelland, Marc-Andre Fleury, Brent Johnson, Tyler Kennedy, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Mark Letestu, Ben Lovejoy, Steve MacIintyre, Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek, James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Richard Park, Jordan Staal, Steve Sullivan, Joe Vitale.

Injured: Robert Bortuzzo, Sidney Crosby, Nick Petersen.

St. Louis Blues

Jason Arnott, David Backes,​Patrik Berglund, Carlo Colaiacovo, Matt D'Agostini,​Brian Elliott, Evgeny Grachev, Jaroslav Halak, Kent Huskins, Barret Jackman, Jamie Langenbrunner, Andy McDonald, Scott Nichol, Nikita Nikitin, T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, Roman Polak, Chris Porter, Ryan Reaves, Kevin Shattenkirk, Vladimir Sobotka, Alexander Steen, Chris Stewart.​

Injured: B.J. Crombeen, David Perron.

San Jose Sharks

Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Ryane Clowe, Logan Couture, Jason Demers, Andrew Desjardins, Thomas Greiss, Michal Handzus, Patrick Marleau, Jamie McGinn, Torrey Mitchell, Andrew Murray, Douglas Murray, Joe Pavelski, Harri Sateri, Joe Thornton, Jim Vandermeer, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Colin White, Brad Winchester, Tommy Wingels.

Injured: Martin Havlat, Antti Niemi, Antero Niittymaki.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Marc-Andre Bergeron, Eric Brewer, Brett Clark, Brett Connolly, Steve Downie, Mathieu Garon, Bruno Gervais, Matt Gilroy, Adam Hall, Victor Hedman, Blair Jones, Pavel Kubina, Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Dominic Moore, Teddy Purcell, Tom Pyatt, Mattias Ritola, Dwayne Roloson, Ryan Shannon, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Nate Thompson.

Injured: Charles Landry, Mattias Ohlund.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Colby Armstrong, Tyler Bozak, Mike Brown, Philippe Dupuis, Cody Franson, Matt Frattin, Jake Gardiner, Mikhail Grabovski, Carl Gunnarsson, Jonas Gustavsson, Phil Kessel, Michael Komisarek, Nikolai Kulemin, John-Michael Liles, Matthew Lombardi, Joffrey Lupul, Clarke MacArthur, Colton Orr, Dion Phaneuf, James Reimer, Jay Rosehill, Luke Schenn, David Steckel.

Injured: Tim Connolly, Nazem Kadri.

Vancouver Canucks

Andrew Alberts, Keith Ballard, Kevin Bieksa, Alexandre Burrows, Andrew Ebbett, Alexander Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Jannik Hansen, Christopher Higgins, Cody Hodgson, Maxim Lapierre, Roberto Luongo, Manny Malhotra, Sami Salo, Mikael Samuelsson, Cory Schneider, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Marco Sturm, Alexander Sulzer, Christopher Tanev, Aaron Volpatti, Dale Weise.

Injured: Nolan Baumgartner, Byron Bitz, Ryan Kesler, Steven Pinizzotto, Mason Raymond, Aaron Rome, Stefan Schneider.,
Washington Capitals

Karl Alzner, Keith Aucoin, Nicklas Backstrom, Jay Beagle, Troy Brouwer, John Carlson, Jason Chimera, Mike Green, Kyle Greentree, Jeff Halpern, Roman Hamrlik, Marcus Johansson, D.J. King, Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich, Michal Neuvirth, Alex Ovechkin, Mathieu Perreault, Jeff Schultz, Alexander Semin, Tomas Vokoun, Joel Ward, Dennis Wideman.

Injured: John Erskine, Matt Hendricks, Tom Poti.

Winnipeg Jets

Nikolai Antropov, Zach Bogosian, Alexander Burmistrov, Dustin Byfuglien, Patrice Cormier, Tobias Enstrom, Tanner Glass, Ron Hainsey, Randy Jones, Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Chris Mason, Derek Meech, Johnny Oduya, Ondrej Pavelec, Mark Scheifele, Jim Slater, Tim Stapleton, Mark Stuart, Chris Thorburn, Kyle Wellwood, Blake Wheeler.

Injured: Eric Fehr, Ben Maxwell, Kenndal McArdle.

Florida Panthers: What's Up with That Number?


Ever wonder why a player wears a certain number?

Sure, some players change numbers all the time. Sometimes they come to a team and are assigned a high number, but once they become established, get to take the one they wore when they were the star of their youth team.

Or something like that.

Anyway, I spoke to a few members of the Panthers on Wednesday and asked them "What's up with that number?" We'll do this randomly throughout the season.

9 Stephen Weiss -- No. 9

“I was pretty close family friends with Adam Graves and I would meet up with him at Maple Leaf Gardens when they were in town. And my uncle wore this number in college. You want to emulate people who you look up to. I wanted to be them, so I took their number.''

Jack Skille -- No. 12

Sstreet “I have worn either 20 or 12 throughout my career. It's a comfort thing. When I started at Wisconsin, the 12 looked really sharp so I took it. It's a good solid number.''

Mike Santorelli -- No. 13

Marino “They gave me this number in camp last year and it's worked out good. It's not because of Dan Marino. And I am a superstitious guy, but being Italian means I'm lucky. They factor each other out.''

25 Jacob Markstrom -- No. 25

“When I was I 16 and went to Brynas [Sweden] as a junior, there were only a few numbers we could have. [Anders] Lindback wore it and we're good friends, so I figured I would take it. I'm happy to have it.''

43 Mike Weaver -- No. 43

“They gave me this number in my first training camp with Atlanta so I kept it. It's a reminder of the road it took to get to the NHL. Looking at that 43 reminds me how lucky I am every day.''

44 Erik Gudbranson -- No. 44

"This is what the Panthers gave me. I have never worn 44 before, never thought about wearing it before here. But, I like it. It looks cool.''

Jose Theodore -- No. 60

60 “I wanted 33 in Montreal and they wouldn't give it to me because of Patrick Roy. I knew that. There were limited numbers so I took 60. I was going to change it, but we made the playoffs and I saw kids wearing my number, so I decided to keep it.''



NHL Opening Day, 2011-12: Prediction Time!


Here are some predictions from around the hockey world on where the Panthers are expected to land once the dust settles as well as who's going to raise the Cup come June.

Where you got the Panthers?

Who you got winning it all?

Comment section below awaits...


FRANK SERAVALLI, Philadelphia Enquirer: Eighth in east

AARON PORTZLINE, Columbus Post-Dispatch: 11th in east

GEORGE RICHARDS, Miami Herald: 11th in east

MICHAEL RUSSO, Minneapolis Star-Tribune: 11th in east

ROB ROSSI, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 12th in east

BUCKY GLEASON, Buffalo News: Fourth in SE

JIM GINTONIO, Arizona Republic: 13th in east

HELENE ELLIOTT, Los Angeles Times: 14th in east

THE HOCKEY NEWS: 14th in east

GREG WYSHYNSKI, Yahoo! Editor, Puck Daddy: 14th in east

ED WILLES, The (Vancouver) Province: 15th in east


JIM GINTONIO, Arizona Republic: Chicago d. Tampa Bay

BUCKY GLEASON, Buffalo News: Los Angeles d. Tampa Bay 

AARON PORTZLINE, Columbus Post-Dispatch: Tampa Bay d. Chicago

GEORGE RICHARDS, Miami Herald: Los Angeles d. Washington

ROB ROSSI, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Montreal d. Detroit

MICHAEL RUSSO, Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Los Angeles d. Tampa Bay

ED WILLES, The (Vancouver) Province: San Jose d. Philadelphia

GREG WYSHYNSKI, Yahoo! Editor, Puck Daddy: San Jose d. Pittsburgh

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington d. Chicago



October 05, 2011

Miami Herald Florida Panthers Preview Section

Photoshoot Here is a sneak peek of what will become the cover of The Miami Herald's annual NHL Preview Section.

It hits your local newsstand on Thursday; will probably be online tonight. But, why not spend 50 cents on the hard copy? It's sure to be a collectible!

In the section is a story on the new-look Panthers from your favorite Miami Herald hockey writer not named David J. Neal, a column from Gregory Cote, team-by-team capsules as well as player capsules. 

We also have a new feature that I will keep alive during the season called 'What's In That Number?' 

For instance, this is why Mike Weaver wears No. 43: 

“They gave me this number in my first training camp with Atlanta so I kept it. It's a reminder of the road it took to get to the NHL. Looking at that 43 reminds me how lucky I am every day.''

We will also have predictions from around the NHL on who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup this coming summer as well as where the Panthers will finish in the Eastern Conference standings.

Hope you give it a look.

Photo caption -- That's Joe Rimkus shooting (from L to R) Brian Campbell, Stephen Weiss and Ed Jovanovski inside an alternate dressing room at the Panthers training facility in Coral Springs. 

Florida Panthers on Twitter ... All the Cool Kids are Doing It

Twitter Thought some of you might enjoy this, especially those of you who have been hesitent to sign up for Twitter.

Basically, it's one giant ball of text messages.

It's fun and it's free. It's also the quickest way to get news around.

Take for instance Monday. Many were emailing me wondering why I hadn't posted anything on Jonathan Huberdeau being sent back to juniors. In fact, I had posted more than a couple posts through Twitter.

Although I ended up posting a full story here, it took longer to crack open the laptop and type up a story than it did to send a text message through my phone and onto the internets.  

So if you want to follow me on Twitter -- which is a solid idea and makes a great Christmas gift -- head on over to Twitter.com and create an account.

Then, simply follow us @OnFrozenPond

Here are some others you may want to check out.

Feel free to add more Twitter accounts you think we should be following below on the comment section. 

And yes, by all means, throw your Twitter name out there on the comment section. You may just get some cool followers.

What is it, a handle?

Happy Tweeting! 10-4 good buddy!

@NHL – Official NHL Twitter feed

@OnFrozenPond – George Richards, Miami Herald

@FlaPanthers – Official Florida Panthers Twitter feed

@JackSkille – Panthers winger Jack Skille

@ScottieUpshall – Panthers winger Scottie Upshall

@ellerby88 – Panthers defenseman Keaton Ellerby

@j_markstrom – Panthers goalie Jacob Markstrom

@JonnyHuby11 – Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau

@S_Timmins – Panthers prospect Scott Timmins

@PanthersYormark – Panthers president Michael Yormark

@hfialkov -- Some other guy who hangs out with me at practice



Meet the 2011-12 Florida Panthers



Ht., Wt.: 5-11, 200

Age: 27

Hometown: Helsinki, Finland

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 7/1

Remaining contract*: 4 years @ $2.75 million

Bergenheim busted out during his first taste of the playoffs last season, scoring nine goals as the Lightning came within a goal of the Stanley Cup Finals.


Ht., Wt.: 6-0, 212

Age: 26

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 6/6

Remaining contract: 4 years @ $4.25 million

Booth bounced back from his nightmarish 2009-10 season by playing in all 82 games for the Panthers last year. Booth scored 23 goals but was a minus-31; Florida is looking for big things this season.


Ht., Wt.: 6-3, 210

Age: 33

Hometown: Stittsville, Ontario

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 11/1

Remaining contract: 2 years @ $950,000

Bradley didn't score many goals for the Capitals last season but was a fan favorite in the District for his intense style of play. He'll toughen up the Florida fourth line for sure.


Ht., Wt.: 6-1, 200

Age: 28

Hometown: White Bear Lake, Minn.

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 5/2

Remaining contract: 1 year @ $750,000

Carter played for three teams last season as he was traded from Anaheim to Carolina before landing in Sunrise. The Panthers liked what they saw as Carter is one of the few 'tryout' players from last year to return.


Ht., Wt: 5-10, 180

Age: 22

Hometown: Chelyabinsk, Russia

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 2/2

Remaining contract: 1 year @ $875,000

Dadonov started last season with AHL Rochester, but after scoring eight goals in 24 games was brought to Florida where he showed playmaking ability and a skillful flair.


Ht., Wt.: 6-1, 192

Age: 27

Hometown: Koprivnice, Czech Republic

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 7/1

Remaining contract: 4 years @ $4.5 million

Fleischmann started last season with the Capitals but was traded and re-found his game with the Avs. Fleischmann had 21 points in 22 games before being shut down with blood clots. He's been cleared by doctors but it's a condition the Panthers will monitor.


Ht., Wt.: 6-1, 205

Age: 28

Hometown: Calw, Germany

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 7/1

Remaining contract: 3 years @ $1.7 million

A strong puck moving center, Goc won't be asked to score a lot although he does have good hands and a knack for scoring timely goals. Goc had nine in 51 games with the Preds last season.


Ht., Wt.: 6-3, 200

Age: 29

Hometown: Ilava, Slovakia

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 6/1

Remaining contract: 4 years @ $3 million

A two-time Cup champ with Detroit and Chicago, Kopecky was traded to the Panthers prior to the free agent spending spree began. Tough in front of the net, Kopecky should add to last year's 15 goals.


Ht., Wt.: 6-2, 213

Age: 23

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 4/4

Remaining contract: 2 years @ $850,000

After suffering an ankle injury that cut short his season, Matthias had a strong camp after the team only offered him a two-way contract during the summer. Matthias has 13 goals in the past two years.


Ht., Wt.: 6-0, 189

Age: 25

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 4/2

Remaining contract: 2 years @ $1.6 million

The Panthers got Santorelli on the cheap last summer and he proved to be a steal, scoring 20 goals and playing in all 82. Santorelli will start this season on the DL, however, after hurting his shoulder.


Ht., Wt.: 6-1, 205

Age: 24

Hometown: Madison, Wisc.

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 4/2

Remaining contract: 2 years @ $825,000

Drafted in the first round by Chicago, Skille was reunited with Dale Tallon in a midseason trade last year. Skille brings size and speed to the lineup – and an ability to score a bit as well.


Ht., Wt.: 6-0, 200

Age: 27 (birthday on Friday)

Hometown: Fort McMurray, Alberta

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 7/1

Remaining contract: 4 years @ $3.5 million

Upshall is a player the Panthers are really counting on to provide some scoring punch. In 82 games between Phoenix and Columbus last season, Upshall put in 22 goals.


Ht., Wt.: 5-10, 180

Age: 25

Hometown: Lethbridge, Alberta

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 5/1

Remaining contract: 1 year @ $3.1 million

One of Tallon's favorite players from the Chicago days, Versteeg (with three 20-goal seasons on the resume) was traded to Toronto after the Hawks' championship and ended last season with the Flyers. 


Ht., Wt.: 5-11, 180

Age: 28

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 10/10

Remaining contract: 2 years @ $3.1 million

The Panthers top line center, Weiss led the Panthers in scoring last season although it wasn't his greatest of moments. Weiss got beat up last year and is looking to come back strong.



Ht., Wt: 5-11, 185

Age: 32

Hometown: Strathroy, Ontario

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 10/1

Remaining contract: 5 years @ $7.14 million

The Panthers acquired this top defenseman at the draft for Rostislav Olesz. Campbell should bring strong defense while helping out on the offensive end – especially on power plays.


Ht., Wt.: 6-4, 200

Age: 22

Hometown: Strathmore, Alberta

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 3/3

Remaining contract: 1 year @ $787,000

Ellerby, the 10th overall pick in the 2007 draft, really picked up his game after a disappointing rookie season. Ellerby is much stronger, assertive and plays with a bit of a mean streak.


Ht., Wt.: 6-2, 220

Age: 26

Hometown: White Rock, British Columbia

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 3/3

Remaining contract: 1 year @ $675,000

An undrafted free agent signing by Jacques Martin, Garrison has been a great find and has quietly become a top defenseman for the Panthers. In a contract year, expect more big things.


Ht., Wt.: 6-4, 195

Age: 19

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 1/1

Remaining contract: 3 years @ $900,000

Gudbranson is expected to make his NHL debut in Florida's season opener Saturday against the host New York Islanders. The third overall pick in 2010, Gudbranson is quick and big and can play.


Ht., Wt.: 6-1, 183

Age: 20

Hometown: Lipetsk, Russia

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 3/3

Remaining contract: 1 year @ $375,000

A victim of the dreaded sophomore slump, Kulikov's game seemingly got stronger as the season went along and Florida gave him more responsibility. Expect the Panthers to keep doing that.


Ht., Wt.: 6-3, 218

Age: 35

Hometown: Windsor, Ontario

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 16/5

Remaining contract: 4 years @ $4.15 million

The first overall selection in the 1994 draft by the Panthers, Jovanovski comes back to the Panthers after being traded away in 1999. 'JovoCop' only played in 50 games last year but had a strong camp.


Ht., Wt.: 5-9, 186

Age: 33

Hometown: Bramalea, Ontario

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 10/2

Remaining contract: 1 year @ $900,000

Weaver has proven himself to be a top-end defender as he uses his long reach to pick off pucks and he always seems to be in the way. Last year's 11 assists were a career high.



Ht., Wt.: 6-3, 205

Age: 34

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 9/3

Remaining contract: 1 year @ $1.2 million

Clemmensen was having a strong camp and was in competition to start Saturday's season opener against the Islanders before having minor knee surgery. Clemmensen should be back later this month.


Ht., Wt.: 6-3, 178

Age: 21

Hometown: Gavle, Sweden

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 1/1

Remaining contract: 2 years @ $875,000

With Clemmensen on the shelf, Markstrom – Florida's 'Goalie of the Future' – gets an early taste of NHL life. Markstrom is big and doesn't scare easy. Good characteristics for a goalie.


Ht., Wt.: 5-11, 181

Age: 35

Hometown: Laval, Quebec

NHL seasons/With Panthers: 14/1

Remaining contract: 2 years @ $1.5 million

A past Vezina and Hart winner while with Montreal, Theodore is eager to prove his best isn't in the past. Theodore had a strong season with the Wild last season before signing on with Florida in July.

(*) Salary numbers are based on cap hits (average over length of contract) and not actual money paid out by the Panthers with exception of rookie (Gudbranson, Kulikov, Markstrom) contracts which have higher cap hits.


Everything You Need in Time for the 2011-12 NHL Season to Start


4-Keaton Ellerby – D

7-Dmitry Kulikov –D

9-Stephen Weiss – F

10-David Booth – F

12-Jack Skille – F

14-Tomas Fleischmann – F

18-Shawn Matthias – F

19-Scottie Upshall – F

20-Sean Bergenheim – F

22-Matt Bradley – F

24-Ryan Carter – F

25-Jacob Markstrom – G

32-Kris Versteeg – F

43-Mike Weaver – D

44-Erik Gudbranson – D

51-Brian Campbell – D

52-Jason Garrison – D

55-Ed Jovanovski – D

57-Marcel Goc – F

60-Jose Theodore – G

63-Evgeny Dadonov – F

82-Tomas Kopecky – F

F Steven Reinprecht and D Mike Kostka have been assigned to San Antonio (AHL).

F Mike Santorelli and G Scott Clemmensen will start the season on injured reserve.


NHL Opening Night: Thursday, October 6 – Philadelphia @ Boston, Montreal @ Toronto, Pittsburgh @ Vancouver. 

Hall of Fame Game: Boston @ Toronto, Saturday, Nov. 5. 

2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic: NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers @ Citizens Bank Park, Monday, Jan. 2. 

All-Star Break: Jan. 26-30

2012 NHL All-Star Weekend @ Ottawa. 

Meeting of 2011 Stanley Cup Finalists: Vancouver @ Boston – Saturday, Jan. 7. 

Meeting of the past two Stanley Cup champions: Boston @ Chicago -- Saturday, Oct. 15. 

Busiest Day: Saturday, April 7 -- 15 games. 

Regular Season Concludes: April 7, 2012. 


Dallas -- Glen Gulutzan

Florida -- Kevin Dineen

Minnesota -- Mike Yeo

New Jersey -- Pete DeBoer

Ottawa -- Paul MacLean

Winnipeg -- Claude Noel


NY Islanders – Mark Streit

NY Rangers – Ryan Callahan

Philadelphia – Chris Pronger

St. Louis – David Backes


Calgary -- Jay Feaster

Winnipeg -- Kevin Cheveldayoff 


October 04, 2011

Stephen Weiss: Florida Panthers Right Not to Rush Jonathan Huberdeau

Weissdraft Stephen Weiss had a 19th birthday to remember.

On April 3, 2002, Weiss made his NHL debut in Sunrise, scoring a goal in Florida's 3-2 win over the Penguins.

Weiss played in nine games that season, yet that was his only goal. In the following eight games, he notched just one assist as his playing time dwindled.

Even though he was adamant that he wanted to play with the Panthers, Weiss now says he wasn't physically ready for the rigors of the NHL.

With that in mind, Weiss says he agrees with the Panthers' assessment that 18-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau should go back to his junior team in Quebec for a little more seasoning.

"Everyone wants to be here and you don't want to go back,'' said Weiss, the fourth overall pick of the 2001 draft by the Panthers.

“Looking back, I wasn't ready. I wasn't strong enough and to just play 10 minutes a night wasn't the best thing for me. If I was playing as much as I am now, it might be a different story. But I wasn't. That would probably be the case for Jonathan, so he's better off.''

Huberdraft Huberdeau was sent back to Saint John of the QMJHL on Monday.

“He's going to be a great player, I don't think there's any doubt about that,'' said Weiss, who has played in 548 games with the Panthers since that first season.

“There's no rush to put him in this kind of situation. I think it will be good for him to go back and score a lot and win and do what he did last year if not better. Hopefully he takes it the right way and continues to work knowing he's going to be here for a long time.

"He has a long career ahead. Right now he should play with his buddies and guys his own age. He needs to enjoy this year.''



Florida Panthers Finalize Roster, Send Steven Reinprecht and Mike Kostka to AHL San Antonio

Reino The Panthers finalized their opening night roster on Tuesday by making two expected moves.

Veteran center Steven Reinprecht, who cleared waivers last week, was assigned to Florida's American Hockey League affiliate in San Antonio.

It's believed Florida will try to bring Reinprecht back up through re-entry waivers, making it easier for another team to claim him and take half of his $2 million salary off the books.

Florida also placed defenseman Mike Kostka on waivers. If Kostka clears, as expected, he'll be assigned to San Antonio as well.

With those two moves made, the Panthers will visit the New York Islanders on Saturday with 22 players on the roster. Florida's lineup breaks up like this: 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies.

“We're down to the numbers,'' first-year coach Kevin Dineen said. “It's an exciting time to get our team out there. We've had a couple of strong practices and I think are players are getting more comfortable not only with our expectations but with each other. That chemistry part can never be understated.''

Kostka Kostka's strong camp – and his breakthrough AHL season last year in which the 25-year-old scored 16 goals with 55 points for Rochester – kept him around until the final day. He met with Dineen and general manager Dale Tallon following practice.

Dineen was obviously a Kostka supporter as he coached him for two seasons with AHL Portland from 2008-10. Dineen said he tried to stay out of conversations when it came to Kostka, instead allowing his play to speak for itself. In the end, however, it was apparent Dineen didn't want to see Kostka head west.

“I don't know if I'm getting fed tonight. He was one of my wife's favorites from Maine,'' Dineen joked.

Of the bubble players to make the roster, Dineen singled out Ryan Carter and Shawn Matthias for the most praise. Carter came to the Panthers during last season's tumultuous salary dump and was the only one of the so-called 'try out' players to be invited back. Players like Niklas Bergfors and Sergei Samsonov, also acquired late last season, weren't retained.

Carter, Matthias and July 2 signee Matt Bradley appear to make up Florida's revamped fourth line. Evgeny Dadonov, starting his second full season with the Panthers, may be the odd man out at least early on.

Barring injury, Florida will have to make another roster move in the coming weeks when Mike Santorelli (shoulder) is ready to play. Santorelli isn't wearing a sling and has been watching practices the past few days.



October 03, 2011

Florida Panthers Send Jonathan Huberdeau Back to Saint John ... Erik Gudbranson Set to Make NHL Debut on Saturday v Islanders

Huberdraft The Panthers decided Jonathan Huberdeau's future worth is much more than his current on Monday, sending the talented 18-year-old forward back to his junior team in Quebec.

Huberdeau, the third overall pick of the 2011 draft, is not eligible to play for the Panthers this season save for an emergency call-up or until his junior team's season is complete.

Last year, Huberdeau helped the Saint John Sea Dogs to the Canadian junior championship by winning the Memorial Cup.

The Panthers needed to sign Huberdeau to an entry level contract by Tuesday, although now, there's no hurry to get a deal done. Huberdeau, by scoring a team-high three goals during the preseason, did make it tough on Florida's decision makers.

“Was it tempting? It was real tempting,'' Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said not long after breaking the news to Huberdeau alongside coach Kevin Dineen.

“You have to make a decision that’s best for long term. For the benefit of the kid and for the franchise. He's 173 pounds. I think in his heart, he knows he needs to get stronger. .-.-.

"There’s a vulnerability there as far his size. But we know we didn’t mess up in the draft. That’s for sure. You have 220 pound, 30-year-old guys leaning on him. Not 170 pound kids. We're here for the long haul. We know he can play. .-.-.

"It's exciting for our franchise to have that. When he comes back, he'll be ready to go.’’

By going back to his junior team, Huberdeau has a chance to dominate play at that level and build on the 59 goals and 76 assists he recorded in 86 games last season. He'll also have a chance to play at the World Juniors for Team Canada this winter.

Huberdeau had a strong showing at the Canada summer camp before reporting to the Panthers and seems excited about the future – especially after the experiences of spending most of the past month in Florida.

“It was a great experience here and I learned a lot with all the veterans,'' Huberdeau said. “I can't be disappointed by going down. I'm going to go have a great year in junior and I'm excited to see the boys.''

Huber11 A little while after meeting with the front office, Huberdeau sent out a tweet thanking the Panthers. “Thanks for all the support !! Enjoyed my time in south Florida !! I'll be back next year #goodlucktoalltheboys''

Panthers forward Scottie Upshall then replied: “U had a great camp for us and you will be a AllStar in this league soon. Good luck and bring that MemCup back to SaintJohn.''

Said Dineen: “He made it an extremely tough decision because of his maturity and his play. We feel at this time he has some physical development to do and that's best to happen at the junior level. I have no doubt Jonathan could contribute to this team, his skill set says he could. He'll be part of this organization for a very long time.''

Huberdeau learned first-hand what it takes to play in the physical world of the NHL. Although the Panthers know what they have in Huberdeau as a playmaker, the worry was that he just isn't built for the rigors of an 82 game schedule just yet. “I'm not that big,'' he said. “I would rather be here next year when I'm bigger. I don't have anything to protect me. I don't have big muscles like the other guys.''

Tallon said at the draft that Huberdeau needed to mature and get stronger, although the rigors of this offseason didn't lend itself to much work. Next summer should be a big step in Huberdeau's development – although Tallon doesn't want him to bulk up too much.

“He's going to be a big kid. He's 6-1, so he's got the frame,'' Tallon said. “Nature just has to take its course.''

Both Tallon and Huberdeau downplayed the contract needed for him to play for the Panthers this season. Tallon said if Florida was set on Huberdeau staying with Florida, “we would have gotten something done.''

Florida was in a similar predicament with defenseman Erik Gudbranson last year. Also a third-overall pick, Gudbranson had a strong camp and appeared to at least garner the nine game junior Guds tryout with the Panthers. The two sides couldn't agree to a contract, however, and Gudbranson was sent back down.

Gudbranson ended up signing his entry level deal with the Panthers earlier this summer. On Monday, coach Kevin Dineen said Gudbranson will start the season with the team. Gudbranson could be returned to his junior team after nine games, although the general consensus is he will remain with the Panthers throughout the season.

“He's ready to contribute to our lineup,'' Dineen said. “I'm excited about him and excited to get him in his first NHL game. And that will be on Saturday night.''

-- Tallon said that even though the roster doesn't need to be set until Wednesday afternoon, the Panthers will likely make final cuts on Tuesday.

Defenseman Mike Kostka and forward Steven Reinprecht (who has already cleared waivers) are expected to be the final players to go with Shawn Matthias and Evgeny Dadonov making the squad.

-- Florida will start the season with 22 players (seven defensemen, 13 forwards and two goalies) with Scott Clemmensen and Mike Santorelli starting the season on the injured list.

-- Aside from Clemmensen and Santorelli, the Panthers were at full strength on Monday with Stephen Weiss, Sean Bergenheim and Upshall all going through a rigorous practice.