Good afternoon, hope you all are enjoying this beautiful Friday afternoon here in South Florida.
The big news out of today's morning skate is Mike Weaver signing a two-year contract extension with the Panthers.
Weaver, now in his second season with the Cats, is a nice success story. He was told all his life he was too small to be an effective NHL defenseman, yet here he is, playing in Game No. 459 tonight against the Rangers.
Kris Versteeg was so happy, he hit Weaver in the face with a shaving cream pie while he was doing TV interviews in the locker room.
“I love Florida,'' Weaver said today. “Given two years; they show a lot of confidence game in and game out. They put me in a lot of different situations and I thrive in that. I just want to keep it simple, move past this and keep going. I just look one game at a time, one season at a time.
"I've worked my butt off since I've turned pro to get in a situation I feel comfortable in. It's nice to be in Florida, that's for sure.''
Here's what Weaver told me in training camp on why he 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.''
Yeah, he isn't taking this for granted.
When asked how long his stick it, the 5-foot-9 Weaver said “I really don't know, but it's taller than me without skates, that's for sure.''
-- That leaves Jason Garrison as Florida's only unrestricted free agent on the blue line. The Panthers have often said they are confident a deal with Garrison will get done. He says he wants to be here; the Panthers say they want him here. So there you go.
-- Look for Scott Clemmensen to be in net tonight for the Panthers with Jose Theodore going against the Habs tomorrow night.
Dineen said he will dress an extra forward for the pre-game skate today, but Keaton Ellerby and Evgenii Dadonov spent a long time on the post-skate ice today.
Dadonov hadn't even come into the room by the time I left this morning.
So that means Dadonov is out, Weiss is in.
Dineen also split up the top line on Friday, with Weiss centering a line with Tomas Kopecky and Kris Versteeg. Shawn Matthias was with Tomas Fleischmann and Matt Bradley on the second line.
The third line: Mike Santorelli centering Michal Repik and Tim Kennedy; Fourth: Mark Cullen with Krys Barch and Bill Thomas.
-- Nothing new on the John Madden situation. Hope to know more tonight.
-- The Rangers didn't skate today – they worked out in Virginia on Thursday afternoon following Wednesday's loss to the Capitals – but all signs point to Henrik Lundqvist in net.
Avery probably wouldn't have played Friday – or Monday – anyway; he's been a healthy scratch in the past nine games.