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Happy Hockey Holidays

Anniesnow Good times outside the BankAtlantic Center tonight, kids of all ages out playing in the snow, getting pictures with Stanley Claus.

But enough about the Maple Leafs.

Hockeysanta_2 Getting ready for a large and energetic crowd tonight. Talked to JM about the expected sellout before the game, and he -- being the good corporate guy he is -- says he doesn't care who the fans are cheering for as long as they are filling the seats. So, go ahead and root for the Leafs if you so wish.

-- Those of you coming to the game tonight get to see one of the funnier skits I've seen at a Panthers game. Those of you who aren't going, check it out here, compliments of our main man Lenny Lenihan: MAKE LIKE A TREE AND GET OUTTA HERE...

Old Craig looks like he has a future in TV. If not FSN or NBC, perhaps SNL?

Talked to him about it today, and he says they came to him with the idea and he was all for it. He adds that he's going to do something special with the famous Dancing Banana tonight. When I told him I was a big fan of the Banana, he said "figures.''

-- Also, thanks to some crack investigative reporting by this guy, it appears the Dancing Inflatable Banana has ties to, gasp!, Tampa Bay. Yep, seems the old banana got its start at Devil Rays games (it's originally a take of Brian the Dog from Family Guy). Anywho, here's the basic schtick: PEANUT BUTTAH JELLY TIME...  

-- What is it with Florida's backup goalies? They're all comedians. Remember this spoof from way back in 2005? It actually does seem like a long time ago doesn't it? GOOD TIMES W/ NOODLES AND LOUIE

-- Not much to report right now. All the lines remain the same, David Booth still out of the lineup.

-- This will be in my notebook tomorrow, but asked JM about how seriously talks were between Panthers and San Jose last summer for Vesa Toskala. If you recall, Maple Leafs made deal for Toskala early on draft day; some had thought (as I was told) Florida was trying to swing a deal.

JM says once they found out Nashville was shopping Tomas Vokoun, that's where the Panthers' attentions went. "He was a better fit,'' JM said. He admits FLA and SJ had talks during last season and during the summer about bringing Toskala south. Nothing, duh!, came of it.

Both goalies, it should be noted, are playing very well.

-- Watching the New Mexico Bowl right now. Seriously! Lobos (that would be the Lobos of the University of New Mexico) are leading the Nevada Wolf (two words) Pack 20-0 late in the second quarter.

Ever been to Albuquerque? One of America's best kept secrets. Cool town, pretty landscape, good eats. I dig it.

-- Before the game, Stephen Weiss told us his hero as a kid was Mats Sundin. Tonight, as starting centers, the two met for the start of the game and participated in the ceremonial faceoff.

Brianbobble_2 -- Wish all of you a happy holidays and a good new year. Even those of you who have taken a few days off to enjoy Christmas at a beachfront condo in St. Augustine.

-- What in the world is Don Cherry wearing? Holy smokes! Remember that line from George Costanza about being wrapped in velvet? Grapes is ensconced in velvet. Whoo boy. That's one crazy look.