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31 posts from December 2007

December 31, 2007

Merry New Year!

MerrynewyearJust wanted to send out my warmest wishes to everyone as we move into 2008.

Me? I'll always be stuck in the 80s, but you all can move on forward if you want to.

Thanks to everyone who visited the site during 2007, especially those of you who dropped me an email or a comment here on the site. It's fun to be able to interact and talk hockey, bad movies or anything else that comes down the Turnpike.

See you in Jersey.....

December 30, 2007

Phat in Philly

ReidGreetings from your favorite chubby Florida hockey writer who, in desperation to find a Philadelphia connection without going to the cheesesteak well again, came up with an Andy Reid connection.

My apologies coach if I've hurt your feelings, but I like my shirts with a pair of Xs in them too.

With that out of the way, we can return to hockey. Coming live from the Sunrise Arena, getting set for an afternoon tilt between the Marlins and Phillies. Looking forward to seeing Ryan Howard in the middle of this lineup. Dude can mash.

-- Speaking of mashed, JM sending a message it appears as Branislav Mezei is a healthy scratch today. Mezei was one of the players JM called out by name after Friday's loss to Montreal. Mez sure wasn't the only guilty party, but it looks like he's the one paying for it. He may be hurt, but he didn't look it at practice yesterday. If he is injured, will update.

-- Speaking of fat, had lunch at Char-Hut today. Hard to find a better burger than that in South Florida. We don't have In-and-Out you know.

-- In the "I Could Have Predicted That" Department: JM has switched up his lines again. Starting tonight: The trio of Olli, Dvorak and McLean start today.

-- And we're underway. Since today's game isn't on local TV, everyone stand up and shout "LIVE BLOG!"

-- Redskins leads Cowboys 10-0; that game is on local TV. Fox-7 to be precise.

Browns -- Obviously looking forward to tonight's Oilers-Colts matchup. Not only is it a battle of transplants (I know: get over it), but if the Colts win, the 10-6 Brownies get into the playoffs. So, I'm rooting for the Colts.

-- Somebody put something in the Florida water bottles today. They are downright flying. Drug test!

-- Gary Roberts, former protein shake mixologist for the Panthers, is out indefinitely with a broken leg suffered last night. Best wishes go out to him with hopes for a speedy recovery.

-- Shots five minutes in: FLA 5-1. But if you don't score, "you ain't got dinky-doo.''

-- Official "Lets Root for the Colts" watch party tonight at the Sunrise Quarterdeck...bring your own Baltimore memorabilia.

-- David Booth playing with Jozef "Goalie" Stumpel and Tanner "Broken" Glass...

-- Speaking of broken, Rochester went down to Cleveland 3-0 last night. That puts them in last place in their division. Amerks have lost 11 of 12.

Bluesbros -- The Ice Dancers have gone country and western on us. And that's just fine with me. The Philly writers seem to be enjoying the scenery too...

-- Speaking of skimpy, congrats to the Dolphins for just finishing this season. Don't know if I'll get to cover Cam this summer or not.

-- Here are your complete line combos as it stands right now: Olli-Dvo-McLean; Weiss-Campbell-Horton; Stumpel-Glass-Booth; Kreps-Olesz-Zednik...

-- Olli hits the ice, first penalty of night. Not saying Olli dove on the call, but if Ed Belfour was here, he might have done a demonstration...

-- Midway through first: FLA dominating play, keeping the puck deep in the Philly zone and outshooting the visitors 7-1. But no score. So there you are...

-- Radek Dvorak gets a penalty shot with a minute left, goes high...still scoreless...


-- We're in the second period now, not a whole lot to report...almost at the midway point and both teams have had some nice scoring chances...both teams have had power plays, and both goalies are playing well...FLA still leads big in shots, now @ 20-6...

-- Hate to jinx anything, but you can definitely tell a difference in the game presentation. Most of the Montreal game was all about hockey (except for the two Izod ads) and the commercials haven't been prevalent in this game either...just good old fashioned hockey....

-- Good crowd in the house...for JH who asked what the percentage of Flyers fans are here, the answer is: not noticible. See a few Philly jerseys, but doesn't look any different from a normal game, although the upper deck is pretty full...


December 29, 2007

Live from the Orange Bowl

ObieOK, I wish. Not really in the Orange Bowl, but am courtside at BankAtlantic Center for the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

Game 1 pits your Winthrop Eagles vs. the Miami Hurricanes. Game 2 features some team from Gainesville and Temple.

Surprisingly, not a big crowd here. I thought Miami hoops had a huge following! Good thing there are some early arriving Gator fans or this would look like that preseason Panthers game against Chicago.

Anyway, plan on blogging live hoops for those who care, while dropping some hockey on you as we go. Should be a fun afternoon!

For a more serious Cane basketball perspective, check out Manny Navarro's Eye on The U blog, available right here: MANNY'S OK W/ G..

-- Don't know who is responsible for the $20 parking charge at the arena today, the Panthers or the Orange Bowl. Either way, both parties should be ashamed of themselves. $20 to park in an otherwise empty lost is disgraceful and sad. My tip: Tell them you're going to IKEA, park in the IKEA section and walk over. Or, park at Sawgrass and hoof it. 20 bucks to park downtown or on South Beach you deal with. To park in the middle of nowhere in Sunrise? Baloney.

-- Funny/sad story from your Florida Everblades. Seems one of their players had one too many drinks on a flight from Toronto to Dallas. David Cornacchia, a career minor leaguer who spent last season in Europe, was arrested by the FBI after allegedly slapping a male flight attendant on an American Airlines flight after the FA refused to serve him a third drink.

According to various reports, Cornacchia cursed people on the flight who tried to intervene, and even exposed himself. Cornacchia was eventually cuffed and restrained by people on the flight, but head butted one person trying to subdue him Cornacchia told FBI guys he had been drinking all day.

Here's the fun part: He's been released and is allowed to continue flying. He hasn't been suspended (he has four goals and 14 assists for the Estero Blades) and is trying to meet up with the team in Pensacola for a game tonight. He was flying alone because he spent the Christmas holiday at home in Toronto; the Blades played Friday in ole' Miss.

If you want, read more here: EXPOSED BLADE

-- Hope they break out the Dancing Banana at the Canes game today.

Tradingplaces -- Who is your favorite Winthrop of all time? This one is mine, obviously...

-- Tampa Bay Lightning are really slumping, losing to Philly Phylers today at Orlando Sentinel Arena. Flyers led 2-1 going into the third, end up winning 4-2. Bolts have now lost four straight and nine of 11. And now they go on the road for four games. At least they don't have Marc Denis to kick around anymore...

-- Philly comes into Sunrise riding a two-game winning streak. The Cheesesteaks had lost six straight before beating Toronto Thursday.

-- Stanley C. and mini Stanley are here. So there's hope for the Dancing Banana after all...

-- Crowd starting to fill in at BAC....4:25 left before the tip...

-- Canes look a little flat here in the early going, and Winthrop looks athletic and shooting the ball well...Anthony King just posts up and is going to the line...with 10:25 left in the first, Winthrop leads 19-13...

-- And that picture of Dan Akyroyd is from the movie Trading Places, where his character's name is actually Winthorpe (thanks for the fix Shandel)...Some of you emailing are very young. Winthorpe, Winthrop, it's all the same.

-- Fun game here at the BAC...Canes starting to get some outside scoring, have taken a 32-27 lead with 32 seconds left in the first half...Anthony King kept UM in it, 14 points inside...


-- This is the coldest basketball game I've ever been at...feels like I'm sitting on top of ice or something.

-- Speaking of cold, Rochester snapped a 10-game losing streak last night with win over Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Amerks had lost 10 games two previous times in franchise history. As Tyler Plante said: "At least we didn't make history.''

Want to read more about the Amerks, check out gamer here: rochester is beautiful this time of year

-- Speaking of picture spots, Amerks in Cleveland tonight. They ain't the Barons anymore. No, they are the "Lake Erie Monsters.'' Seriously. Still have my Cleveland Lumberjacks jersey from their IHL days...

-- Winthrop is shooting from all over the joint and just hit a three from Stanley's...With 12:51 left, Winthrop leads UM 42-40...

-- Canes can't do anything outside, not trying inside...Devis drives in, though, and gets fouled...hits FT, canes down six w/ 5:45 left...

-- Miami now down eight with 2:37nleft...looks like this perfect season is coming to an end...to Winthrop...

-- And that's that...Canes lost to Winthrop...


That'll do it for now. See everyone tomorrow when the Panthers play host to the Dayton Flyers at 5.

Drive careful, and stay away from the yellow snow....

Panthers New Goalie

StumpelgoalieThe Panthers had a new goalie in net at the end of Saturday's practice in Coral Springs.

I know the photo is a little fuzzy, but if you click on it, you get a better image.

In net: Jozef Stumpel. On offense: Tomas Vokoun.

While Vokoun and Stumpel traded equipment and assignments, Rostislav Olesz kept feeding the puck and trying to get shots past Stumpel. Vokoun also tried defending Olesz on a breakaway, one time flipping on Olesz's first move. Fun stuff after a pretty hard practice.

Check out the video of Stumpel and Vokoun's performance here: OFFICIAL SITE OF GOOFY VIDEO...

-- Got some news for you. David Booth is back in the lineup tomorrow, says he feels 100 percent and is ready to roll. Anthony Stewart, who got his first point of the season last night, is joining Rochester for its big tilt in Cleveland tonight.

-- Ruslan Salei didn't practice today, Martin not giving reason other than saying he needed some rest. Says he's pretty sure Salei is back in the lineup tomorrow against the Flyers. But, just in case, Martin Lojek is still around.

-- Heard some people had problems with a few bad apples in the very large Montreal contingent last night, some complaining to me that the Panthers shouldn't cater to visiting teams like this. Seriously, are you kidding? They had the biggest crowd in the building's history for a hockey game -- and that includes the All-Star Game a few years back. This was the best money making game the franchise has had in a long time. Almost every ticket distributed last night was paid for, and you can't sneeze at that.

Say what you want about home ice advantage, but who knows how many Florida fans were in the house because, well, the Panthers stunk it up so quickly "they didn't have anything to cheer for,'' JM said. Touche.

Plus, there were considerably more Montreal fans at Bell Center last week in Montreal and the Panthers had no problem quieting that bunch down. The Panthers like having a lot of people in the building, makes it fun. There was a good buzz last night, one the Panthers -- and their accountants -- would love to see more of.

-- Will be blogging courtside from BankAtlantic Center later this afternoon. That's right, a special University of Miami Orange Bowl basketball blog. Will see you in a bit. Remember to check back because I have a pretty funny story for ya...

Later, Florida Gator...

December 28, 2007

On the Trail

MagnumCovering the Florida Panthers for the Miami Herald is a lot like being a private investigator.

I'm always out there looking for answers, you know, asking questions, peeking in doors, looking into garbage cans. Sometimes the answers come easy, sometimes you have to wait a while. Eventually, though, the truth comes out.

The Panthers play host to Montreal here in a little bit. Here's what we know: The Panthers called up defenseman Martin Lojek from the minors. Here's what we don't: Why. Talked to JM the GM just moments ago. He says the Lojek call-up was for a precaution.

What precaution? JM remained tight lipped. Is it Bryan Allen? Nothing. Mezei? Blank stare. Bouwmeester, Cullimore, Montador, Salei? Nada.

So we wait and we see. Maybe Lojek plays tonight, maybe he doesn't. If he does, my sense of deduction tells me to see who is not playing and, voila!, there's your injured Panther. But what's the injury? The questions, my friends, never end.

-- The player in question, The Miami Herald has learned, is Ruslan Salei. But he's out there, looks fine and is in the lineup tonight. So, moot point after all.

-- Good media coverage for this game tonight. In Canada anyway. The back media lot looks like its playoff time. Four, count 'em, four TV production trucks are crammed into spots where only two usually park. The reason: One for FSN, two for Canada's ESPN (some call it TSN) and one for French ESPN (nickname RDS).

That's a whole lotta TV. Tonight's game is being broadcast to the southern part of Florida, and to all of Canada. Right now, they are almost one and the same. Game is also shown nationwide by those who have my newest, favorite network -- the NHL Network.

-- Rumors that Saku Koivu wasn't going to play tonight because of illness seem unfounded. The Habs' captain is out there for warmups and expected to be in the lineup.

-- Welcome to southern Quebec where the Panthers just got booed in their own building when coming onto the ice. Lot of red in here, and it's mostly Canadiens' road red.

-- Lojek is officially a healthy scratch; Koivu is playing.

-- So, what else is on TV tonight?

-- Game update for those watching the Andy Griffith Show marathon on TV Land: Vokoun back in net to start the second period; FLA actually outshooting  Habs 17-6 right now. Of course, it's still 3-0...

--  And should Gregory Campbell have been given five minutes for fighting if he didn't actually throw a punch? He had some nice wrestling moves though, and should have been awarded two points for the takedown.

Breaking News: Rain

GenekellyATLANTA -- Woke up this morning, rain pouring down onto the streets in downtown Atlanta.

A rare sight, this rain. The drought ravaged region definitely needs the wet stuff.

But a rarer sight this morning was a quick glance at the NHL standings. The Panthers, the FLORIDA Panthers, are not only sitting in second place in the mighty Southeast Division, they are knocking on the door and ready to move into a tie for first.

You heard right bunko; The Panthers are a win away from tying the Carolina Wolfpack for first place in the division.

Got some good stuff from Radek Dvorak about this last night, but I haven't transcribed the tape and it's too noisy here at Atlanta's Hartfield Jackson Chipper Jones Dominique Wilkins Hank Aaron Chicken Man Sonny Purdue International Airport. Once I go through the tape -- OK, it's digital -- will post here.

The Panthers are feeling good about themselves right now, and why not. Are they winning pretty? No. But they are getting the job done. Do you realize the Panthers have gotten points in seven of the past eight games. And the only game they lost in regulation during this recent stretch came to the best team in hockey -- the Red Wings.

-- I thought Mack Brown was a goofball until I heard his stepson interviewed on ESPN after the Holiday Bowl. Goodness.

-- Speaking of ESPN, nice shirt Hank. Seriously, talk about an outfit made for radio...

-- Don't know who is in net tonight. Would bet on Vokoun, but you never know with JM.

-- If the Panthers win tonight, JM moves to 10th all-time on the NHL wins list. Getting in some rarefied air right now, starting to pass some big names.

December 27, 2007

Searching for Bobby (Not Bowden)

Petrino_4 ATLANTA -- While in Atlanta, figured I would do something meaningful this afternoon while waiting for the hockey game to start.

Walked around downtown hoping to find first-year Falcons coach Bobby Petrino for a story I'm doing about being forthright, honest and just plain being a man of character. Was told he doesn't work here anymore, that he up and took off in the middle of the night for some gig in Arkansas.

Found that surprising. I always thought Petrino was one of the most loyal people in the game of football. Him jumping from one job to another, well, it shocked me. So much so, I called old pal Michael Vick to get his take on the deal, but his cellphone has been disconnected. Guess I'll get him next time I'm here.

Thinking of talking to Nick Saban about that story now. Anyone got his Fort Lauderdale number?

-- Speaking of football, congrats to Blanche Ely defensive back Patrick Johnson for being named USA Today's Defensive Player of the Year. There were a few South Floridians on the first-team, including Cardinal Gibbons kicker Blair Walsh and Northwestern's Marcus Fortson. Booker T. Washington coach Tim Harris was the Coach of the Year. Great honor for all of them.

-- Also, Tomas Vokoun was named to The Miami Herald's All-Broward hockey team. He beat out a kid from St. Thomas Aquinas for the honor. Congrats to Tomas. Sure he's very proud.

-- The inside of Philips Arena looks nice and crisp today. Why? Because workers spent time actually putting fresh paint on the steps and floor of the arena instead of just mopping it. The folks at BankAtlantic Center might think about doing this as well. Those floors look nasty as all get out. Seriously gross and funky. Just doesn't look sanitary. Am I the only one who thinks this?

-- Just saw Bill Parcells on ESPN. Didn't know he worked there...

-- In hockey news, Kari Lehtonen in net against Panthers, and why not. Lehtonen played last night (2-0 loss to CBUS) but is money against Florida lately. He's beaten the Cats once this year, was 6-1-1 against FLA last year with two shutouts. Lifetime record against FLA: 11-2-1.

I don't care who you are, that's pretty good...

-- Panthers get two here in the first...11 game losing streak in ATL on the line...

-- That Craig Anderson is quite the comedian. Asked him his New Year's resolution and his reply was quick and humorous. "To say no to drugs,'' he deadpanned, "and to stay away from the yellow snow.'' Then he gave me a thoughtful answer, one we will run in Sunday's edition of the Herald.

If you have a guess to what it was, or want to leave your resolution, do so below in the comment section. Like Bluto said at the beginning of Animal House: "Don't cost nothin'.''

-- JM's resolution? "It's only December 27th!" True that. And we will not be running that one.

Good Morning 'ATL' -- UPDATED

Pepsi_2 ATLANTA -- Hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday break, got some nice presents and ate some good food.

I sure did.

That said, it's time to get back to work, and by work, I mean watching hockey. May not sound like much to you, but it sometimes pays my bills.

In the 'ATL' right now, getting ready for the Panthers practice at Philips Arena. The Panthers may feel they are in a haunted house everything they come to the 'ATL' and that's going to happen when you've lost 11 straight to the same opponent in the same building.

If this keeps up, Olli Jokinen might have to turn down an invitation to play in the All-Star Game.

But I think the Panthers come out and play hard tonight and actually snap this funk in the 'ATL.' Yep, I'm bending that limb by saying Florida wins tonight, losing streak comes to a close.

Of course, the 'Thrashers' played pretty crummy last night in Columbus and are ready to make a statement. And they are ready to make it against the Panthers.

-- Anthony Stewart is back with the Panthers, called up after last night's Americans' game against the Toronto Marlboro Lights. I hope the Panthers let Anthony keep his frequent flier miles. His are adding up quicker than mine these days.

-- Don't know how many people flew yesterday, but I've decided flying out late on heavy travel days is the way to go. Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International at Dania Beach near Miami Gardens which is close to Opa-locka Airport was close to being empty last night. At least Terminal 2 was, that is. And my flight to the 'ATL' was pretty lonely. Not a full row on the plane. Got to love that...

-- Holy Jokinen! that was a quick post to the blog...anyway, no on Booth tonight and probably tomorrow. I would expect to see him back in the lineup Sunday against the Flyers. Will check on him at practice today.


-- Just got back from practice -- well, we detoured and went to Ted's Montana Grill for lunch. Quite good. I've always liked Ted Turner's TV networks, and he makes some good grub to boot.

Anyway, Booth went through the whole practice, but JM says he's still out. Anthony Stewart back on the fourth line with Tanner Glass and Kamil Kreps. The trio played pretty good the other night, and JM says they play hard, they bring something to the table, they get ice time. Saturday against Toronto, all three got extended time for the first time in a while. We'll see what happens tonight.

-- Panthers say less than 100 lower bowl tickets available for tomorrow's game against the Canadiens. The team is now selling 300 standing room only tickets for the low, low price of 30 bucks. How much? 'Bout 30 man!

The team is also discounting its premium seats for the Sunday game against Philly by 20 percent. Don't really know what that means, but if interested, check out the team website for more info.

Hockey or Dolphins....hockey or Dolphins...

Not much of a choice, eh? OK, I plan on watching the Phins on TV before the hockey game. Best of both worlds...

-- Speaking of Dolphins, Bill Parcells meets with the media today at 6 in Davie. Good times, I'm sure.

December 22, 2007

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.

Hoot Owls, Hoot

HootersGot to give it to Howard and the FAU Owls for winning their first bowl game in school history Friday night in New Orleans.

Hard to believe this team only kicked off seven years ago. I covered that first game at JRS when the Owls took on mighty Slippery Rock and got, well, rocked. The day started with FAU handing us a long list of players who couldn't play because of a computer error that made them ineligible. Ugly game.

But, as he usually did, Howard rallied the troops and got things rolling up there in Boca. They beat Bethune Cookman, Middle Tennessee, Hawaii. This year, they pulled one heck of an upset by going to Troy for the season finale and winning. That gave the Owls a conference title and a bowl bid.

Howard Hope to see FIU in a bowl game one of these days. You never know.

Anyway, congrats to coach Schnellenberger for the big win. It may be a minor bowl, but it's a big step for a young program.

-- Speaking of old pals, word is Larry Coker has interviewed for the vacant SMU job. Dennis Franchione, he of Texas AM/Alabama/TCU fame, is also in the running.

Coker While Larry has a few things Dennis doesn't -- a national championship ring, a nice Rose Bowl watch -- I think if Franchione wants the job, he's getting it. And after a year or two, he'll be gone again. Franchione obviously has Texas ties and, aside from recruiting kids from Texas for the U, Coker doesn't.

-- Heading to BAC now. Hockey news in our next installment, I promise.

December 21, 2007

Hockey Night in South Florida

Hnic1 It's not often that Canada's biggest television sensation this side of Little Mosque on the Prairie, Corner Gas or the the duct tape show* -- yes, Hockey Night in Canada -- originates from the swamplands of Florida, but it is tomorrow.

Which is pretty cool.

Think of tomorrow's game telecast as a two-plus hour infomercial for South Florida tourism. You know they are going to have plenty of shots of the beach, the South Beach nightlife and may even toss in some hockey.

Anything to divert attention from the Maple Leafs who have lost three straight but probably should be riding a two-game winning streak into the 954. Leafs blew a shot at an empty net in Carolina the other night and ended up losing in overtime. Last night, the Bolts snapped their own three-game losing streak by scoring in the final minute to beat the TOs.

The Panthers are a pretty good story these days, what with them being in the thick of the playoff race and within leaping distance of first place in the Southeast Division. The Panthers should be thinking about putting on a good show, at least to keep Don Cherry off their backs for a night.

(*) There really is a show called Little Mosque on the Prairie. It's one of the most popular shows on the CBC. And there is a very popular Canadian show about some dude and duct tape. I forget the name of it. Actually not bad shows. Better than all the stupid reality shows we have here in the states.

And Corner Gas may be corny, but its grown on me.

-- Speaking of goofy TV, yours truly is expected to be on FSN with Craigervini during tomorrow night's telecast. That alone is reason to try and get the CBC feed.

-- Was at practice today. Good vibe around the team these days. Shocking, eh?

-- For those that asked about the mystery pucks and sticks on sale tomorrow, Ali from the Panthers Foundation told me they can be purchased outside of Section 134. That's in the lower level. And, again, it's for a good cause.

-- Carolina's Justin Williams probably messed up his knee pretty good when Rostislav Olesz inadvertently fell on him last night. Williams didn't travel with the team to Tampa Bay and instead went back to Raleigh. Williams has a history of knee problems.

-- David Booth did not practice today, he's out against the Leafs. JM hopes he can come back by the Atlanta game.

-- Also, those of you interested can watch tomorrow's morning skate at the BAC. Gots to go through Pantherland to do so. Also, Cats are scheduled to practice at 11 a.m. at Incredible Ice on Boxing Day -- err, Dec. 26.

-- Speaking of Boxing Day, the World Juniors kick off that day. Any interest down here? I love watching the World Juniors. Lots of exciting games. NHL Network is going to be carrying a lot of those games in the states. More coverage than usual, anyways.

December 20, 2007

Storm Warning

CanesignDo the Panthers leave or do they stay?

Hurricane warning flags are up throughout South Florida.

But enough about the nationally-ranked University of Miami basketball team.

The hockey team from Tobacco Road is in town, ready to take another win back to North Carolina. Will the Panthers stop them this time? Carolina has owned the Everglades cats ever since the end of the lockout. Carolina won five of eight in 2005-06, seven of eight last year, and three of the first four this season.

If the Panthers are going to be considered a realistic threat to win this conference, they're going to have to get past Carolina. And beating Atlanta a few more times wouldn't hurt either.

-- David Booth skated today before practice, but is out once more.

-- According to JM, Mike Van Ryn had some ligament repair on his right wrist, and get this, is expected to be back within eight to 10 weeks. Nice if true, will talk to Mike tonight hopefully.

-- Also, JM says nothing was found during Cory Murphy's bone scan of his injured shoulder. Still, no one knows when he'll come back.

-- For those of you who still need to do some shopping, good luck finding parking at Sawgrass. Tip: Go tomorrow morning if you must. After lunch, the place is a zoo.

December 18, 2007

Youppi! says Joyeux Noel...

YouppisantaMONTREAL -- Just ran into On Frozen Pond's second favorite former Expos employee (Pete Rose is first, Andre Dawson third and The Crow is fourth). Call me homey!

Anyway, old Youppi wanted me to pass along his warmest holiday wishes. And I told him I would. Listen, when you give a furry mascot your word, you better stick to it mister.

Youppi They'll haunt your dreams. I'm serious. I once lied to Burnie, the Heat's mascot, about something and I'm just now getting over it. Will never do that again.

-- Just got word that Mike Van Ryn had surgery today on his right wrist. Proceedure was done at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, but that's all we know right now. I love Baltimore, and should have given Mike my list of places to hit in Charm City.

Sure, he's probably in no mood to head out, but I think a trip to Nacho Mamas in Canton would have put him in a better mood.

It always does the trick for me.

-- Panteros up 2-0 after the first period. Doesn't look like they came out flat tonight. And don't forget, the team is staying here tonight after the game. If they win, watch out Montreal. Cats on the prowl....

-- This is by far the most passionate 'Kiss Cam' I've ever seen. I haven't seen this much tongue on the JumboTron since my last KISS concert....

-- Nathan Horton went off the ice briefly in the second. He's back. Either a skate problem or a bathroom break.

-- Panthers lead in lancers 15-12.

-- Lancer is French for 'touchdown.' Or shot. I get confused.

A Tropical Heat Wave

Beachpool_2 MONTREAL -- Having a good old time in balmy, tropical Quebec today, getting ready for the big beach volleyball match between the locals and the visitors from chilly South Florida.

It's currently 10 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a big difference from the minus-12 it was when I was strolling around town last night.

Just got back from another fun adventure in the snow, and am proud to say I have yet to slip on any ice. That's coming, of course, but it hasn't happened yet. Just had a famous smoked meat sandwich at Reubens on St. Catherines Street and a nice hot chocolate courtesy of Goldie and am more ready to nap than to work.

But I'm a pro, so I trudge on. Again, for you.

Little bit of news out of practice today, so let's go:

-- David Booth skated today but was the first one off the ice and will not play tonight. The swelling on his right knee is obviously down from Saturday, but he looked slow and he says if he can't go 100 percent "I can't play my game.'' No timetable, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him Thursday against the Carolina Wolfpack.

-- JM says Cory Murphy recently went and saw a specialist and had a "bone scan" but doesn't know what the results are. I know it ain't much, but it's something new, right?

-- Rumors have it that Montreal is shopping Michael Ryder, and I would think the Panthers have an interest with Ville Peltonen out a substantial -- six/eight weeks -- bit of time with his broken foot. Ryder has scored 30 goals the past two seasons, but is struggling so much this season he's been a healthy scratch. Ryder has three goals and seven assists this season.

Montrealsnow He hasn't scored a goal since Nov. 16 at Buffalo and hasn't so much as recorded a point since getting two helpers against Boston on Nov. 17. Change of scenery -- and some sunshine -- might be what Ryder needs.

-- Carey Price starts in net for the Habs tonight even though Cristobal Huet is active and ready to play.

-- Special thanks to Mitch of FSN for grabbing a cup of coffee from Timmies when he made a run this morning. Class move by a happy Michigan guy.

-- While I am so over the white stuff (as you can see from picture above taken this afternoon), you folks in South Florida might just want to see some this Holiday season. So, the Panthers are hooking you up. Saturday, before the Leaves game, the Panthers are going to have a holiday village complete with a mountain of snow. According to the Panthers, 10 tons are going to be dumped on the walkway. Most of which, I assume, they got from here. The holiday village opens at 5.

Also, if you need tix for Saturday's game, you better get 'em quick. Panthers say only 1500 are left. A sellout is obviously expected.

But if you don't have tickets and just want to play in the snow, be my guest. Remember, parking is free...

December 17, 2007

The Big 6-0-0

Keenan2MONTREAL -- Greetings from the old Spanish city where the temperature is expected to drop to minus 12 tonight.

And that's Fahrenheit my friend, not some wimpy minus-12 Celsius.

Hope all you folks bundled up in South Florida (low today: 53) read that minus-12 and shivered a bit. And then felt bad for me because I'm here braving this frozen tundra for you, the loyal hockey reader of The Miami Herald.

Truth be told, I kinda like it. Went walking around town today, did some window shopping. Couldn't do any real shopping, what with the Montreal prices about as obscene as their temps. Went into Foot Locker and saw a nice pair of Nike Shox. Being a Nike guy who likes finding deals, I checked the price tag. No deal here! They were $215 CA.

And that doesn't count all the different Canadian taxes you have to pay, like: Provincial tax, General Services tax, Nike Shox being misspelled tax, me being from Florida tax, a 'Jeffrey Loria ruined the Expos and you Floridians are paying for it' tax, the 'hey, you're not David J. Neal' tax, and of course, the 'you've been speaking English and not French since you walked in, so we're tossing on another Province tax' tax.

All told, those Nikes would have cost about $575 in U.S. dollars. I passed, only because they wanted to charge me an additional tax for using my Visa card instead of a MasterCard.

-- Back to the original topic: Congratulations are in order to Mike Keenan, who became only the sixth coach in NHL history to win 600 games. Keenan did it last night, and did it in one of his old cities. This one: St. Louis.

Got to hand it to Keenan and the Flames, they are playing some real good -- I mean, real good -- hockey right now. The new top line of Jarome Iginla, Kristian Huselius and Daymond Langcow have been brutally unstoppable. And five wins to kick off a six game road trip? That's sick.

-- PSA for the Panthers: The good folks at the Panthers Foundation are selling autographed pucks and mini sticks just in time to give as stocking stuffers or as 'official' Christmas gifts if you get the right player. Seriously. You get an Olli Jokinen or Tomas Vokoun or George Richards autograph, and that one you're wrapping up and getting full credit for. That don't go in the stocking.

Here's the deal. The fund raiser will be at Saturday's Leafs game. Mystery sticks are $30; pucks are $20. Get one autographed in gold and you keep the puck/stick and get an additional prize. All money goes to charity, so get a couple. Tell 'em Uncle George sent ya.

-- Minus 12 people. Wrap your mind around that for a minute. MINUS TWELVE...

-- Speaking of being cold, had lunch today in what used to be a castle. Had the rotisserie chicken. Figure that's what they ate back in castle times.

-- When it's too cold to walk to Timmies, you know it's cold.

-- In hockey news, Cory Murphy is expected to be back for tomorrow's practice and may play against the Canadiens. Actually, I made that up. I have no new news on Murph the Surf. He's not here, he hasn't practiced, so I can't see him playing until after Christmas, maybe even after New Years.

-- Good thing the Panthers aren't playing Friday what with FAU being in the Nawlins Bowl. Hoot Owl, Hoot!

December 16, 2007

In Memoriam

Once again, condolences to the Kitchen family after the passing of Bill Kitchen last week.

The Panthers sent out a little note regarding Mr. Kitchen's services. I thought many of you Florida fans would be interested. Here is what the Panthers sent out:

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Bill Kitchen, 74, father of Assistant Coach Mike Kitchen.

Visitation and funeral services will be held on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 from 1:00-3:00pm at the Schomberg Community Arena (251 Western Avenue - Schomberg, Ontario L0G 1T0 / 905-939-7751).  Celebration of life to follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:

Southlake Regional Health Centre Cancer Clinic
Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation
615 Davis Drive, Suite 304
Newmarket, Ontario L3Y 2R2
(905) 836-7333

You may also make your donation on-line at the following link from their website:


Jacques Martin

Daaaaaaaa Cats.....

Superfans CHICAGO -- Greetings from United Center, where the Panthers and Blackhawks both come in after playing -- and losing -- last night.

Little bit of news out of Panthers today, and am not going to bore you with the patented LIVE BLOG, not with Denis, Goldie, Mike., Mitch and Kenny back on the job.

Ville Peltonen will be out the next few weeks with a broken foot. Instead of calling a guy up, Brett McLean -- so happy yesterday and now I can see why -- gets back in the lineup. He's been out with a broken right hand since Nov. 13.

Also, JM throws a curve, puts Tomas Vokoun in net. Not only is Craig Anderson rested and ready, this would be his homecoming game. Vokoun got quite the workout last night in Detroit, but is a workhorse, so let the man plow.

JM also told us that Mike Van Ryn is going to have arthroscopic surgery in Baltimore this week. They still don't know what's wrong with his wrist, but it ain't good. Word was Ryno was probably out for the season, and while I hope that isn't true for his sake, wouldn't be surprised if that is indeed the final tally.

Celebrate Tonight

ShulaCHICAGO -- What a day for football, eh?

Not only do the Browns win, but the Ravens lose. And they lose to the Dolphins, which is no small feat.

Congrats to the Dolphins, staying true to their hokey song by winning their first game of the season. Mi-a-mi Dolphins No. 1? Indeed.

And you just have to love the twist of fate. Not only were the 1972 Perfectos in the building for today's  Miami victory, but it came on the 35th anniversary of the 1972 team finishing its regular season without a blemish. They only played 14 games back then.

The team Miami beat to go to 14-0 way back on Dec. 16, 1972 in the Orange Bowl?


Believe it or not, they were called the Colts back then. I think Matt Stover was still their kicker though.

-- To keep this thread somewhat hockey related, talked to Olli tonight about the Dolphins game. He was very happy for his football playing pals, although it did cost him. "For the first time in five weeks I didn't pick them to win in the pool,'' Jokinen said with a smile. "First time. But I'm real glad for them. They needed that. They deserved a win.''

-- And as far as I know, the "pool" Jokinen is talking about is for entertainment purposes only. I, of all people, would never advocate wagering of any kind. Last I heard, the football pool consisted of S&H green stamps collected from Publix.

-- Remember those? Your old like me if you do.

The Snowy City

Detroitsnowday2CHICAGO -- Well, finally made it to the Second City, the City of Broad Shoulders, home of the deep dish pizza.

Man am I glad to be out of Detroit.

No offense to anyone in Motown, but I had my doubts this morning. The roads were snowy and snarled, thanks in great part to the snow that fell all night and in small part to a complete lack of salt trucks or snow plows anywhere in sight. You would think a major interstate would take plow priority, no?

Finally fought our way to the airport and found the United Airlines employees both friendly and helpful. Seriously. The United folks were as good and as nice as I've ever dealt with, completely destroying their reputation! Not only did they get us through quickly, but one heads-up gate worker grabbed us and put us on an earlier flight.

Now it's hockey time....

-- The big storm finally blew through Chicago (and is now pounding Cleveland Browns Stadium) and left plenty of snow and a pretty day behind. There isn't a cloud in the sky. Very picturesque.

-- Expecting to see Craig Anderson in net for his homecoming game. He beat the Hawks here in the preseason, figure he gets another shot tonight. Will update after meeting with JM at 6 p.m. MT (Miami Time).

December 15, 2007

Live from Joe Louis Arena

JoelouisDETROIT -- Yep, that's me sitting on the Red Wings bench after today's morning skate. Thanks to Rostislav Olesz for volunteering to snap the photo with my Treo.

Good photog, that Rusty.

Anyways, we're along the chilled banks of the Detroit River getting ready for an exciting night of hockey in the Motor City. Since tonight's game isn't being televised back home on local TV, I will perform my usual local service of LIVE BLOG.

As long as the Internet stays up, that is.

-- We're all staying at the Renaissance Center, the global headquarters of GM. Signed a lease on a new Pontiac this morning. Good times.

-- Randy Moller and Bill Lindsay just refused my offer of Reese's Pieces. I'm actually pretty offended. Lindsay says he's full from all the "Pizza, pizza.'' Moller's excuse? "I'm driving tonight.'' Punks.

-- Big turnout at the Joe for this morning's skate. Only the folks never came in to watch hockey. The reason for the gathering? Hannah Montana tickets were going on sale.

-- Those of you at home, feel free to update me with scores of the Miami Northwestern state championship game being broadcast on FSN. Really would appreciate it. Just leave the scores in the comment section. Seriously!

-- E.T. was really onto something. These Reese's Pieces might be the most perfect candy ever made! I bet they go great with a Diet Dr. Pepper.

-- And the teams are on the ice...will be getting underway here sooner than later...

-- Couple ex-Cats on the injury list today. Chris Gratton is out the next couple weeks with a hip injury, and the Sharks put Alexei Semenov on the DL with a broken finger. Both players played for the Cats last season and are good friends of On Frozen Pond. We wish them speedy recoveries.

-- FSN Detroit now showing home videos of David Booth as a kid playing hockey here in the Detroit area...

-- Flights being canceled all over O'Hare...might be staying a little longer in Motown...

-- Joe Nieuwendyk is here, fresh from Fort Laud...says the weather's a touch nicer there...again: punk.

-- B.B. King is here in February...Foo Fighters too....

-- GAME ON..

-- Still scoreless, few minutes into the game...Detroit just had a few chances, nothing major tho...16:05 left...

-- Det on the PP; Mezei to box for holding @ 5:03...

-- Shots on goal: DET 6-0

-- Make it a 5-on-3; Salei in for hooking...5/3 for 1:15...shots now 9-0


-- Shots? 13-0...

-- Gordie Howe in the house....which is pretty cool...

-- Panthers took a shot! The Panthers took a shot!

-- And Osgood finally makes a real save...Radek with a nice wrister w/ 7 minutes left...shots: 14-2

-- Timeout with 2:43 left...shots now 15-6...Panthers showing a little spark in the Det zone...

-- Speaking of Detroit, saw Wayne Fontes yesterday. Jerry Mcguire was on TV...


-- According to my boy Frank E. DeMarzo, someone proposed on the field at the state football championships. Oy. She should have said no.

-- Thanks Paul... never feel alone as long as I have my blog...and drscruf, thanks for the MNW update...and I would much rather be here watching the Wings thank you very much..

-- Game On again....big save by Vokoun here in the early goings of the second...

-- Patrick Kane scores early in his homecoming game in Buffalo...looking forward to seeing this Chicago team...


-- Olesz and Zednik almost get another...Ozzy made a great save there...


-- Seriously, what a great place to watch a game. If you're a hockey fan, you got to get tix and see a game here...just feels right....

-- If you come up on Dec. 28 or 29, get 4 tix and 4 pieces of Little Caesers for $44...don't know who they are playing, but I'm thinking that's a pretty good deal...

-- Florida penalty on Salei..delay at 7:35.

-- Red Wings score, basicially off 5/3...Rusty took a shot in the foot, couldn't move...play never stops...Rusty helped off ice @ 8:58 after goal scores..Johan Franzen with the goal, PS....

-- Panthers look fired up...three shots on goal after the Detroit goal...

-- Thanks Drscruf for the update...by the way, Bulls up 14-0 on Orlando Boone...love Montreal by the way..

-- OK, Florida on its first power play of the night @ 10:40 of the second...lets see what happens next..

-- That didn't last long...Salei heads back to the box...its going to be 4-on-4...PP lasted just 39 seconds..

-- Denis Potvin in the house, just flew in...happy Northwestern High is winning...

-- Poor Boone...always have to play South Florida teams be it football or basketball...now 21-0....

-- Det back on power play...Zednik into the box for slashing w/ 2 mins left...

-- Even things up...Detroit's Filppula into the tank with 41.4 left...Panthers will be on PP when we return in the third...


-- To HG: sorry you are stuck in Ohio. And you know I did not seriously call Joe New a punk...

-- Classic music played here at the Joe. Just hear music from 'Oliver!' as well as 'We are the World.' Love this barn. Seriously.

-- Injury update: Peltonen has a bum foot, out the rest of the day at least...X-Rays on Olesz's ankle negative, he should return to the game...

-- Big news around here is they have sold over 10,000 hot dogs at a buck a piece. Bigger news: I didn't have one.

-- To Drs: Don't have to worry about getting mugged, I have Brian Biggane to protect me. To HG: Yes, the MetroRail thing still runs but we don't know where to pick it up at. And it's really cold. So we're taking a cab.


-- Wings kill off penalty...

-- Campbell just had two chances in close...not as close as Horton at the end of the second, but close...

-- Now playing the Fat Boys...classic stuff....

-- Crap bought on this trip: GM Detroit t-shirt; Detroit Rock City t-shirt...

-- And yes, plan to add a Miami NW National Championship shirt to the collection...see what JM says about that one...


-- Det back on PP; Montador in the box w/ 13:27 left...

-- And it's 9 o'clock on a Saturday, regular crowd shuffles in....

-- And that's probably that....


-- Penalty shot...Datsyuk leg blocked by Vokoun...still only 4-2...

-- Northwestern now up 35-0...a South Florida big-school sweep...sweet...

--OK, it's 5-2 now with 7:35 left...when was the last time you saw two penalty shots in a game, much less a five-minute span? Anyway, this one is over. I'm going to start working, you know, help out my copy desk by filing a little bit early.

Been fun blogging with you as always. Hope you come back tomorrow. Figure I'll be stuck in Detroit's wonderful Metro airport (flying United so stuck in the crummy World War II hanger) all day trying to get to Chicago. Maybe there will be a special airport blog.

One can only hope.

Good night folks, drive careful. Hope to see you next from the Windy City, err, Big Apple.

Congrats to Northwestern and Booker T.

Stay Classy, San Diego....

(*) PS: They sold close to 12,000 hot dogs tonight...Lots of pride with that...they also had a dog adoption, which was cool...lot of cute pooches finding good homes tonight hopefully...

(*) Yes, HG, anything by J. Giles on the organ is going to sound odd. Did they have the camera clicking?