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37 posts from January 2008

January 31, 2008

Bad Night for the Cats

Thursday wasn't kind to your Florida Bobcats (old Arena football reference for ya).

Not only did Florida slip farther back in the standings with Carolina and Washington winning, but the Lightning won and are now just two points back of the Cats.

And to make matters worse, here comes a very desperate - if not very good - Vancouver team.

Yes, these Panthers could be sellers very soon.

Perhaps I Spoke Too Soon

Lightning lead the Luongos 4-2 with less than seven minutes left to play. Old pal Chris Gratton with a goal for the Bolts.

Fridays with Louie

Louie1Big game on the schedule tomorrow, the Fighting Luongos traveling all the way from someplace called 'British Columbia' to play the slinking Panthers.

The Canucks have been struggling of late, losing seven of nine.

The good news for them, of course, is they've been granted a Florida Furlough AKA the Florida Four-point Swing. The good old days of teams getting a few days off to relax in the Sunshine State are back.

Tampa Bay and the Panthers have simply become speed bumps. Only a few teams -- Ottawa of note -- have slipped up of late. Neither team, it seems, can win at home anymore.

Coming into tonight's game, Tampa Bay has lost seven of their past eight at home. The Panthers? Everyone knows that story. Twelve of the past 15 games on home ice have gone the way of the visitor. Must be tough being a salesperson trying to make a living on this product.

-- Olli missed practice today, still fighting the stomach bug. Sure he'll be back out there tomorrow. Olli's consecutive game streak stands tall at 346 straight games. Not too shabby, eh? Last game Olli missed? Dec. 23, 2002 against Nashville. Also because of flu-like symptoms.

-- Here's some stuff gleaned from recent conversations:

Luongo:  “My feelings are not the same as they were the last time,’’ he said. “I had some pent-up anger. That’s over and done with. I’ve moved on and am excited to play. I hope to get a good reception.’’

“It’s been tough in regards to not being with my wife,’’ Luongo said. “With the exception of a couple of weeks in November, and I came down for two days at Christmastime. Aside from that, we’ve been apart. It’s nice to spend time with her and her family, especially quality time before the baby’s born.’’

“He did a lot for this team and this organization on and off the ice. No one worked harder,’’ friend and former teammate Stephen Weiss said. “He gave more of himself and expect nothing but full applause [from Florida fans]. But once the game starts, he’s on the other team.’’

Then this: “I think it’s going to be real emotional for him,’’ said Olli Jokinen, who came to Florida along with Luongo in a trade from the Islanders in 2000. “He’s going to have a lot of friends out there.’’

(*) The Panthers are selling this game hard, even giving out as many as 25 flat-screen TVs. Here’s the deal: they have a couple sponsors (Sharp, a local electronics retailer) and are giving out five sets before the game.

If Florida’s offense plays the way it has, that’ll be it. For every goal (up to four) Florida scores, five more TVs go out to some lucky fans.

“We have to make sure it’s a lot of TVs,’’ Olli Jokinen said.

(*) Speaking of fun: Tomas Vokoun faced at least 40 shots for the third straight game Wednesday. He made 43 saves in a victory over Ottawa, and stopped 37 of 40 in a shootout loss to Edmonton. Wednesday, he stopped 40 of 41 in a loss to Buffalo.

In Sunday's All-Star Game, he faced 20 shots in the second period, giving up two goals. By my math, he would have faced 60 shots if he played the whole game. Luongo can relate.

January 30, 2008

Olli's Out

Nurse The flu bug that has hit the Carolina and Buffalo dressing rooms seems to have moved south.

Olli Jokinen is out of tonight's game, but according to Panthers authorities, it's nothing serious. Just flu-like symptoms.

Which suck.

-- So, which is the team that played last night and which is the one that has had a week off?

Buffalo Chips

BuffaloEver been to Buffalo Wild Wings? It's a sports bar chain, big in the Midwest, creeping south (think there is one in Orlando). Anyway, they call their fries 'buffalo chips.' And they're good.

That's all I got.

-- JM says Stumpel and Mezei  can play tonight, and it looks like they will.

Speaking of snow: Anthony Stewart, sent back last week just to be called back on Monday, was sent back today. He travels more than I do, and I wasn't sure that was possible.

-- Saw a certain Vancouver goalie at Incredible Ice today. Louie heads to Tampa today on an afternoon flight then comes back tomorrow. Says this meeting against the Panthers is going to be different to him because "I don't have so much pent up anger" as he did last time.

Yeah, Louie seemed a little bitter that day I spoke to him in Vancouver. Today, though, it's as if the trade never happened. And after he plays at Sunrise on Friday, it'll officially be time to move on.

-- Those who have emailed me complaining that I brought Olli Jokinen into this Finnish drug story unnecessarily have to know that Olli is a small part of this story -- which, sorry to tell you, is news. Even here. And the only reason I mentioned Ville Peltonen in the story is because he and Jere Karalahti have been teammates numerous times.

The bottom line: Olli was trying to help out a friend who obviously had been lying to him. Olli is not the first person to be burned by loaning money to a friend, and he won't be the last. At least it wasn't a big sum of cash because I don't think Jere is going to be able to pay him back.

Story is here: drugs are bad, um-kay

January 28, 2008

Called Up

Anthony Stewart and Tanner Glass both called up today...

January 27, 2008

It's an All-Star Sunday

Allstaratl ATLANTA -- The big game is still a week away, but at least we get some All-Star hockey.

Just listened to the Hives, a band from Sweden who sound pretty good despite their sound being a little distorted. Going to ask Magnum about these cats. Might have to check them out on iTunes as well.

I missed the Old 97s the other night, Usher too. All told, the music scene here in Atlanta has been pretty good. So has been the food and hospitality. All in all, a good All-Star Game experience for this guy.

And the in-house guy keeps dropping that the game is in Blueland. I wish they'd give that one a rest.

-- I'm sure I've written this before since we're in Atlanta every other week, but did you know Ted Turner has his own banner hanging from the rafters here? Actually, Ted's fingerprints are on just about every thing in this town. It's deserved. The Widespread Panic banner touting 17 sellouts? Not so much.

-- I also like Ted's Montana Grill. And TBS. Don't like the Braves.

-- Sign of the Times: Shaq and D-Wade are no longer the poster boys of the NBA All-Star Game. The large TNT billboard outside Philips touts LeBron, Kobe and Nash.

-- And congrats to the Heaters for finally snapping their losing streak last night. Was getting worried about them surpassing the 1988 losing streak to start the franchise.

-- Tomas Vokoun got a mixed response when introduced to the crowd. Hey, it's Blueland after all.

-- Still quite a few empty seats in the building....just saying...

-- Sounds like there are quite a few Wings fans in the house. They're getting a lot of love. Have also seen a lot of Calgary sweaters around town and in the hotel. They love their hockey in Keenantown...

-- The Wings contingency came to ATL in style. Parked at the Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Chik-Fil-A Coke Zero Ted Turner Peachtree Ilya Kovalchuk International Airport was the Detroit Red Wings/Tigers jet. Not as nice as Air Huizenga, but pretty cool.

Pavel -- Luke D from Raleigh just asked me where Pavel Bure was. The Rocket was actually featured in a segment on Alex Ovechkin that played on the big screen before the game...

-- Tomas Vokoun now in for the East...has made a couple saves, almost gave up a goal as he misplayed a puck (remember Thursday?) and then made a kick save while getting back into the crease. East still leads 5-1.

-- T-Vo gives up a goal to Rick Nash, then makes a great save on Marian Gaborik while laying on his stomach. Afterward, Vokoun and Gabby trade high-fives. It was a nice save.

Atlflames -- Calgary mascot Harvey the Hound is wearing a Flames jersey today. An ATLANTA Flames jersey. Very cool.

-- T-Vo has faced 18 shots this period. He must be thinking "what, is this a Panthers game?"

-- The second is coming to a close, the East still leading...

-- Did you know the Atlanta Hawks were once the St. Louis Hawks? Good for you if you did. No prizes today.

-- Ilya Kovalchuk picked up a loose puck and was off the races in the final seconds...got off a great shot, but a spectacular save by Evgeni Nabokov keeps the East off the board. Great buzz in the building for that. That's what the All-Star Game is all about. Anywho, 5-3 East as we head into the second break.

Allstarice -- Ne-Yo performing on the ice now, backed by a 50-plus member marching band. Ever see a band high-step it on a hockey rink? I have now. Pretty good sound, even better visual.

-- Props to the NHL for realizing the mid-week All-Star experiment last year in Dallas was a big mistake. A lot more buzz surrounding this game for sure.

I'm already excited about next year's All-Star affair in Montreal. The Habs are celebrating 100 years of hockey next season and it's going to be quite the celebration.

-- Don't forget, the Panthers get back at it on Wednesday, playing host to Buffalo at the Big Bank. The team returns to practice tomorrow, might be nice to get the kids at school and head over. It's a late start, 3 p.m., so plenty of time to get over there. As always, it's free admission at Incredible Ice. Bring something to get autographs. The guys are pretty accommodating. Don't expect Vokoun to be out there though. I think he gets tomorrow off.

January 26, 2008


TomasallstarATLANTA -- Just got done talking with Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun after his stint in the SuperSkills/YoungStars Game here at Alyssa Milano Arena in downtown Atlanta.

Here are Tomas' thoughts on what transpired tonight.

"It's, you know, the skill competition,'' he said laughing. "It was fun. You stand around for a while, but it was fun for the fans. I think the best was the end, where guys came up with all the different moves. That got a pretty good ovation.''

G: I think they should put celebrities on goal for the breakaway challenge.

TVo: "It should be without goalies. You don't want to pokecheck, don't want to do anything while the guys are out there doing wild stuff. Going backward and stuff. You pokecheck him there in the skate and he falls and cracks his skull. It just shows you how much skill those guys have, what they can do on the ice with a really thin stick. It's pretty amazing.''

Steve X: Would you like to see the goalies get a chance to shoot?

TVo: "I think we picked the right two guys. I'm the worst out of them. They picked the right one.''

G: What if Stumpel is in net (Vokoun and Stumpel switched places after practice a few weeks back)?

TVo: "If he has a player's stick and it's all one-timers, maybe. It was good. You do it and try and stay warm so you don't get hurt.''

Steve X: Tough facing all those rushes in the YoungStars Game no?

TVo: "It's tough because you sit around for a while and everything is uncontrollable, there's no defense. You just have to be careful when they come back and forth. You don't want to get injured. I was just trying to stay warm and enjoy it. It's not a big deal, like I said this morning. It's not about goals and who wins. It's about having fun. That's how you have to approach it.''

G: Most fun you had tonight?

TVo: "Just talking to guys, watching them do their stuff. Being part of it is the fun thing. It's a chance to see a lot of guys I play with or know and be able to talk to them.''

G: Strange being in this [Atlanta's] locker room? I'm sure it would be a lot stranger if it was Olli (since he's been in the visitor's room here about 1,436 times)...

TVo: "I don't look at it that way. We're all, guys play hard. You don't hold grudges against this guy or that guy. You play hard in the games you play, that's war. But afterward, you respect the guys who do their job. Sometimes you hate the guy who does well because it makes it tougher on you.

"You might say I could be home, sitting by the pool [this weekend], but 10 years from now I'll look back at this weekend and say 'I was at the All-Star Game and I did this or that.' That's pretty cool I think.''

G: You missed Alyssa Milano this morning. You left the interview room then she came in.

TVo: Oh really. She was? That's rough.

The Commish Speaks

CommishATLANTA -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the media Saturday afternoon on the Hawks' practice court and spoke on a number of issues.

Bill Daly and Colin "Soup Sr." Campbell were by Bettman's side and had a few things to add to the festivities as well.

The highlights: As we all knew, four teams are going to open next season at EuroDisney. The Bolts and Rangers will play in Prague, Sens and Pens going to Stockholm. Good for them. Also, the Rangers are going to use their training camp to take on European champ Mattalurg Magnitogorsk in the Victoria Cup.

Bettman -- The NHL says it's trying to be more sensative to the enviroment, Bettman joking "we don't want the ice to melt.''

-- Bettman says the league is playing in front of 92 percent capacity crowds. Not the games I'm going to, Gar. And I'm not ripping Florida, either. I see empty arenas all over the place. Except in Montreal.

-- Bettman says the NHL Network has been well received in the states, and I can't agree more. What a great channel. I love it. You should too.

Alyssa5 -- Alyssa Milano joined us at media day. Didn't know if you'd heard.

-- GB adds parity is great for the league. "You have the hope,'' he said, "you have the expectation that whoever you root for has a chance to do it all.''

-- No update on the sale of the Lightning, although Bettman says he's staying on top of this group more than he did the last one.

-- A dude from a sports radio station in Vegas (Hello Mr. Bettman, this is Jack Smith from 1200 The Ticket and Team in Las Vegas, Nevada and I was wondering...) who asked about the future of hockey on the strip. Nothing new to report, but I know GB is going to get this one done. He knows hockey has to be in Vegas. Has to.

-- GB also had some statistics to say the prices of hockey tickets haven't gone up -- on average -- in five years. I faded out on that one too. I should have asked if parking fees being included in tickets counted in his survey, but didn't. I just now thought of it. Will ask next time I see him.

-- Speaking of numbers, Versus put out a release saying its ratings are up through the first half of the season. Versus has done NHL games since the start of the 2005-06 season and have signed on for three more years. I think they've done a real nice job of covering the game, although they have a ways to go in getting their network into homes. They'll never be ESPN and I think the league needs to be back on the Worldwide Leader sometime soon.

That said, Versus is giving it a great effort and treats the NHL like gold. As I've written before, that's because the NHL is gold compared the junk this network usually shows. Seriously, it's bad.

The good news: Versus ratings are up 50 percent over last year. The bad: They went from a minuscule .2 to a still pretty tiny .3

Total viewership is up 34 percent, from 196K to 262K per game. That's still a very small number but some growth is better than none. More people are watching and that's cool.


She's the Boss AKA Charmed, I'm Sure

Milano1ATLANTA -- Back in the press box at Philips Arena here in a chilled Atlanta. The Hanson Brothers, err Jonas Brothers, just got done playing a concert for their many young fans whose rapid exit made it quite difficult to walk through the arena concourse.

The big news today is, of course, the arrival of Alyssa Milano. She is here promoting her new line of NHL gear that's designed for the female fan.

Ms. Milano was asked how she came about designing sportswear for women, and she said it came out of necessity. She was tired of going into team shops at stadium and finding only men's stuff. She wanted something more girlie, stuff in pink. When I told her I had the same problem, she laughed.

And that's my highlight of the day.

Seriously, though, she's a big sports fan, a season ticket holder to the Dodgers and a big fan of the L.A. Kings. Pre-Gretzky, she boasted to me.  Seems like a nice enough person, seemed to enjoy being the highlight of the press area. She even bumped Eric Staal off NHL Network. When asked about it by Luke D. of the Raleigh News-Observer, Staal quipped "well, she is better looking than me.''

Alyssa4 True that.

-- Am doing some hockey stuff today, talked to a number of the All-Stars not named Milano including Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Dave Strader.

NHL commish Gary Bettman is going to speak to the media here in a little bit, give us his state of the league address. That will probably be the focus of my next post.

-- Tomas Vokoun is here obviously, and spent close to 45 minutes doing interviews. Most of that time was spent talking to one guy who was a close talker. Vokoun's a pro, didn't seem to mind.

Vokounallstar He says he's playing the second period of tonight's YoungStars game, doesn't know what he role will be in tomorrow's All-Star Game. Says he's real happy to be here although he looks and sounds pretty tired. I think he went straight from the arena to the hotel to sleep. Dude's been carrying a heavy workload for the Panthers this season.

If anyone deserves some rest, it's him.

Highlight of the Year

ATLANTA -- Ms. Milano is in the house. And she is the hit of media day. She's also a Dodger fan, and like me, sad the Dodgers are leaving Dodgertown.

More later....

January 25, 2008

Atlanta All-Star

Flames ATLANTA -- Hanging out here in not-so-Hotlanta, doing my thing as a member of the All-Star Game media throng.

Trust me, I haven't done much. Well, I had a bag of pretzels and drank a can of Diet Pepsi (seriously, I'm at a major event in Atlanta and finally found Pepsi to drink).

That's about it.

I did talk to some of the YoungStars, like Broward County's own Sam Gagner (OK, that's a real loose interpretation), David Perron and Nicklas Backstrom. Also talked to Don Waddell. He sends his regards.

-- It's pretty cold here in Peachtree City. Between the cold and the drought, I think they are going to have to replant all the grass in this city. And I'm talking about the grass on the ground.

-- Got an email today from Karen Baird at the University of Alberta -- home of the Zips. Anyway, they have a business professor there named Armann Ingolfsson who teaches management science through simulating NHL hockey games. That's my kind of science!

Anyway, by playing out the rest of the season using current winning percentages, they've figured out which teams are in the playoffs -- and which teams ain't.

Detroit? In. Minnesota? In. Carolina? Could be. The Panthers? Take a guess.

Florida has an 18 percent chance at making hockey's big dance. According to this Alberta computer, Washington and Carolina hover around 44 percent, followed by Florida (18), Atlanta (12) and Tampa Bay (11). The computer says Toronto has only a three percent chance of making the playoffs, so it does make some sense. If you like the BCS computers determining who plays for the national championship, then you should like this. Here are the numbers. Let the crunching begin!


OTT (100 percent chance of making playoffs); PHL (98); NJ (95); MON (93); PIT (92); BOS (79); NYI (55); NYR (45); WSH (44); CAR (43); FLA (18); BUF (16); ATL (12); TBAY (11); TOR (3).


Det (100 percent chance of making playoffs); SJ (98); MIN (90); CAL (75); DAL (70); VAN (66); COL (62); PHX (56); ANA (55); NSH (46); CBUS (43); STL (33); CHI (11); EDM (1); LA (ZERO).


Chilly in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE -- Good morning from my favorite airport located in Charlotte, NC, where I await my connecting flight to Atlanta for the Alyssa Milano All-Star festivities.

Sure some are wondering why I didn't just take a direct flight from Lauderdale, but where's the sense of adventure in that?

Going to be strange being away from the Panthers all this time, and I'm sure they'll miss me.

One would like to see a strong push by this team once they return, would like to see them really take on this challenge of winning the SE and moving into the playoffs.

JM said the Panthers focus has to be on the division. That's why I don't think there was that much consternation in the room after last night's loss. Why would there be? They let a team from the west steal two points, and picked up one themselves. At the end of the day, that'll work.

This team's focus is beating Carolina, Atlanta, Washington. Those are the playoff games for the Panthers.

-- Word is, anger over Olli and Nate skipping out of the team's golf tournament has waned. But, I've been told this won't be forgotten. Both players know better, but the blame is being laid solely on Olli. If he stays at the tournament , the thought is, so does Nathan.

Maybe it's as simple as Olli just doesn't like golf. Or maybe he was sending a message that he's tired of the way things are going these days.

Or maybe he and Nate just wanted to go to Sawgrass Mills, get a smoothie and hit American Eagle. It could be as simple as that.

But I still contend the Panthers aren't trading a 40 goal scorer in his prime who a) happens to be the team captain and b) has two years left on his contract after this season at a pretty decent rate.

Not over a golf tournament, that is.

January 24, 2008

Back on the Farm II

Filed this late Thursday night from my Treo, so it wasn't very long, wasn't very well written. So here's Part II: After the loss to Edmonton, the Panthers sent Tanner Glass back to AHL Rochester, and also sent Shawn Matthias back to his junior team in Belleville, Ontario.

The original post read as if Matthias was going back to Rochester, too, but that was obviously not the case.

Carry on. Eh.

Kentucky Fried Computer

Office_space Greetings from the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, home of your Florida Panthers brought to you by the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek.

Why am I dropping the names of so many sponsors? Because I'm working on a laptop that's property of the Florida Panthers (special thanks to Sziro Jewlery, University Drive - Coral Springs) after my laptop fell victim to a crappy charger that fried the motherboard.

So don't expect me to write anything bad about the Panthers tonight -- unless they really deserve it.

-- As expected, Jozef Stumpel out of the lineup again tonight. We'll see you after the break Stumpy...

-- You too Branislav Mezei...

-- Can I get an Italian Combo? Thanks Panera Bread!

-- Weiss, Booth, Mr. Assist your starters tonight...

-- A special thanks to Justin Copertino and Brian Goldman of the Panthers' PR team for hooking me up with a nice computer to work on tonight. Like driving a new car, this laptop. Maybe they'll take my old one in trade...

-- Did I mention the Panthers are on the Termidor Penalty Kill?

-- And it's Gregory Campbell with his second shorthanded goal of the season. FLA's last three shorthanded goals have come off Soup's stick.

-- Did you know Barry Manilow's coming to town? One of the greatest entertainers around...

Back on the Farm

Field_3 Anthony Stewart has been sent back to Rochester, the Panthers obviously deciding to give 19-year-old rookie Shawn Matthias at least another day with the big boys.

It's apparent Matthias is headed back to juniors, but who knows? If he has a big game tonight, maybe he gets a reprieve. Don't bet on that. Jozef Stumpel looks ready to go and could play tonight although it might be wise to give him the full All-Star break off. Problem then is he might be rusty when he returns.

In the words of JM: "We'll wait and see as the game comes, wait until after the skate.'' Translation: Gamtime decision. Although as is usually the case, the decision has been made.

Stewart's return comes at a good time for the struggling Rochester Americans. The once-proud Amerks are now a shell of their former selves, playing in an empty arena as they've dropped a shocking 22 of 24 games. Stewart needs to go to Rochester and start dominating at that level. He hasn't shown that yet, and the Panthers are concerned. Some told me this last stint with the Panthers was his big chance to show he belongs at this level, and while he played much better, he didn't overwhelm anyone.

-- Just got an email from old pal Eklund. He says Olli ticked someone off in the Panthers front office lately and basically demanded a trade. Says Ek: "I would be shocked if he were still a Panther come Feburary 27. And another big name as well.''

I guess I need to start saying my goodbyes to Olli while he's still here.

Obviously, I'm being sarcastic here.

And I don't know what Olli could have done to anger anyone in this organization. He does everything for the Panthers. They ask, Olli does. On ice, off ice. It doesn't matter. I mean this guy goes to dinners with sponsors. You think he likes that? Think he needs the free meal? No, he's trying to help out this franchise in any way he can. And he is appreciated for his efforts.

Although word that he and Nate Horton left the team's golf tournament very early has ruffled some feathers. I don't think the Panthers are going to deal him away for something like this, although if true, and by all accounts it is, Olli and Nate should apologize. A team function is a team function.

Again, if he does indeed go to ownership and ask for a trade, then that's one thing. And that's the only way I see him being dealt. It has to come from Olli. And I don't think he's reached that point.

And who is the other big name? The Panthers don't have any other big names, unless the thought is if Olli goes, Horton goes to. Don't see that happening. I could see the Panthers making some minor deals near the deadline, which is a month away.

JM is known as being very, very patient and not being too quick to act. If this team is in contention come the trade deadline -- and thanks to being in the weakest division in the league they'd better be -- I think the Panthers make some moves. Very minor ones.

January 23, 2008

Lazy Wednesday

HoundNot a whole lot going on around the Panthers today, spoke to some players about their All-Star weekend plans, doing something on Bo for tomorrow, yada yada.

No news on the injured front. Jozef Stumpel looked good in practice, but he won't be back until next week. Ville Peltonen didn't practice today, so he won't be back until next week either.

Branislav Mezei looks ready to go, but we'll see.

-- FSNF doing a special 'Inside the Panthers' on Denis Potvin. Talks a lot about his days with the Islanders. I didn't even know he played! I just thought he was a TV guy. Huh. You learn something every day. Anywho, Denis' episode premiers tomorrow at 6:30 just before the pregame show for the Panthers/Houston Oilers game.

If you miss the first showing, it'll be on throughout the month.

-- The Panthers raised $50,000 for charity in their golf tournament on Monday. Pretty good work...

January 22, 2008

Welcome Back

KotterKicking off Canada Week here at the Big Bank in north Weston.

Would like to welcome back the vast sections of empty seats to the old arena, they've been missed of late. OK, not really.

Cory Murphy is back in the game, playing for the first time since Nov. 13. That's a 30-game span. Florida's games missed to injury number now up to 214.

-- Anthony Stewart the healthy scratch tonight.

Louie -- Panthers giving away 20 big-screen TVs during the megatilt between the Panthers and the Vancouver Fighting Luongos. Billing it as a matchup between All-Star goalies, the one the franchise traded away versus his replacement.

Of course, Luongo may not play on Feb. 1, not after playing the night before in Tampa.

I know. He's going to play.

Vokoun_2 -- Speaking of bad trades, you have to say the Luongo deal from 2006 looks a bit better considering the Panthers were able to turn Todd Bertuzzi into a draft pick (that helped get Vokoun) and Shawn Matthias. Not saying it was a good deal, but it sure doesn't look as lopsided as it did this time last year.


Alyssa2 -- Didn't know if you heard, but Alyssa Milano is going to be in Atlanta for the All-Star Game. Still working the story for you, the loyal reader.

-- Some numbers for you. Panthers up 1-0 after one against the Senators. By my math, this is only the third time this month Florida has taken the initative and led 1-0. Also, FLA is 10-3-1 this season when leading after the first period, and 14-5-2 when scoring first.

And, according to Matt Sacco, Panthers haven't led going into the second since Dec. 27 at Atlanta.

So there you go.

Alyssa3 -- Did you hear about Alyssa Milano?

-- Word is Sid the Kid could be out eight weeks with his busted up ankle. Bad news for the Panthers (the beancounters, not the players). If he's out the full eight, he'll miss Pitt's final game of the season in west Plantation on  March 6 (I bet he's back by then).

It does look like Sidney will miss the next meeting with the FlaCats, Feb. 19 in Pittsnogle.

Barrymanilow -- Love that banner ad for Barry Manilow down in the corners. Nothing says hockey more than Barry Manilow's surgically-altered smiling face. They need to lose that pretty quickly.

-- Save that Puck! Tanner Glass with his first NHL goal, set up beautifully by Nate Horton. I'm betting the Manilow image down behind Ray Emery was an inspiration.

I know it is for me.

-- Tanner Glass throws with Chris Neil after the former Motley Crue singer scores to tie the score. Neil wins the fight too, but good for Glass for getting something going.

-- Panthers on power play, QB Murph the Surf throwing some tight spirals...

-- Here are some numbers to crunch: Games lost due to injury -- Ottawa 77, Panthers 214. Dany Heatley the only active player on the IR for the Sens. He missed his sixth straight game Tuesday.


Breaking News

MilanoThere's a lot going on the world of hockey this Tuesday, from John Ferguson Jr. ousted in Toronto to Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson coming back to the play the Panthers tonight.

Yet all of this pales in comparison to the news that Alyssa Milano is coming out with a new NHL-inspired clothing line for ladies.

Now, I know some may be skeptical about this being considered news. I know I was at first. But, word is Ms. Milano is going to be in Atlanta this weekend for the All-Star Game. I think it's my duty as a true sports journalist to track down this story and, at the same time, Ms. Milano.

Will keep you updated as the story unfolds.

-- On the ice, some decent sized news out of Sunrise today. Looks like Cory Murphy returns tonight to run the power play, the first of a handful of Florida's walking wounded to return. Branislav Mezei could play tonight as well. Obviously, though, the return of Murph the Surf is pretty big. He was having a great season before getting hurt. Saw Jozef Stumpel today as well, he looks good. He'll be back soon as well.

-- Daniel Alfredsson returns for the Senators tonight, his hip flexor injury apparently all healed up.The Sens have been struggling with both Dany Heatley and Alfredsson out of the lineup. So here comes a little help.

-- Ray Emery back in net for the Sens tonight. He's 2-0 against the Panthers this season and 6-1 against the Cats lifetime with one shutout.

January 21, 2008

Olli says things are OK

OlliSpent most of Monday at an auto repair shop, dropping a small fortune on new brakes for the Pontiac.

And how was your holiday?

Pete Pelegrin, he of the FIU beat, graciously filled in for me today and grabbed Olli after practice. JM says he wouldn't talk about rumors, and that's fine. There is so much stuff floating around, if he commented on them all, that's really all we'd talk about. Anyway, Pete transcribed the conversation for me and sent the email my way.

Want to read what Olli had to say? No? OK, see you tomorrow.

Just kidding. Not about the 'see you tomorrow' thing. I will blog tomorrow from the Big Bank. There's some interesting stuff below. Olli seems to be pretty forthcoming, and adds if this team doesn't make the playoffs again this year, he won't have to ask for a trade. It'll come on its own...


The team hasn't been playing well. Who else are you going to bring up on our team? Vokoun has no trade clause; most of the guys have no trade clause. I don't have a no trade clause.

If you’re not wanted in one place, a no trade clause won't save you.

What are you going to say? The team hasn't been playing well. My name is popping up again. I don't think if we were in first place, my name would be out there in trade rumors. I'm pretty much used to it. It doesn't really bother me. My agent called me and asked if I had heard it.

I haven't been traded in 7 years. I never will be OK with it. I like this place. This is home. It’s not one of those things where you want to move. I don't believe the grass is any greener on the other side. as a player you are always going to win. To me it's the easy way out looking elsewhere for other teams or going somewhere and trying to win happiness or win championships. I want to win here and hopefully we make some moves here.

It’s the bottom line. We haven't been playing well. Hopefully our injured guys are coming back. There are some good young players we have in the system. The bottom line I think is that everybody wants to win now. Its not like you want to be part of a rebuilding process or anything like that. We have young, good prospects. I think it’s just a matter of winning now.


I asked a couple of times [for trades] and my wish came true. Just once actually from the Islanders to Panthers in 2000. I think its something positive out there too. I think it shows there is some interest around the league. It shows you have been doing something right.


You guys probably think I’m out of my mind I’ve been so positive all the time. I believe we've been going in the right direction the last couple of years. It’s been really a hard year this year, especially seeing other teams struggle, not playing the level they're capable of playing, as well as in our division.


 It’s pretty amazing we're still right there at four points behind [Carolina], being three games below .500. We had a really good stretch there is December, but like I said, it’s been a roller coaster all year.


I don't think it’s coaching or anything like that. It’s more of the guys playing consistently. We’re doing pretty good when we're doing that, 20 guys on the same page. We win most of the nights when we do that.

I don't how long we are going to wait and see what is going to happen as a team. I think fans have been patient. I think owners have been patient. if things do not go well we're probably not going to be in the playoffs then there are probably going to be some moves like you guys have been hearing.

If we don't make it this year, I probably don't have to go and say I want to get traded there's probably going to be moves no matter what.

And usually you go out there and change your top players. That’s how its always been done in the business and that's how it's always going to be.

The best thing for us is winning hockey games and be in the playoffs at the end of the year. I think that's what this franchise needs.


If I got a center like Matthias I don't have a problem to play wing.

He’s a good player who gets you the puck. He plays the same type of hockey that I do. We match up good. He’s not like a typical center, not like a playmaker center. He’s more of a goal scorer, a guy who crashes the net and takes the puck well. I never really have had a chance to play with a guy like him.