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Coaching Update

Spoke with JM today at The Bank, got a little bit of news from him regarding the coaching search -- among other things.

First off, the Panthers have asked for and been granted permission to speak to Paul Maurice (Toronto) and Perry Pearn (Rangers assistant). Martin has already had a conversation with Maurice, done when JM was at the team's development camp outside of Toronto.

"I've talked to Paul when I was there,'' he said. "I just had a meeting with him. It was a good meeting, but there are a couple more people I want to talk to.

"I don't have a timetable yet, but I'd like to pick up the pace in the coming week.''

We spoke a little bit about Andre Savard, with JM saying the two are friends. As far as him coming south to the Florida, I don't think it's going to be as coach. Jacques said Savard is very good in the scouting department and some reports I've seen imply that Savard wants to get back in the front office and back from behind the bench.

When asked if he was going to ask the Penguins for permission to speak to Savard, Martin said he probably would not -- although he would probably speak to him anyway. "We're friends, yeah,'' Martin said.

-- JM says he doesn't have a problem not having a coach in place by the draft. "They don't have anything to do with it,'' he said. But, if things fall into place, someone could have the gig before the month is up.

-- JM says he has spoken with Jay Bouwmeester's agent, but there has been no progress in talks for a contract. He says he expects talks to continue. When I asked him if he could foresee trading Bouwmeester at the draft if something isn't reached, he said "I would doubt that. We're not at that stage yet. We're at the begining stages of the negotiations.''