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17 posts from July 2008

July 28, 2008

Jay Bouwmeester Signs...


Jaybo ....for one year, thus avoiding arbitration tomorrow in Toronto.

On the surface, this doesn't look like the Panthers accomplish much since Jay would have received a one-year deal tomorrow anyway. Hearing the deal is for $4.9 million, and the Panthers felt he could have received as much as $5.5 tomorrow.

The one thing this does is create some good will between the two sides. The fact these two could come to some sort of agreement means Jay may be amenable for something else later one. Signing before going to arbitration eliminates some bad vibes that could come out of the hearing.

The Panthers, who offered a number of long-term deals including a two-year set, feel Jay wants to see how things are going to be around here before getting locked in. He wants to make sure it's not business as usual in Pantherland before picking out his cabin on the ship.

"We're real happy to have been able to get an agreement with Jay and his agent,'' general manager Jacques Martin said. "We feel it satisfied both parties. It’s a fair deal for us, a fair deal for what he brings to the table. He’s a young player, one who plays a lot of minutes and a lot of different situations. It's good to have this behind us.

"I think at least to have him and be able to come to an agreement showed some progress. Two years ago, we went to arbitration with him. This shows good faith by both parties. This is a chance for Jay to step in and help our team progress. We feel we’re going to have some success with the moves we made.''

Problem is, if Jay thinks the Panthers are continuing to to sink, he's moving on.

"I'm glad Jay is on board. Sometime during the season, hope to get it long term,'' JM said. "We’re progressing. We want to have a good start to the season, then address the issue.

"We have a player who was a third overall pick, a kid who is a winner, a competitor. He wants to get into the playoffs, win a championship. We feel with him signed now, we can use this year to show where we’re going.''


July 25, 2008

Summer in the City

Miami_2Summer is officially here in South Florida, and if you haven't noticed, your air conditioning is really working overtime. That, and you don't get out much.

Not a whole lot going on in PantherLand, and with every muggy passing day, it appears more likely Jay Bouwmeester and the Cats are going to arbitration up in Toronto come Tuesday.

Have spoken to a number of folks within the organization (none of whom own the initials J.M.) and even a couple of players. Not one thinks Jay signs a long-term deal here before his hearing, and only one said he expects Jay to be here come the start of the 2009-10 season. It appears to me that there isn't just one reason why Jay isn't a big fan of the Panthers; there are quite a few issues here.

Jay's agent told our Barry Jackson that he rejected the Panthers most recent offer (I have heard almost $6 million per for six years but cannot get that confirmed by the agent nor JM) and they are preparing for arbitration. Which is their right. And, I've been told, the Panthers will give Jay whatever the arbiter rules he's worth for the coming season and roll the dice hoping to keep him.

We'll see. As I've written before, both sides are keeping this thing on the down-low, so we'll just have to wait to see how things play out.

-- Old pal Scott Burnside has his summer power rankings out on ESPN.com. 

No surprise here, but he's got the Pens atop the East and Detroit atop the West. Some surprises:  Edmonton up to No. 5 in the West,  with Vancouver down to 12.  Florida is ranked No. 12 in the East (about where it finished the season), ranked above only Toronto, the Isles and Atlanta. He has the Lightning up to No. 8.

-- Glen Murray has cleared waivers after being released in a salary cap move by the Bruins. He's going to be bought out and on the market. Have been told the Panthers have very little interest, although, my bet is Murray can still play. He's been hampered by injuries over the past few years, but has still put up some numbers. He'll go to a challenger for a low-money deal and we'll find out if he's still a player or not. Just don't count on it happening here.

-- Randy Cunneyworth will not be returning as coach of the Rochester Americans, instead, is getting his big break. Cunneyworth, a finalist to be an assistant on JM's staff last summer, is a new assistant in Atlanta. John Anderson, the new coach of the Thrash, saw plenty of Cunneyworth's Amerks while coach of Atlanta's AHL affiliate in Chicago.

Harry -- On a sad note, Charlie Weis singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame on Saturday at Wrigley. Good golly.  I'm certain Harry Caray just spun around and asked "who?"

Let's hope Gerry Faust gets his chance to sing.

July 20, 2008

Meet Peter DeBoer

Forsale3_3 Our story on Peter DeBoer ran in today's Miami Herald. I spent last weekend in Canada, visiting Peter's childhood home of Dunnville, Ontario (which is also the home of one Nathan Horton) before moving on to Peter's current home near Kitchener, Ontario.

Check out the story right here: Even in Summer, Tim Horton's Still Rocks

Good times on this trip, for sure. Met a lot of cool people both in Dunnville -- DeBoer's childhood buddies are a complete trip -- and in Kitchener. Learned quite a bit about the 10th coach in Panthers history, and I got to say, didn't learn much bad.

Peter comes across as a very accommodating, very down to earth guy. He has a great family with three great kids and a cool wife who told me she wants to be active in her new community. I think the DeBoer family is going to be an asset to South Florida no matter what happens on the ice.

That said, I like what I've heard about Peter's hockey acumen. He's working hard to figure out what he has in each of the players on the Panthers roster, and try and get the best out of them. There are plenty of question marks on this Florida team, including whom Peter is going to name captain, and he's been thinking about every angle. This guy has something to prove, too, as I get the thought he's ready to put down roots somewhere in Broward County (he's going to rent Gary Roberts' old place for a while).

-- PS: I took that picture posted above. I thought it was pretty good. Here are some more pics I took (which I thought would have run online, but, well, whatever....) Anywho, to see the pic a little better, feel free to click on the shot and it'll enlarge.

Campbelljersey This is a picture of Gregory Campbell's jersey from the 2003 CHL All-Star Game that hangs in the Kitchener Rangers' offices.

Deboerandsons Here's Peter and his two sons Matthew and Jack. He also has a daughter Abby who wasn't around for this shoot because she was playing in a baseball tournament. Word is she has a good bat and a slick glove.

July 17, 2008

Time to Game Plan

Here's the Panthers 2008-2009 schedule, hot off the press.

Oct. 10 at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 Atlanta, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18 N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 22 at Ottawa, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 San Jose, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25 at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 30 Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1 at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Nov. 2 at Atlanta, 5 p.m.
Nov. 6 at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.
Nov. 8 at Phoenix, 9 p.m.
Nov. 9 at Anaheim, 8 p.m.
Nov. 12 Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 14 Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 18 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 20 at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Nov. 21 at Boston, 7 p.m.
Nov. 24 Carolina, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 26 New Jersey, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 28 N.Y. Rangers, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 at N.Y. Rangers, 1 p.m.
Dec. 2 at Washington, 7 p.m.
Dec. 4 Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 6 Boston, 7 p.m.
Dec. 8 at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11 at Edmonton, 9 p.m.
Dec. 12 at Calgary, 9 p.m.
Dec. 14 at Vancouver, 10 p.m.
Dec. 18 at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Dec. 21 Colorado, 5 p.m.
Dec. 23 Nashville, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 26 Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 27 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 29 Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 31 at N.Y. Islanders, 2 p.m.
Jan. 3 at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Jan. 4 at Montreal, 1 p.m.
Jan. 6 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8 Carolina, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 10 Atlanta, 7 p.m.
Jan. 16 Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 19 Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 21 Dallas, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 27 Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31 at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.
Feb. 3 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 N.Y. Islanders, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 at Washington, 7 p.m.
Feb. 10 Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12 at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Feb. 13 N.Y. Rangers, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 Washington, 5 p.m.
Feb. 17 New Jersey, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 19 Chicago, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 21 Boston, 7 p.m.
Feb. 24 at Boston, 7 p.m.
Feb. 26 at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m.
Feb. 28 at New Jersey, 1 p.m.
Mar. 1 at Washington, 3 p.m.
Mar. 3 at Atlanta, 7 p.m.
Mar. 5 Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 7 St. Louis, 7 p.m.
Mar. 10 at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 12 at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Mar. 14 Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.
Mar. 17 Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 19 Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 21 Columbus, 7 p.m.
Mar. 23 Carolina, 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 25 at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Mar. 26 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Mar. 28 at Dallas, 8 p.m.
Mar. 31 Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 3 Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 5 Pittsburgh, 5 p.m.
Apr. 7 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Apr. 9 at Atlanta, 7 p.m.
Apr. 11 Washington, 7 p.m.

July 15, 2008

Wait Another Day

The NHL usually announces its upcoming schedule on the day after baseball's All-Star Game (in order to maximize exposure since it's the slowest sports day of the year.)

That, of course, is Wednesday.

Was recently told by the Panthers that the announcement would be delayed until Thursday.

Is the NHL still working on this thing?

Titletown, FLA? It's MIA

Obsign ESPN is doing a series called Titletown, USA.

According to them, Florida's honor falls to a little berg north of Ocala. Not sure if it's Williston or Gainesville or Milton.

'What you talkin' bout, Williston?'

This one, friends, is a no-brainer.

Miami, err, South Florida, is Florida's Titletown.

No offense Gainesville, but this one is what we call a 'no contest.' I mean, you can make fun of Miami demolishing the Orange Bowl all you want; Truth is, the old OB hosted more Miami (and even a few Florida/FSU) championship teams than any other single city -- or county -- in our entire state.


And that's just talking football.

ESPN got this one wrong, so much so, Chris Berman and his short sleeves can't really argue the fact.

Shula Miami (the State of Miami goes from Key West to Deerfield Beach IMHO) has more championships - professional or amateur - than any other region in the Sunshine State. Chop the State of Miami into, well, Miami proper, and the same holds true.

No county in our fair state has bred more champs than Miami-Dade.

Marlinschamps From the Dolphins' pair of Super Bowl wins (one better than Tampa) to the Marlins pair of World Series titles (two more than the 'Devil' Rays) to the Heat's big ring (does Orlando have one?), it's all about the 305, babe.

Yes, even the Florida Panthers were winners in Miami, the Cats winning the 1996 Eastern Conference title while playing in the County of Dade.Heattitle

Apparently, ESPN was talking about collegiate titles.

Guess what? The MIA wins that one too. And it's not even close.

Hey, congrats to the school in Gainesville for winning two basketball titles Gatorschampleak and a football championship within a 12 month span. That is a feat no school has ever done and I don't know if we'll see something similar repeated in the coming years.

Yet UF is still chasing that little private school in Coral Gables for most major championships. The State University from Tallahassee is as well.

Miami has five national football championships, four more in baseball. Florida has two in football and two in basketball. Florida State has two in football and no baseball or basketball titles, but the Noles' track team is racking up championships. Starting a dynasty, actually.

Still, advantage, Coral Gables.

Advantage, Miami.

Titletown, FLA? It's the 305, kids.

Nolestitle Sorry Tallahassee, sorry Tampa (good job with the Stanley Cup, the Bucs and those Arena titles), sorry Gainesville. Boltschamps And, yes, sorry we haven't mentioned Jacksonville or even, really, Orlando.

The truth is in the titles.

Miami is King Orange. 

Miami is Florida's home of champions.

Jimmy_2 Here's your chance to vote on it with a special On Frozen Poll.


UPDATE: This poll has been up for less than eight hours, yet we have close to 800 votes from around the world (but mostly from the eastern coast of the USA). Keep it coming.

Miami, not surprisingly, leading Gainesville by a healthy margin, getting almost nine of every 10 votes.

July 13, 2008

News from Canada

Canadaflag It may be July, but this guy ain't sweating.

That's because I'm in Canada, where the locals complain about 45 percent humidity and temps in the high 70s. That's seventies kids.

Which is nothing to sneeze at, but it's also nothing to sweat at if you know what I mean.

And since they laugh at us when we break out the leather coats when it hits 62 on Fort Lauderdale beach, I can laugh at them when it hits 84 degrees here and everyone talks about a heat wave. No, this isn't a heat wave. It's spring.

Anywho, didn't come here to play Brian Norcross and talk about the weather.

I came here to talk about the Panthers schedule.

Got a call today from someone within the NHL whom I trust. They had the Cats schedule scribbled down, so I asked some questions. Let's hope I got the right answers.

As I said before, the Panthers are kicking off the season on Oct. 10 at Carolina, the home opener (with an additional $25 tagged on to single tickets) coming the next night (Oct. 11 for those who aren't real good at math) against the ATL.

Now, on to the good stuff.

Florida, after playing on back-to-back nights, will not play its third game until the Minnesota Russos come to town on Thursday, Oct. 16.

Key points to the Flo Rida schedule:

The Cats will be at home come Thanksgiving, playing host to New Jersey on Wednesday, Nov. 26; the Rangers come to SoFla post-TurkeyDay, on Friday, Nov. 28. Florida will also be home for Christmas, Florida playing host to Nashville on Dec. 23, and Tampa Bay on Dec. 26. Florida will travel to the west coast for a Devil Rays (OK, Lightning) rematch on Dec. 27.

Teams coming to the Arena in east Naples: Detroit (Nov. 14), Minnysota, Colorado, Chicago, San Jose and Columbus.

Florida visits the Phoenix JokinenGretzkys on Nov. 8, and also travel to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver (Dec. 15).

The Panthers will visit -- and also have home games against -- St. Louis and Dallas.

Montreal, this clown's Stanley Cup pick, comes to town Dec. 29 and Jan. 29.

There will be more details come Wednesday when the entire schedule comes out.

There are plenty of holes here (the Panthers will probably play home-and-home against at least one more team aside from STL and DAL), and the Dunnville folks want to know when the Florida DeBoers travel to Buffalo and Toronto.

Hey, this is a start.

-- Burger King is running the "we got rid of the Whopper" commercials up here in Canada. Some of the best, most effective commercials ever, IMHO.

Of course, BK would be struggling for business if Tim Hortons were all over the states. Sure, Timmys doesn't sell burgers, but everything else they offer is top notch.

-- Love the Blue Jays wearing their old-school road unis during home weekend games at SkyDome. Those were so-bad-they're-cool looks by the Jays and good for them for bringing them back.

-- Chicken wings at Hooters in Canada are quite expensive. But they were good, so whatever...

July 11, 2008

It's Jack

The Panthers search for a new director of player personnel didn't last long - and didn't go far.

Jack Birch, who has served in various capacities with the Panthers over the years, was given the job.

He replaces Duane Sutter, who left for the same job with Calgary on Thursday.

Schedule Stuff

Stanleyc Got word from a friend inside the NHL that the Panthers schedule is all but set. He/She didn't have the complete sked in front of them, but did have a few good nuggets of information.

First off, the Panthers will open the 2008-09 season on Oct. 10 in Raleigh, N.C., taking on the WhalerCanes. Florida will then come home and kick off its home campaign on Saturday, Oct. 11 against Atlanta. The Panthers are also expected to be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Will have more in the coming days. The full schedule will be announced on Wednesday (the day after the MLB All-Star Game), but I hope to have more key pieces of this way before then.

-- The Panthers are in the market for a new director of player development, Duane Sutter heading west to join his brother Darryl with the Flames in the same capacity.

Duane 'Dog' Sutter -- who was part of the Islanders' four Cups as a player -- spent the past 11 years with the Panthers organization in one capacity or another. Sutter was even the Panthers coach for a time, taking over for the fired Terry Murray during the 2000-01 season. Sutter started the 2001-02 season as coach, eventually replaced by one Mike Keenan (who, coincidentally, is Calgary's coach).

-- The Flames also named former Panthers goalie Jamie "Noodles" McLennan their director of goaltending development. Noodles, in net for the Flames, was suspended for five games during the 2007 playoffs for slashing Johan Franzen. The Wings won the next game so Jamie is still on the hook for four games (if he wants to suit up again). He played in Russia and Japan last season.

July 10, 2008

Monty Mouse


DisneylandSteve Montador will not return to the Panthers this coming season, signing a one-year deal for $800,000 with Anaheim.

I've been told he was offered more by Florida, although this wasn't about the money or, from what I've been told, the Panthers. Monty simply looked at the roster and didn't see himself really fitting in. Monty was shuffled around last year, from the checking/energy forward lines to being on the third defensive pairing.

Monty Playing up front so much obviously helped his offensive numbers as he absolutely shattered his previous bests in goals and assists.

Good luck to Monty out west. He's going to dig it out there. I know a cool place in Garden Grove -- not far from the Pond.

It's Canada Week


Youppi2 As expected, the Panthers are going to very busy this preseason, playing six games in six Canadian (and Canadien) nights.

Florida will play one exhibition at home, hosting the Isles on Oct. 6.

Florida opens the preseason on September 23 in Cagary against the Keenans, then play two in Edmonton (Sept. 24, 25).

The Cats continue at Calgary on Sept. 26, the visit the Isles on Prince Edward Island on the 27th. The marathon ends Sept. 28 in Montreal (allll riiiiight!).

July 09, 2008

New Coaches, Deal for Anthony

Hulton_2 The Panthers made a few moves today.

First, Anthony Stewart has agreed to take his qualifying offer. It's a one-year deal, although there is still a chance the Panthers could sign him to a multi-year deal.

Also, the Panthers added some staff. The coaching staff is set now, with Mike Kitchen and Pierre Groulx being joined by former junior coach Jim Hulton.

Hulton has had a number of coaching stops in the Ontario Hockey League, most recently coaching the Toronto St. Michaels Majors. Prior to that, Hulton coached at Royal Military College and was also coach at Kingston and Missassauga. Hulton and new coach Peter DeBoer have a long history together, and coached together with Team Canada at the world juniors.

Florida also has a new video coach, bringing in Jamie Pringle from Hockey Canada. Pringle and Hulton are pals.

The bad news is,  Guy Charron is officially out with the Panthers after a number of years of service. Guy is under contract for next season, so if he doesn't land a new gig (I'm thinking he'll be fine) he's still getting paid. So that's cool. Good luck, Guy.

-- Happy Birthday to loyal OFP reader Laura B. Hope you enjoy your day...

July 07, 2008

Should the Panthers Trade Bo?

BodukeOnly a few people -- Jay Bouwmeester, his agent and perhaps JM the GM -- know whether Florida's No. 4 wants to continue his relationship with the Panthers much longer.

Jay has already decided to take the Panthers to arbitration, which means the thoughts he would sign an offer sheet with another team is over. For now, it's the Panthers or no one for Jay. But there are a few options.

Bo First, the team and Jay go to arbitration, a contractual number decided upon and Jay signs for one more year and the Panthers roll the dice. Or, the two sides come to an agreement before arbitration, likely for more than one season. JM could also decide this is going no where (which is how it appears) and send Jay somewhere else and try and get some more pieces for the Everglades Six.

Obviously, the third option would be made out of desperation. The Panthers can't afford to let Jay walk away without getting anything in return next summer, and it's tough to get true value for a top guy like Jay at the trade deadline next season, especially if the Panthers are in playoff contention (quit laughing) at the time.

Mrboh So what do you think JM should do? There hasn't been much news out of either camp, so like I said, only those three really know what's going on here. And that's how it usually goes in negotiations like this, although I find Jay's silence on the matter quite telling. Sure, he isn't the most open guy in the world to begin with, but a lot of people have questions whether he wants to be here and he hasn't had much to say on the subject. If he wanted to dispel those rumors, he easily could. And yet he really hasn't.

Comments, as always, are more than welcomed. Have fun. Oh, and it's Frozen Poll time! Vote early, vote often.

Bert Back in Canada

Berternie COLONY WEST CC -- The Calgary Keenans have signed free agent Todd 'Bert' Bertuzzi.

The Flames tried to give up Roberto Luongo in the deal, but Vancouver passed.

In my mind, this is a good move for the Flames. I think Bert would have been a good fit in a return to Florida, although I'm not sure JM was willing to go down that road again. Don't think Bert was, either, although I know he enjoys South Florida.

Bertuzzi is getting close to $2 million this season from the Flames, but is still getting paid from Anaheim after the Ducks bought him out after signing him to a two-year deal last summer.

July 05, 2008

Shocking News

PITTSBURGH -- According to the NHLPA, 15 players have elected to go to arbitration.

Florida's Jay Bouwmeester is one of them. Jay and the Panthers went before an arbitor two seasons ago, and that contract is up. If the two sides end up going to arbitration, the max contract would be a one-year deal.

The two sides can continue to negotiate up until their scheduled date (probably in August).

July 02, 2008

Free Agent Focus II


CHICAGO --For all those who wondered why I would take some time off right at the start of free agency, well A) I didn't think the Panthers would be that active based on their current roster and B) well, why not?

Seems as if the Panthers are done for now, although there are some guys still out there JM and FLA can afford.

Monty hasn't signed anywhere yet, so he could still return. As some heard me say on XM Radio's Power Play yesterday, I think it'll be interesting to see if Bo signs an offer sheet somewhere. If he does, I think JM all but has to match. The question posed by (I think) Ron Rimer was that JM could be painted into a corner if Jay is offered a huge raise. I don't think that matters. FLA is already willing to pay Jay a bunch of money to stay in South Florida. The question is whether he decides to do so or not. I'm sure he and his agent know signing an offer sheet somewhere else means he's ultimately signing with the Panthers.

Personally, I like the moves of the past few days. I think Rusty got a bit much for what he's produced so far in his short career, but this was a signing based on potential, and he may have gotten more somewhere else as an RFA and Florida would have been forced to match. I love what Olesz does on both ends of the ice, and his passion and skill in killing off penalties is unrivaled among this current crop of Cats.

And I also like what I've seen over the years in Cory Stillman. He does a lot of things well and may just end up taking Olli's captaincy come training camp.

Have enjoyed reading the back-and-forth from the fans here the past few days. Keep it up. This blog is as conversational as it is entertaining/informative (at least I hope it's entertaining/informative).

Keep the comments coming. The more the merrier.

Will be back in a few days. Keep the blog warm for me.    

July 01, 2008

Cats Get Some Scoring

TORONTO -- The Panthers added some scoring punch today, signing Ottawa's Cory Stillman to a three year deal.

The 34-year-old winger spent the past few seasons with Carolina, going to Ottawa late last season. He scored 24 goals with 41 assists with the WhalerCanes/Sens last season.

Your thoughts?