The Panthers are saying their goodbyes to the Billboard today, coming in for their final meetings with JM and coach Pete DeBoer.
It's an all-day affair, and so far, nothing all that newsworthy has transpired.
-- Spoke to Bryan McCabe about how things went down, and he expressed his disappointment in the team not making the playoffs.
When asked if he thought hockey should follow the baseball model and have a tiebreaking game to determined the eighth team, he said no. ''We had plenty of chances,'' he said.
Pete DeBoer, however, said there should be a play-in game.
''I like the playoff, and I came from a league where you had the one-game playoff as a rule,'' said DeBoer, who came to the Panthers after a decade-plus of coaching the Canadian junior leagues.
''It's appropriate after you play 82 games that if you are tied and have identical records, you should play once to decide the last spot. Use the mathematical formulas to decide who hosts. For me, that's a lot easier to swallow in your exit meetings than losing on a statistic.''
McCabe did say he enjoyed his first season with the Panthers, adding that ''living in the fishbowl'' of Toronto took its toll. ''Here, you can leave hockey at the rink,'' McCabe said. ''Then you can go home and enjoy your family.''
-- Jay Bouwmeester says he has not made up his mind on where he will play next year and says he's going to clear his head over the next few weeks.
He added that he has heard the talk that there is no way he is back next year and made sure we all knew he never said that.
''I've never said that,'' he said. ''I've heard all that too. I guess until something is done, it's always a possibility. You have to take some time to step away and evaluate before you do anything.''
While Jay left the door open for his return, Nick Boynton pretty much assumes he will not return to the organization.
''This was a disappointing season for myself and for the team,'' Boynton said.
Do you expect to be back next year?
''No. I mean, I don't imagine it. I would know if they were interested. I don't think they are. That's something that will happen. I liked playing here, it was enjoyable. But we didn't make the playoffs and that's unfortunate. Everyone needs to do what they think is right.''
-- Craig Anderson said he enjoys the Panthers and would like to come back here. But, he wants to be a starter somewhere, saying he owes it to himself to pursue that. Now, if Florida needed a starting goalie...
-- DeBoer on the season ending: ''The season is such a grind, so many peaks and valleys. I likened it to my wife the other day as running 100 miles per hour then hitting a brick wall and stopping dead. You don't know what to do. You just wander around aimlessly. It's disappointing, no other word for it.''
How meeting went
It's always tough and disappointing when you don't achieve the goal you have. It was definitely the most disappointing years I played. We did some good things, but ultimately it wasn't good enough. Me, personally, and the team. I'm not saying it was a bad season, but it wasn't good enough. If we want to go forward we have to improve. It's everyone, not just one guy. We all need to be better. We talked about how the year went and I know I have to be better at the start. It's been a few years now since I've been here with the slow starts. It's something I'm going to address and try and be better.
You're the GM; what needs fixing?
It all depends on what happens with Bo. Every team has their strengths and their holes. If we lose Bo, we're going to need an adequate replacement. I think we have a good group of guys. I had as much fun this year as I did in any year in hockey. That's a good start. We're a pretty tight group. We have a lot of young guys in this room who are going to be good for years. If Bo goes, that's a big part of this team.
Bother you that Bo hasn't said he wants to stay?
It doesn't bother me. It's his choice. Every single day and every game he played as hard as he could. That's all you can ask. You don't get many choices, to make your own choices, to make decisions for yourself. You have to take advantage of it. That's what he wants to to and it's hard to blame him for it. I thought he was our best player all year, and that's all you can ask. He got paid to play here and he did his job well.
The ups and downs of this year
It was the most up and down season I've had in a long time. Sometimes you have to deal with different stuff. Andy had a great season and every start he got, he deserved. He helped this team a lot in tough times. He won big games. It's a team sport and we're all connected. We won and lost as a team. We had a lot of contributions from a lot of guys. Sometimes you play, sometimes you don't You like it or you don't. But the only thing that's important is you're winning. That's professional sports.
Would you waive your no-trade if Florida asked?
You don't want to be somewhere where you're not wanted nor the other way around. I haven't crossed that thought yet. I would have to know what the situation is, and what's going on. If they want to go in another direction, I need to know where that would be. Those are things you don't control. I'm here to do my job unless something else happens or I'm told something else. I'm going to prepare and do the best job I can next year.
Disappointment with the end
It's tough the way it worked out, we were that close and don't get in makes it tough. That's the way it goes I guess.
Assess your season
I'm happy, the personal things were all right. It's one of those things where you try to play well every night. You're going to have ups and downs throughout the year, but I can go home and think I worked hard. I don't have a lot of regrets.
Hard to leave the building with so much uncertainty?
I think you have to step back and take some time and really take some time away to clear your head. There's obviously decisions to be made, but right now is not the time.
Your plans for the upcoming weeks?
I'll be here for a couple of weeks, maybe a couple of weeks then head home. Just going to take 'er easy.
The likelihood you do come back?
I don't know. It's been, down the stretch here, a lot on your mind and to be quite honest, it's something I need to sit down and do some serious thinking. For me to say right now, I'm not really sure.
How did the end of the season affect your decision?
I don't know. It's tough we didn't make it, but we did show some strides. We're definitely going in the right direction and you have to process that.
Any chance you come back? Everyone says there's no way...
I've never said that. I've heard all that too. I guess until something is done, it's always a possibility. You have to take some time to step away and evaluate before you do anything.