« July 2009 | Main | September 2009 »

10 posts from August 2009

August 28, 2009

It's About Time: Alex Tanguay Signs (with Tampa Bay)

Backtofuture Montreal's RDS is reporting that Alex Tanguay has signed a one-year deal with the Lightning.

At least he didn't wait until September to make up his mind.

Of course this is just a report. It seems like just yesterday (OK, it was July) that there was a report saying Tanguay had signed with the Panthers.

The Lightning and Tanguay's agent have confirmed it as a one-year deal contingent on Tanguay passing his physical this week in Tampa so says the St. Pete Times.

August 25, 2009

Pete DeBoer is Doing the Fish: Panthers Coach Meets the Miami Marlins


Pete DeBoer was a special guest of the Marlins on Tuesday night at Miami Gardens Stadium, joining the Fox crew during the top of the fourth.

The two announcers – Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton – aren't the biggest of hockey fans but they had some notes and asked DeBoer some questions about the upcoming season. DeBoer wore a Panthers golf shirt with a black Marlins cap on the air.

The first part of the conversation dealt with the brutal preseason schedule (one everyone around the league jokes about and players hate), although that was quickly glossed over. Waltz and Hutton apparently hadn't heard the team was opening the regular season in Finland with a pair against the Blackhawks.

''Unfortunately,'' DeBoer said when asked if both games were against Chicago. ''They're a pretty good team.''

Pete on being a baseball fan: ''I grew up in Ontario and was a big Blue Jays fan. I loved that team that won the championships. My son plays in Parkland. I'm a big ball fan. [Toronto] had some great players back then. It was a great time for baseball in Toronto then and it hasn't gotten back to that. It's like that in a lot of cities when they are winning.''

On the top players this year: ''The big thing this summer was signing David Booth. He will represent the U.S. in the upcoming Olympics. He's a big fan fave. Then we have Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton. Our goalie is Tomas Vokoun – probably our highest paid player, an elite goalie.''

On hockey in South Florida: ''We get great coverage down here. There's a good buzz. We're like the Marlins, right on the verge of doing something special. There are some great sports franchises down here.''

On dealing with Craig 'Craig' Minervini: “I survive Craig. Actually the Fox Sports guys are outstanding.''

On his second season: ''I feel a lot more comfortable. Last year, I had to move down here, coming from junior hockey to a new league, a new team. It was a new country, didn't know the personnel. I think we can hit the ground running this year. I found the transition less than I think was going to be. Hockey is hockey just like ball is ball. Guys want accountability, want to be treated fair. Once we got to that point about 20 games in, we really started to roll.''

On his first NHL game he ever attended: ''My first hockey game was probably the Buffalo Sabres. Dad couldn't afford Leafs tickets so we had to drive across the border.''

-- More from Pete tomorrow...

-- According to the Marlins:

Pete DeBoer, Florida Panthers Head Coach, will have the opportunity to countdown to the New Marlins Ballpark. The Marlins Wall Countdown, located in the left field wall at Land Shark Stadium, will feature celebrities, Marlins' icons, former and current players, season ticket holders, members of the corporate family, as well as special guests, who will assist in unveiling the number of remaining games.

The ceremony will take place in left field at the end of the 5th inning.

NHL Makes Bid for Coyotes: Money, Meet Drain ... UPDATE: Jerry Reinsdorf/Tony Tavares Back Out

Byowner The curious case of the Phoenix Coyotes took another strange turn today.

Now the NHL wants to buy the team.

The league put in a bid to purchase the team, likely meaning the other 'major' bid by Jerry Reinsdorf and crew wasn't very strong (which it doesn't look to be) or is falling apart.

UPDATE: There is a report coming out of Arizona that states that Jerry Reinsdorf's group has indeed pulled up stakes in this deal claiming he is dealing with an 'unwilling seller.'

I guess that means they couldn't work out a new lease agreement with Glendale for the Glendale.com Arena. Here's a statement from the Reinsdorf group (which included Tony Tavares who can now run the Panthers if SPAC is approved as the team's new owners):

Glendale Sports and Entertainment, whose principals are John Kaites, Jerry Reinsdorf and Tony Tavares, regrets to inform all interested parties that despite expending a great deal of time, money, and effort, it is unable to comply with the court mandated deadline of August 25, 2009, for having a firm offer to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes and keep them in Glendale.

Despite the fact that we always thought that we were operating on an extremely aggressive timeline, we were able to accomplish a great deal in a very short time period. Our capital structure is negotiated, and we have negotiated acceptable deals with the secured creditors as well as a number of unsecured creditors. We have developed a solid business plan that would result in keeping the Coyotes in Glendale and in a relatively short period of time turning the team into a successful and viable NHL franchise.

All of this was accomplished while the unwilling seller created an expensive litigious environment and pressed a public relations strategy that has had the effect of chilling the negotiations with the City. It is unfortunate that this conduct continues. We have faced an organized publicity effort designed to provide negative and misleading information to interested parties. Not only has this stymied negotiations, but is has eroded local market demand for Coyotes tickets, luxury boxes, and sponsorships.

Despite arduous efforts by the City of Glendale’s administration and ourselves, we have been unable to reach an acceptable lease deal for the operation of the team at the Jobing.Com Arena. Since we have not finalized this critical agreement within the mandated timeline we cannot submit a firm and binding offer to the Court.

And now, back to the blog:

If the judge in the case decides to go with the highest bidder to pay off creditors, Jim Balsillie is going to win. The two bids aren't even close.

And the NHL knows this. They feel they need to save this thing and the only way to do that is by jumping in with the (supposed) backing of 29 other teams.

Isn't that special. A league running its own team. The league did say it would quickly sell the team outside of bankruptcy court.

So, the league overpays for the Coyotes, then sells them at a loss to keep them in Glendale. Sounds good.

Major League Baseball may have ruined the Montreal Expos, but at least they made some money when they moved them to Washington and sold them.

How much money can the NHL lose on this deal? A bundle. Don't forget, the NHL has already been pouring a ton of money into this franchise as it is. And now they are going to lose even more. Looks like expansion is on the way. The league is going to have to make this money up somewhere.

Hamilton, you might be getting a team soon enough. It just may not be this one. But you'll get one to make up for this one. Does that make any sense? To the NHL, apparently so. To everyone else? Eh.

Here's what Bill Daly said in a release today:

"Today, the League filed its own bid to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes’ franchise out of bankruptcy in an effort to maximize the likelihood that the Club ultimately will be sold to an acceptable purchaser who is committed to operating the franchise in Glendale.

"We remain supportive of the other efforts that have been and are being made to purchase and operate the Coyotes in Glendale, and we will continue to do everything we can to assist interested groups in those efforts leading up to the scheduled sale hearing on September 10, 2009 and thereafter, if the NHL is the winning bidder.

"We believe this step was necessary at this time in order to best preserve and maximize the value of the Club asset for benefit of the Club’s creditors and for the community of Glendale.

"The bankruptcy petition and subsequent events have been incredibly damaging to the Club’s business, and the sooner the Club can be extricated from the bankruptcy process, the sooner Club personnel can begin to restore the team’s vitality and local fan base.

"In the event the League’s bid proceeds forward and ultimately is the one approved by the Court, we intend to conduct an orderly sale process to a third party buyer outside of bankruptcy.

"It continues to be our intention and hope to conclude satisfactory agreements with existing Club business partners that will allow the Coyotes to be owned and operated on a viable basis in Glendale for many years to come."

Gearing Up: Panthers Begin Informal Workouts ... Pete DeBoer @ Marlins Tonight ... Fresh Daily Lynx

Panthers Tomas Vokoun now has some friends to spend his mornings with.

The Panthers are coming in one by one and working out at Incredible Ice in Coral Springs.

Vokoun had the place to himself the past few weeks; now, others have joined him.

Yesterday was the first day of Cory Stillman's (semi) organized practices. Present: Stillman, Vokoun, Nathan Horton and Jordan Leopold. Today Stephen Weiss showed up with Anthony Stewart.

Spoke a little with Leopold on Monday regarding joining the Panthers. Like he told us when he signed, much credit goes to Randy Sexton for revisiting Leopold after July 1.

Leopold The Panthers had Leopold's rights until July 1, then he went free agent. The offers weren't there apparently, and Sexton called back and made one. And that's basically how Leopold signed with the Cats. He says he's excited about the challenge, and I think the Panthers are excited he's in a contract year. Should get his best. But, remember, he's been in the west his whole career. Takes a little adjustment moving east and seeing all these new teams.

“I’m an older guy on this team, which sounds funny to me,” said the 29-year-old Leopold. “On the back end one guy [Jay Bo] is missing and he logged a lot of minutes. But I think the rest of us can carry that weight, and we’re excited for the challenge.”

More on Leopold and the new-look defense in the coming days.

-- Stephen Weiss spent the entire summer in the gym in appears. "I'm starting to enjoy that side of the game,'' he said about his intense training. "I'm getting older, starting to really see those results.'' He also said watching other teams in the playoffs fueled his workouts throughout the summer. "I'm really getting Weiss3 sick of these long summers,'' he spat. ''I'm trying to do something about it.''

He says his surgically repaired wrist is healed up, although he'll still feel some discomfort with it for another year or so. He says he couldn't lift for two months after the surgery, so ''I ran a million miles'' and ''did plenty of leg work'' while recovering. then he hit the weights like a mad man.

Weiss also said he played a little golf over the summer, kind of like this guy. Unlike me, however, Weiss doesn't suck. He says he shot a 73 at Plantation Preserve on Monday.

Hate that guy.

-- Nathan Horton appears to have spent plenty of time in the gym as well, although he's not bigger. He's  markedly smaller.

Horton2 And looks a lot quicker and faster.

Word is he is clocking in at 205, about 10-15 pounds lighter than he played at last year. In past summers, Horton did NFL type training to get stronger. Now, it looks like he wants to play at a faster pace.

At any rate, Horton has shown -- again -- a commitment to his offseason training.

-- Anthony Stewart is no longer a Panther, that evidenced by him wearing a blue Florida practice jersey inside out (the stitching of the leaping cat still visible). The Panthers invested a lot in Stewart, and he Stewart spent the entire season here last year before Florida decided to cut him loose during the offseason.

It seems Stewart invested a lot this summer. He looks huge. And fast. A change of scenery might be exactly what he needs to blossom as Panthers management had hoped he would do here. Maybe he'll become that player in Atlanta.

-- Tomas Vokoun continues to get his work in, and having NHL caliber players working with him will only make him better. Vokoun's reflexes look good, as does his footwork.

Like I said earlier, he looks to be in great shape.

He's moving around well although he has been giving up some big rebounds. But this is summer practice.

-- Coach Pete DeBoer is expected to be a guest of the Marlins tonight as they take on the Mets at Miami Gardens Stadium. Don't know if DeBo is throwing out the first pitch tonight or not, but he is expected to be tonight's celebrity to pull down the countdown number in left field.

More from the stadium later.


-- Too bad: No hockey at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. At least not this year. Go Expos.

-- More from TSN: Stephen Walkom is leaving his cushy gig to make a comeback as a ref...

-- James Mirtle does the stats and comes up with what we've been saying for years: The Panthers have had some pretty good goaltending over the past couple of years.

-- Comcast owned Vs. still haggling with Direct TV...

-- Saw this on PuckDaddy: The Wild's new jerseys have been leaked.

-- Speaking of new jerseys, no one around the Panthers seems to know anything about when Florida's new threads are going to be released. It's supposed to be this year.

-- Jim Balsillie sets deadline for him taking over the Coyotes.

-- Ducks hire Orange County Register beat writer Dan Wood to work on radio this season. Upcoming: Miami Herald reporter George Richards joins Randy Moller in the Florida booth. For at least one segment. ''Hi Randy, longtime listener, first time contributor....''

-- Good baseball nugget from Clark Spencer. Seems Jack McKeon sees a lot of the 2003 Marlins in the 2009 Rockies. I said the exact same thing last night after watching them win a game in the 14th inning on a game-winning grand slam. They are a dangerous bunch.

August 21, 2009

Shake Your Grove Thang: Dancer Tryouts Tomorrow ... Tomas Vokoun Speaks ... Daily Lynx Return

Icedancer Sure is slow around hockey these days, with most of the news coming off the ice. We have battles in Ottawa with Dany Heatley, Eugene Melnyk ripping Jim Balsillie and Patrick Kane's legal issues.

The big news around the Panthers is that they still haven't done a whole lot to improve themselves, are still for sale and still don't have a permanent general manager. Not a whole lot has changed since May. Or June.

So today's lead story regards something we all care deeply about: The Ice Dancers. There will be a new crop of Ice Dancers this year, and tomorrow starts that process. Tryouts for the 2009-10 dancers will be held at The Billboard starting at noon. Don't know if it's open to the public or not, but I'm going to see if my media pass still works.

If you are 18 or older and want to be an Ice Dancer, check it out. Information is here.

They say some of the judges are ''media celebrities.'' Guess I didn't make the cut. Maybe Joe Rose will be there. Or Steve X. I'm sure Goldie will find his way there out of professional curiosity.

-- Individual tickets for the Panthers are now on sale. Thought I should mention this somewhere.

-- Spoke with Tomas Vokoun a few days ago. He's been working out in South Florida for almost a month, getting a real leg up on the upcoming season. He's been working out with the team's new strength and conditioning coach and looks pretty good to me. He says he really wants to get off to a good start this year. Story in tomorrow's Herald.

-- Vokoun seems to feel like a lot of you when it comes to the roster: He wants more.

''It's pretty much the same team,'' he said. ''I think we can still use a couple more players on the roster, veteran guys. But we have what we have and we go from there. This is a team sport, not an individual sport. We'd be lying to ourselves if we said we were the most talented team in the league. We're definitely not. But we have enough talent to be successful and if we use what we have, we can be successful.''

Vokoun3 On the long summer:

''We definitely want to shorten it. This has been too long. I said when I come here, you play to make the playoffs. It makes no sense to come in and want to play 82 games then go on vacation. We all want to be in the playoffs. That's where the fun is. We want to do something special and that's up to us. It's not going to be easy. If it was, everyone would be in the playoffs.''

On being pushed by Scott Clemmensen:

''I think Craig did a great job and we both did a very good job. We were good together I thought. It's always good to be pushed. When you play hockey, most of the good players have pride. You want to do your best whether you are being pushed or not. Craig is going to do very well where he's at. He deserves this shot. I'm happy for him. He played very good hockey.

''We'll see what happens this year. I'm focusing on how I play. That's all I can control.''

-- Pete DeBoer says the new goalie coach/consultant should be named any day now. They are working on the contract as we speak. I hear it's John Vanbiesbrouck. And I totally just made that up.

-- Pete says his wife and kids are sick of seeing him so he's ready to get back to work.


I know I promised these a few days ago but have been busy writing football preview stories as well as the Vokoun story that's coming out tomorrow. Since it's still August, these may not be updated every day, but it will be more frequent than not. 

Hope you enjoy, eh.

-- Dany Heatley says he still wants to be traded from Ottawa because of his diminished role.

-- Don't think Sens owner Eugene Melnyk is going to have Jim Balsillie visit him in Barbados anytime soon...

-- Patrick Kane and his cousin plead not guilty.

-- The NHL Newtork aims to get into 50 million homes...and, while I love the NHL Network, the MLB Network may be the greatest thing ever invented. I hope the NHL has been paying attention...

-- And speaking of great television (not), Versus may not be on Direct TV come Sept. 1.

Berterniealbum -- How could I forget about Todd Bertuzzi going back to the Red Wings?

August 19, 2009

National Television Schedule Out: Shocking, but Panthers Barely Represented

Television The national television schedule came out today, and as usual, the Panthers will not be on very much.

As expected, the Panthers are not part of the NBC schedule, and their lone appearance on Versus comes Oct. 2 when they play the Blackhawks in Helsinki.

The Panthers are going to be on Hockey Night in Canada however, with The Billboard playing a starring role. Canada's favorite television program visits Sunrise on Jan. 23 along with the Maple Leafs.

-- Was at Incredible Ice today and spoke with Tomas Vokoun about the upcoming season. More on that in the coming days.

August 16, 2009

Diamond Vision: Colorado Rockies @ Florida Marlins ... Hockey Talk Returns this Week

Jrs Covering a little baseball this fine Sunday afternoon, and if you have any interest in it, come visit me down the street at Fish Bytes.

It's fun, especially since the Marlins are playing so well right now. They are playing a double header, so I'll be over there all day.

-- For those of you who love you some hockey, don't fret. I'll be updating the site throughout this week with plenty of Florida Panthers information as well as other stuff from around the league.

I like to call it Daily Lynx.

And it's back.

Summer vacation is officially over. Tell the kids it's time to go back to school.

August 13, 2009

Glory Days -- Florida Panthers: 1996 Eastern Conference Champions

Barasso If you are a fan of the Florida Panthers and have the NHL Network, you might want to turn on the television.

The NHL Network has condensed the entire 1996 Eastern Conference finals into a one-hour highlight program and is currently airing it (it's 6:15 p.m. on Thursday).

But if you missed it, don't fret: They are re-airing the program tonight at midnight.

Check it out. Or set the DVR and enjoy it later.

Hard to believe, but this is the last playoff series won by the Panthers. And it came 13 years ago. Oy.

-- PS: For all its flaws, how great was Miami Arena?

-- PPS: That Stu Barnes fella was pretty good....

-- PPPS: Blockbuster Music? Actually loved that place. Their people actually knew how to work the TicketMaster machine. Man I feel old.

August 06, 2009

Will Ed Play in Peoria?: Ed Belfour to be Goalie Consultant

Belfour2 Just got a Twitter update from good pal Jeremy Rutherford in St. Louis alerting the world that Ed Belfour is joining Peoria of the AHL as its new goalie consultant.

"Ed is one of the winningest goaltenders in National Hockey League history and we're thrilled to have him on our staff," Blues president John Davidson said in a news release.

"His knowledge of the position will be invaluable for our goaltenders in Peoria and the young goalies in our organization."

Belfour was definitely a different cat, Peoria but by most reports was a pretty respected teammate when he was with the Panthers. The guys on the team loved him, not only for his strong work ethic but for his off the ice personality (it was a jovial personality many of us never got to see).

When the Panthers traded for Tomas Vokoun in 2007, Belfour was deemed expendable as JM the GM turned to Craig Anderson to be Vokoun's backup.

Belfour didn't find work in the NHL and instead spent the 2007-08 season playing in Sweden. He didn't play last year although word was he wanted to. I had heard he was trying to get an invitation to someone's camp this year as well.

I really don't see Ed Belfour as a coach, but he definitely has the knowledge and if he has the passion for it, well, I bet he does just fine.

-- And no Ed Belfour story regarding the Panthers would be complete without this clip. A nice little trip down memory lane.

And yes, I know there are other stories I could bring up but I'm not going to do that. Not today.

Panthers Vs. Heat: Who Wins? Depends on Who is Winning

Wade Steven N. of West Palm Beach sent me a very interesting email last night, one I thought should be further investigated.

As I've explained to some in the Canadian media before, the Panthers struggle to put fannies in the seats for various reasons. First off, the team hasn't been real good during this decade. Winning, I think, will cure a lot of ills.

But another thing hampering the Panthers are their good friends down the road.

Stand up and make some noise for your Miami Heat.

The NBA schedule came out the other day, and according to Steve's calculations (which check out), there are 11 conflicts between the two franchises. That means on 11 nights, the Heat will be playing in Miami at the same time the Panthers are playing in Sunrise.

In this economy, cannibalization isn't good for either team. The team that is winning at the time will probably draw more fans. That's the nature of this market.

And there are matchup deals as well (the Heat's opening night will be a sellout on Oct. 28; the Panthers will struggle to put 12,000 in The Billboard when the Senators pay a visit that night).

When the Panthers are winning, this isn't really an issue. And some within the Panthers feel there are basketball fans and there are hockey fans and rarely do the two mix. But there are a lot of casual fans in this market, ones who will give hockey a try. But many of those casual fans will take the Heat right now for various reasons. And you hate to make the few fans in this market who actually go to the games make a choice between one or the other. And that's going to happen 11 times this season.

I'm not making any excuses for the Panthers attendance; they got a new arena on the edge of the Everglades when the truth is, this area doesn't need multiple arenas. But, the Panthers have an added challenge in bringing in fans, one most other NHL teams don't have to worry about. Do the Flyers care who the 76ers are playing at home on a Saturday night? No, because the Flyers are on the road and don't have a single ticket to sell that night.

-- Here is what the Panthers face when it comes to local competition: Of the 30 NHL teams, 16 share a market (not counting the Islanders but counting the Sharks/Warriors) with an NBA team. Of those 16 teams, all but five share an arena with said NBA team.

The teams: Heat/Panthers; Pistons/Red Wings; Warriors/Sharks; Suns/Coyotes; Wolves/Wild.

Of these five teams, the NHL team is preeminent in three of those markets.

Then you have the Panthers and the Coyotes, teams struggling to gain market share in a very competitive entertainment market. Having to go head-to-head with the more established NBA franchise doesn't help.

And there's not much either can do. The Panthers and the Heat don't talk about who is playing when; both teams want to play on the weekends, and since they don't compete against each other for the building (like in almost every other NHL city) they can do what they please. Of Miami's 11 conflicts between hockey and hoops, seven of those games fall on a weekend.

FYI: The Coyotes and Suns play at home on the same nights eight times.

-- Here is a list of the Heat-Panthers home conflicts and one's guess on which team gets the win attendance-wise:

October 28 – Heat vs. Knicks (opening night); Panthers vs. Senators. HEAT
November 6 – Heat vs. Nuggets; Panthers vs. Capitals. EVEN
November 14 – Heat vs. Nets; Panthers vs. Islanders. HEAT
November 27 – Heat vs. Wizards; Panthers vs. Maple Leafs. PANTHERS
December 27 – Heat vs. Pacers; Panthers vs. Bruins. EVEN (both will be hurting as Dolphins play Texans)
January 23 – Heat vs. Kings; Panthers vs. Maple Leafs. PANTHERS
February 1 – Heat vs. Bucks; Panthers vs. Ducks. HEAT
March 6 – Heat vs. Hawks; Panthers vs. Hurricanes. HEAT
March 16 – Heat vs. Spurs; Panthers vs. Capitals. EVEN
March 18 – Heat vs. Magic; Panthers vs. Coyotes. HEAT
March 20 – Heat vs. Bobcats; Panthers vs. Sabres. HEAT

Have to give the Heat the edge in most of the matchups because it has a higher season ticket holder base. So when both teams play a team with limited local draw, the Heat are going to draw more. Unless they stink.

-- FYI: Nothing new on Alex Tanguay. Thought I should update everyone.

-- In other obvious news, Maury is doing DNA testing today.