June 08, 2008

Done With This Guy

VinnyTSN in Canada is reporting that former Sharks coach Ron Wilson is indeed going to take the Maple Leafs gig, agreeing to a four-year deal to coach in the Centre of the Hockey Universe.

Don't know how much interest the Panthers had in Wilson -- or, more importantly, Wilson's interest in the Panthers -- but that is certainly moot now.

According to the TSN report, interim GM Cliff Fletcher said the two sides are close and had reached a verbal agreement, although "it is not on paper.''

JM told me, and other members of the South Florida media, that the Panthers' search was going to intensify this coming week.

Could be interesting, especially if something leaks out this week.

We shall see.

JM said he has narrowed his coaching candidates to four, and while he wouldn't confirm any of them -- other than saying he has spoken to Paul Maurice and has permission to speak with Perry Pearn -- I'm going to speculate who the four are.

Today's Frozen Poll asks who you would like to see coach the Panthers out of this bunch. Even though JM questioned where we all got Andre Savard as a candidate, I think where there's some smoke, there's fire and am putting him down as Candidate No. 5.

As always, comments are welcomed.

PS: On our last Frozen Poll, the question was whether the Panthers should hire the recently fired John Tortorella. A whopping 70 percent of you said yes. Was a little surprised with that one. But I don't see it happening for various -- and many obvious -- reasons.

Also, with Torts perhaps going to San Jose, that would leave Joel Quenneville available for the Panthers. So he's still in play.

May 31, 2008

Tampa Bay Turmoil

TortsIf reports out of Tampa are true, the new ownership group of the Lighting are preparing to clean house, shoving John Tortorella out the door in favor of ESPN commentator and former LA Kings coach Barry Melrose.

Now, I'm as big a Melrose fan as there is, but this is nonsense if it comes true.

If this new ownership group, which appears to be on shaky financial ground before even taking over, comes in and decides Torts' voice has been lost in the room, fine, replace him. But that doesn't appear to be the case. The Lightning weren't a playoff contender last year, but many predicted that to be the case before the season started. This bunch is in rebuild mode right now, and there wasn't much Torts could do to change the downward spiral.

I don't think Barry Melrose, as much fun as he'll be in the media scrums, will make much of a difference despite his reported $2 million per year salary.

Tortorella will be just fine. If he gets canned, maybe he takes a year off, replaces Melrose on the SportsCenter set. Nah. Tortorella will be coaching somewhere next year.

Sunrise, perhaps?

I would think the Panthers would love to have Tortorella in house, even though there's talk he doesn't get along with team president Michael Yormark stemming from their days when both worked for the Bolts.

I don't see Tortorella coming south, even if asked. Unless his biggest deal was sticking it to his old team. 

OK, I can see that.

Here's the full story from the Tampa Trib

May 12, 2008

Savard's Job to Lose?

Andresavard Old pal Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun threw out another rumor related to the Panthers coaching search, offering up Pittsburgh assistant Andre Savard. This isn't out of left field either, folks. I heard his name offered up a few weeks ago in conversations with someone within the organization. That person basically told me "look at guys who have been close to Jacques.''

Andre Savard has been close to Jacques.

As coach of the Quebec Nordiques, Savard hired Martin as his assistant coach when Martin was relieved of his first coaching job with the St. Louis Blues in 1988. Savard also worked in Ottawa as a scout and was an assistant coach under JM with the Sens.

Are they pals? Don't know. Would guess the two have kept close ties over the years as Savard has definitely been around.

A former player, Savard was general manager of the Canadiens earlier this decade, and has been an assistant coach with the Pens the past two seasons. The Pens are doing pretty well. JM may be waiting for this Pittsburgh season to end before he really begins the coaching search.

Savard spent 12 seasons in the NHL, splitting time with Boston, Buffalo and Quebec. He retired in 1985 after scoring 211 goals in close to 800 career games.

Is Savard the favorite right now? I'm not jumping through that hoop. But, I would think he's one of the top candidates because of his past with Jacques and because of the good work he's done with Pitt.

May 10, 2008

JM with Goldie

Goldie_2 Steve Goldstein had JM the GM on his radio show Saturday morning, talking about signing the prospects ("we'll have it done by June 1") to what he's looking for in a new coach.

Goldie also presses JM on whether he plans to trade Olli Jokinen this offseason. While JM didn't give him anything new, he was a little more staunch than he's been in the past.

"Right now, Olli is at the World Championships, but he's no different than any other player,'' JM said. "As a general manager, you're mandated to try and improve your hockey club. I don't think after missing the playoffs for seven years, we don't have any untouchables.''

Kind of repeating what Alan Cohen said earlier this offseason, that he couldn't "protect players anymore.''

Could get interesting.

If you want to hear the whole interview Goldie did on 790 The Ticket click here: It's two parts..
Download JMwithGoldie1.mp3
Download jmwithgoldie2.mp3

April 29, 2008

Rock the Vote -- Now, New Candidates!

Jacques JM the GM said last week that he would begin formulating his criteria for selecting a new coach of the Florida Panthers this week. Since today is Tuesday, I'm assuming JM has his thoughts in order and is about ready to start looking at good, quality candidates to coach the Panthers for the foreseeable future.

Of course, the new coach will be the 10th coach in the relatively short history of the Florida Panthers. That, kids, is a lot of instability. Consider this: Jacques Martin is the only coach in the history of the Panthers franchise to last three full seasons. Yes, the only one. Not coincidentally, JM is the franchise coaching leader in wins, losses and games.

We'll see if the new guy sticks around long enough to challenge those records.

Flick Anyway, a new feature at On Frozen Pond (stolen from old pal Gregory Cote down the street at MiamiHerald.com) is what I like to call the Frozen Poll.

Today's poll surrounds Martin's search for a new coach and who you, the loyal reader of On Frozen Pond, wants to see behind the Panthers bench. With the Sharks teetering on the brink of elimination, I figure Ron Wilson may be available sooner than later so I'm throwing him into the mix.

Vote early, and if you're from Miami-Dade County, feel free to vote often.

This Frozen Poll stays open for an entire month!

-- Folks have been emailing me wondering why they had not heard that Denis Potvin was a coaching candidate. As far as I know, he isn't. I just threw his name out there thinking if he was interested in the gig, the Panthers have to talk to him. But truthfully, I don't know if Denis is interested. He has a pretty good deal going now, and I know he enjoys his way of life.

-- After one full day of voting, here's what we got: Denis Potvin 24 percent; Randy Cunneyworth 22 percent; The Dancing Banana 22 percent; Bob Hartley 11 percent; Doug MacLean 9 percent; Ron Wilson 7 percent; Perry Pearn 6 percent.

April 24, 2008

News of the Day

MichelinmanSpent part of the morning at the BAC meeting with JM the GM. OK?

Got a little bit of news out of our meeting, some of which has been reported. But, I'm giving it to you anyways.

Sue me.

-- On the coaching search: No rush. None. JM was talking about August today. Says there are candidates who are still in the playoffs (thinking the Rangers' Perry Pearn) and says he'll put his list of qualifications together next week. Adds Mike Kitchen and Guy Charron have indicated they are interested in the job and will get their chance. Other than that, not much.

-- On his contract status: Nothing yet, although he says they are close to getting the deal done. He didn't seem all to worried about it.

-- On Michael Frolik: Nothing new to report here either. JM says the Panthers have made another offer and they are working toward a deal. Clock is ticking on this one. If Frolik isn't signed by June 1, he can re-enter the draft. Florida needs this deal to get done.

-- On Wade Belak: Had shoulder surgery ("something similar to Noah Welch") and will spend the summer rehabbing. That said, Martin wants Belak back and says a deal is in the works. Rostislav Olesz is also a deal the Panthers think will get done sooner than later.

-- On Steve Montador: I get the feeling we may have seen the last of Monty in a Florida sweater. Dude is going to get paid this year after having a career year, and I don't know that the Panthers are going to want to pony up the cash. JM says they want Monty back, but added that Monty probably is going to want to test the free agent waters. And, the Panthers "have a budget to think about.''

-- On Jay Bouwmeester: Nothing new to report here either. JM says the two sides have begun speaking.

-- On the Rochester Americans: The mess continues to grow. JM says the league is meeting with the team on May 5-6 "because they have some issues they have to deal with.'' JM says the Panthers are going to need a new deal with the Americans since the Panthers are going to be the lone parent team and will stock the team with players and coaches.

"We still feel strongly that it's a great market, a great fit for us,'' Martin said. "At the same time, we need the ownership issues resolved by the league. We'll work with the league on that. He needs to rectify his issues with the league and the city.''

Martin said both he and Randy Sexton will probably handle the Rochester hirings and signings, adding that the assistant GM usually handles the AHL operations but the Panthers haven't hammered that out yet.

A rumor floating out of Rochester was that the Panthers were interested in buying the Americans outright. False. The Panthers lost a bundle when they owned the San Antonio Rampage and don't want to go that route again.

-- Martin says all three of his assistants are under contracts, and "whoever becomes the head coach, those will be issues we'll have to work out.'' Martin wouldn't say whether any of the three would be back next year, but that would be up to the new coach. "We have things we need to consider,'' he said.