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Tag:Florida Panthers
Posted on: August 25, 2011 9:55 am
 

Daily Skate: B's Nathan Horton 'back to normal'

By Brian Stubits

HORTON NO LONGER HURTIN': In just his first postseason of his career, Nathan Horton seemed to be building a reputation as a playoff performer before he went down on a huge hit from Aaron Rome in the Stanley Cup Final that led to a concussion. But now Horton is feeling significantly better and says he's symptom free (from ESPN Boston). "I feel pretty good. I don't have any headaches. I'm back to normal and I'm excited to start playing again," Horton said. "It just takes some time and we had a little time to take off and I just feel like myself. I can't really tell you the timetable but it was really quick and I feel good."

FINE WITH FACEOFFS: The Columbus Blue Jackets haven't been the best team in the NHL over the years, but one area where they have been good is in the faceoff circle. They have a host of guys who are better than 50 percent on the draw. The Jackets Cannon blog talks about what that can do for the team beyond puck possession.

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: The Predatorial blog had some extra time on its hands so it decided to take a look at how teams fared on Saturday nights last season. Surprisingly, the worst record in the league (of teams that made the playoffs) was the Bruins, who won just 33 percent of their games. The best record of non-playoff teams? The Panthers, with a nice 58.8 winning percentage. Take a look at all the numbers for yourself.

NAME GAME: The San Jose Sharks have a new member on the blue line in Brent Burns, so naturally it's time to come up with some names for the defensive pairings. The Battle of California blog took its stab at names. The best of the bunch is for the pairing of Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic: Picklesnake.

ARIZONA STATE HOCKEY: Who says the Coyotes haven't made an impact in the desert? The Arizona State University Sun Devils are ramping up for another season of hockey as they chase a national championship (note: it is not a varsity sport, so the competition isn't the the heavyweights of college hockey).

QUEBEC COMEBACK: The push to get hockey to return to Quebec City continues. Now that Winnipeg has the Jets back, Nordiques fans are still hoping for the same. Here's a video making their case (and eyeing the Coyotes franchise as the prey).

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:04 pm
 

Daily Skate: National TV partners; remaining FAs

By Brian Stubits

MADE FOR TV GAMES: If you had one guess as to the most nationally televised matchup in the NHL since 1994, what would you pick? If you said Rangers-Flyers, you got it, and it's not even close. Puck The Media has compiled a list of the national broadcasts going back to 1994 and Rangers-Flyers takes the cake by eight games over Penguins-Flyers. Take a look at the whole list here. Notice a lot more mixtures containing the Rangers, Flyers and Red Wings. Earth shattering there, we know.

FREE AGENTS STILL FREE: Don't forget there are still some free agents floating out there looking for work. Guys like Bryan McCabe, Cory Stillman, Teemu Selanne and Chris Campoli haven't found contract offers as of yet. So Down Goes Brown helps the teams still shopping by providing a buyer's guide to the remaining players that is full of gems like this: Chris Campoli, the good: Is known as a puck-moving defenceman, which presumably makes him more valuable than a defenceman who insists on keeping the puck stationary at all times.

TOMAS THE TANK: The Panthers' rebuilding efforts were hardly met with universal praise across the hockey world. The majority of people outside of South Florida saw a bunch of overpriced, mediocre signings instead of impact spending. But Dale Tallon doesn't feel that way (of course not), especially about his most expensive forward addition, Tomas Fleischmann. Tallon told the Miami Herald that "[Fleischmann] hasn't reached his peak yet and numbers are just going to go up."

STILL LOOKING TO STRIKE OIL: The Oilers are still trying to work their way back up the Western Conference standings, and the best way to do that will be to get better in the defensive end. David Staples of the Edmonton Journal isn't exactly optimistic that will happen this season. Where he's holding out his hope is that the young defensemen will be better with another season because there isn't much else to inspire a feeling of blue line growth. He also has an injury update on the "lanky Yankee" Ryan Whitney.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 22, 2011 10:12 am
 

Daily Skate: Anybody like Alex Semin? Market talk

By Brian Stubits

EVERYBODY HATES SEMIN? With such vilified D.C. sports Stars like Albert Haynesworth and Gilbert Arenas no longer in town, it's time to wonder who, exactly, is Washington's most hated athlete? That's the question being presented by Capitals Outsider with the conclusion being that it might very well be recently maligned Caps forward Alex Semin. While he's still in the minor leagues, I have a feeling that Nationals prospect Bryce Harper might be on that list some day, unless Gregg Doyel can change minds.

MARKET VIABILITY: Since the Thrashers moved, the Islanders lost their vote on a new arena and the Coyotes have been on the block for seemingly a decade, the idea of relocation is constantly floating around the NHL. One go-to destination is always former NHL home Quebec City. But according to a Business Journal study (h/t to Puck Daddy) Quebec is way down the list of markets capable of hosting. Granted, this is a study that folks solely on the monetary aspects, that's why Honolulu and Atlanta are "more viable" destinations, but it's interesting to see nonetheless, even if it's not very practical.

U.S. LADIES LOSE: In the rubber match of their Women's Under-18 Series showdown, the American women lost a 3-1 first-period lead to the Canadians and dropped the final game by a score of 6-4. Women's hockey doesn't get much attention, but USA-Canada is good in any hockey match and provides for a very equal matchup in the women's side.

FANS SEEING RED: The Florida Panthers have had a massive renovation this offseason, much of publicly on the ice. But they have done a lot off the ice for to reach the fan base as well and among the ideas was to create a couple sections of super seats. The Panthers' home arena, the BankAtlantic Center, is a year-round facility that hosts numerous concerts and shows in addition to hockey. SO the idea seemed smart enough: sell some seats that are yours for whatever event is happening at the arena. The only problem? Long-time season-ticket holders sitting in those seats are going to be forced to pay a substantially higher price or forced to relocate, or even give up their tickets. Litter Box Cats has more.

JERSEY JUGGLE: Having a hard time keeping up with the different sweater changes this summer? Me too. Thankfully icethetics has the rundown of all the new sweaters and the tweaks we will see this season, such as this one.

Photo: Icethetics

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 17, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: August 17, 2011 4:06 pm
 

Matt Bradley calls out Alexander Semin

SeminBy: Adam Gretz

Matt Bradley, one of the Florida Panthers many offseason additions, appeared on TEAM 1200 radio in Ottawa this week and spent some time talking about his former team -- the Washington Capitals -- and what went wrong in the playoffs last season, particuarly why they were swept in the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 33-year-old Bradley said there were a few players that didn't show up in the playoffs, and that the locker room may have been a bit too nonchalant and undisciplined. He also added that some of the players that weren't playing well were getting the majority of the ice time.

His strongest words went in the direction of the supremely talented Alexander Semin, basically saying that he doesn't care to be one of the best players in the world (which he certainly has the talent to be).

Said Bradley, “I don’t mind saying Alexander Semin’s name because he’s one guy who has so much talent, he could easily be the best player in the league, and for whatever reason just doesn’t care. When you’ve got a guy like that you need him to be your best player, or one of your best players, and when he dosen’t show up, you almost get the sense that he wants to be back in Russia. That’s tough to win when you’ve got a guy like that who’s supposed to be your best player not being your best player. Or one of your best players."

After scoring 28 goals in 65 regular season games for the Capitals last season, Semin scored three goals in the Capitals five-game series with the New York Rangers in the opening round, before being limited to just one goal and an assist in the four-game series with Tampa Bay. He had just two assists for the Capitals during the first-round exit in 2009-10, but was also a point-per-game player in the playoffs during his first two postseason appearances in 2008 and 2009.

But the focal point of Bradley's comments were last season, where he was also asked if coach Bruce Boudreau maybe stuck with some of his star players a bit too long.

"There were a lot of guys who played well that didn’t probably play as much as they needed to," said Bradley. "But I love Bruce and Bruce is a great coach. He was in a very tough position there because in Washington our top guys are definitely the Stars and the guys that people want to see on the ice, so I totally understand. That just doesn’t happen on our team, it happens on a lot of teams. When you’re paying your top guys a lot of money and those guys carry you through the whole season, and if one of them isn’t going, it’s very hard not to play them. And I understand that’s tough. But I think in the end if you want to win, sometimes you have to sit some of those guys down and maybe send a message and try to get them going."

It wasn't all bad, however, as Bradley said he never worries about Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and insisted that he's "all in" as far as winning. He did add that Ovechkin may need to grow up a little in terms of taking care of himself (perhaps he was referring to this?), but that he also simply wants to win hockey games.

You can listen to the interview in its entirety by clicking here.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:32 am
Edited on: August 8, 2011 11:53 am
 

Daily Skate: Top showings at junior tryouts

By Brian Stubits

HAPPY CAMPERS: In preparation for the hockey World Juniors at the end of this year, Team Canada held some scrimmages this weekend Alberta and a few prospects came away with very impressive weekends. Leading the way is Ottawa Senators prospect Mark Stone, who had two goals and three assists in the final game of the weekend, giving him a total of four goals in the camp, the highest total. Florida Panthers top pick in this past draft, Jonathan Huberdeau, also excelled with two goals in the final game, giving him three for the camp. As always, Team Canada will have quite a stock of players to pick from for its final roster that is set to open the Worlds on Dec. 26 in Edmonton. TSN had a wrapup of the scrimmages.

AMERICAN UPDATE: While the camp continues in Canada for the World Juniors roster, the same is going on in the good ol' U.S. of A. America's roster for the Juniors needs to be set, too, and so the 44 players in camp just finished a pair of intrasquad games before taking on Sweden and Finland for a few friendlies. The top performances in the scrimmages go to Kenny Agostino (drafted in 2010 by the Penguins), who tallied a goal and three assists. Austin Watson (2010 selection of the Predators) checked in with two goals and an assist. Rangers top pick in this year's draft J.T. Miller was among those who racked up two points on two goals.

RETURN TO GLORY? You might remember that the St. Louis Blues signed former Sharks star Jonathan Cheechoo to a two-way contract earlier this offseason, hoping he could find the magic that helped lead him to a 56-goal season with San Jose. Cheechoo talked with Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News about what he's been up to, the continued support he receives in the Bay Area and how he (and the Blues) are hoping a new workout regimen will help him regain his old speed and, hopefully, old game.

DISCOVERING THE PACIFIC: For a fun -- and informative! -- link, check out this submission by flyersgoalscoredby.com on the defunct Pacific Hockey League. Did you know that more than 20 years after he became the first African American to play in the NHL, Willie O'Ree played for the San Diego Hawks at 42? And how about the names Tucson Rustlers, San Francisco Shamrocks and Phoenix Roadrunners? Small-time hockey is awesome. This coming from a guy who grew up watching a league with teams named the Sabercats, Gila Monsters, Rage and Fog.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.



Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:05 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 10:16 pm
 

Florida Panthers latest unique ticket promotion

Panthers

By: Adam Gretz


Over the past couple of years the Florida Panthers have tried countless promotions to get people into the arena.

They've promised free tickets for non-playoff seasons, used NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus to "negotiate" lower prices, and even marketed ticket packages to fans of visiting teams, including the Montreal Canadiens, a group of people that needs no financial incentive to travel around North America to see their team play.

That last one makes their latest promotion seem a little ... odd.

Starting this season the Panthers will be offering tickets in "The Red Zone," a group of tickets from sections 105-114 that will start at $25 per game, must be purchased as part of a season ticket package (full, half or mini) and include one rather large statement: Visiting fans not welcome.

We're not quite sure how that will work, because even though the seats have to be sold as a season ticket package, what's stopping a season ticket holder in one of those sections from selling their seat for an individual game to a person that happens to be a Lightning fan or a Maple Leafs fan? Will he/she not be allowed into the section? What if a season ticket holder brings a friend that's a fan of the opposing team? (Because I was curious, I sent these questions of great importance to the Panthers and am currently waiting for a response).

UPDATE:  A Panthers rep tells us there's nothing specific they're doing to keep opposing fans out of that area but they are specifically targeting Panthers die-hards with the promotion. The rep also adds that because it's a season ticket the sheer bulk will deter an opposing fan from purchasing the ticket on their own because they could obviously purchase a single game seat elsewhere.

So there you go.

Here's what team president Michael Yormark had to say in a team press release:
“The Red Zone is a place for passionate and committed Florida Panthers fans – that may not already be season ticket holders – to be among their dedicated peers and set the tone for every Cats home game at the BankAtlantic Center,” said SSE president & COO Michael R. Yormark. “In addition, our great partners at South Florida Ford are giving fans an opportunity to ‘see red’ even more in a 2011 Ford Focus. The Red Zone is just the latest extension of our ‘We See Red’ campaign and the full-scale red conversion of our franchise including the new red home jerseys, red lower bowl seats, red paint and signage in the arena and the new blood that will be featured on the Panthers’ opening night roster.”
As always, I give the Panthers credit for trying something different. The Panthers are in the middle of the longest playoff drought in NHL history and playing in a "non-traditional" market. That combination can be a tough sell, and sometimes you have to be a little different, if not completely outrageous, to get people in the building.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Category: NHL
Posted on: August 4, 2011 12:20 pm
 

Panthers coach Dineen removes doors from office

By Brian Stubits

New Panthers coach Kevin Dineen is taking his open-door policy literally.

The rookie NHL coach has taken a lot of steps already to change things around in Florida. One of them was removing the doors from their hinges to make sure communication in the locker room isn't an issue. From the Saratogian:

"You can say that you've got an open-door policy, but you know what? When there's no door there it makes for a free flow of information both ways. It's a little easier when you walk down the hallway instead of having to wonder what’s going on behind there. So I just asked them to take a couple of those doors off the hinges," Dineen said, smiling.

This isn't a brand new idea that Dineen has launched. It's been done before. But that doesn't mean it's pointless. The design of it is to partly get a message across to the team that he'll listen, more or less that he is a player's coach. When you are trying to turn a franchise around, that openness helps.

Now maybe they can all discuss their goals together.

"I liken it to getting on a bus and looking at where you're going," Dineen said. "We all want the Stanley Cup. That's what we’re shooting for. The quality team that's been put together gives us an opportunity to say that. Really, it's who you’re on the bus with."

And who is through the doorway.

Photo: US Presswire

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 29, 2011 12:58 pm
 

Rebuilding of the Panthers through Weiss' eyes

By Brian Stubits

They sound like the buzzwords of a political campaign.

Change.

Hope.

New direction.

The blue print.

These have nothing to do with dysfunctional Florida politics. They are the words and phrases mentioned in the state about its moribound hockey team, the Florida Panthers.

There is nobody who knows about the team's optimisim and defeat better than the current longest-tenured Panther, Stephen Weiss. He has been there through it all, never leaving the organization after it made him its top selection in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. After seeing unparralleled misery -- 10 straight years of missing the playoffs -- he says the vibe is starting to match the rhetoric.

"Personally I do [have a new-found excitement] just because I feel like I don't really know anybody any more," Weiss said. "So I'm kind of getting those butterflies as if I'm going to a new team, new scenario, new coaches again. That's always exciting."

Excitement that the Panthers are going the right direction? Imagine that. Buzz is what general manager Dale Tallon brought with him. It has been a long time coming in South Florida.

The Cats made the most noise on the first day of free agency. Florida went out and payed -- most say overpayed -- to completely overhaul their roster from just a few months before. The Panthers traded for veteran defenseman Brian Campbell and winger Kris Versteeg, then signed Ed Jovanovski, Scottie Upshall, Tomas Fleischmann, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim, Jose Theodore and Tomas Kopecky. Ever since, people have criticized Tallon for overspending, but the Panthers had a cap floor to reach, so they had little choice but to spend money.

It's hard to argue, however, that after the first few days of July, Florida isn't a better team than it was before. If nothing else, the Panthers grabbed attention across the NHL.

"Around the league I hope it has given us a little bit more respect, that we're starting to turn the corner and starting to put some things together," Weiss said.

Even while the Panthers were trending in South Florida, on one of the biggest days in franchise history, Weiss wasn't keeping close tabs. He was instead vacationing at his uncle's cottage an hour north of Toronto, cell phone off. Later that night, he turned his phone on and saw the stream of text messages from friends, letting him know what Tallon had been up to.

"I'm certainly super excited to get that many guys and that many quality guys, it's unbelievable," Weiss said. "It's going to help us a lot. Totally changed our team around and made us younger and faster and more skilled. It's something that has needed to be done for a while and it's pretty neat that Dale's been able to do it. I can't wait to get to camp.

"That's just the start of it. Now, you have to back it up and put it on the ice. That's up to the guys and I'm sure we're all excited to do that."

Weiss has seen his fair share of new teammates and coaches in his camp days. That will once again be the situation this year as the team breaks in new coach Kevin Dineen to go along with the new faces. Dineen's task in his first NHL job will be to mold the players together and quickly find some cohesion. It is one which harkens back to the team's days at the old Miami Arena, also their most successful period in franchise history. That's when they had to start from scratch, literally building the franchise from nothing. With such turnover, it feels like they are doing the same again.

Bringing in so many new players in one offseason will present a challenge. But how big? Some say huge. It's one of the criticisms that has been levied against Tallon's spending spree. And it is not as if he is bringing a bunch of fresh faces into an established old guard. As far as Panthers holdovers go, the only veterans to speak of are Weiss and David Booth. Nobody else has been with the team for more than three seasons.

Sure, guys like Jovanovski have been in Florida before as the Panthers made him the first overall pick in 1994, but not with this cast of characters.

So will it be an issue? Weiss' inclination is no.

"There's always -- especially now with the way things are run -- there's a lot of turnover on teams year-to-year and that can be an issue with every single team, chemistry and things like that can be an issue with new guys," Weiss said. "I guess more so for us because we have so many, but at this level I don't think that's as big of a deal."

It better not be if this is going to be the group of guys to end the NHL's standard for futility.

Let's not forget that Tallon's blue print includes building the team through the draft. The Panthers did not have the richest farm system in hockey despite their years of picking in the lottery, but that has changed under Tallon's watch. Soon Florida will be looking to bring aboard recent draft picks Jacob Markstrom, Erik Gudbranson, Quinton Howden and Jonathan Huberdeau, among others. That's the new guard, the future of Panthers hockey.

And that's something Stephen Weiss can relate to. He, too, was once the future of the Panthers. Now he's the present, trying to get things turned around. Still.

"I never really envisioned thinking it would take this long to get things turned around here, but it is what it is," Weiss said. "It's really kind of bugging me deep down we haven't been able to put it together and get it done. Seeing the success [former teammates Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg] had in Boston just kind of fuels you even more to get it done."

The closest the Panthers have come to competing for the Stanley Cup in the past 10 years was 2008-09, when they finished tied with the Montreal Canadiens in points and wins for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Florida, however, went 1-2-1 in the season series and lost out on the second tiebreaker, left tantalizingly close, but yet so far.

Having never appeared in an NHL playoff game, Weiss does not know the feeling of reaching the postseason, but he is aware of what it would mean to him after so many years of watching from home.

"It would mean the world to me, really," Weiss said. "I wanted to honor the contract that I signed there and I want to make it happen there.

"I have some pretty high expectations for this team this year. I think deep down this could be our year."

Finally, Weiss and the Panthers are seeing a light at the end the darkest tunnel in team history.

Photo: US Presswire

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com