Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Back in the good, old days of the Florida Panthers — when they were only six years removed from going to the Stanley Cup Finals and trying to kiss up to fans after trading superstar Pavel Bure — the Panthers tried mightily to put butts in the seats.
If you were a cop or fireman or any kind of first responder, freebie. If you had a military ID, freebie. If you showed up at the box office with a driver’s license from, say, Plantation or Boca Raton on a certain promo day … freebie.
Head to a car dealership, tickets would sit on the front counter. Have lunch near the Panthers’ palace of an arena, four free tickets might come with your meal. Go shopping at Sawgrass Mills, you’d surely run into a Panthers account rep with a stack of tickets.
This may be stunning to hear, but it didn’t take long for season-ticket holders to become a wee bit incensed with the Panthers’ practice of flooding the marketplace with freebies and deeply discounted tickets. Imagine spending $2,500 for lower-bowl seats right next to a family of four every night who didn’t pay a penny.
continued plus more NHL talk in Russo's NHL Insider column...
No penalty from the hit...
Sunrise, FL- Florida Panthers Head Coach Gerard Gallant announced today that D Willie Mitchell has been named captain for the 2014-15 season. He joins Brian Skrudland (1993-1997), Scott Mellanby (1997-2001), Paul Laus/Pavel Bure (2001-2002), Olli Jokinen (2005-2008), Bryan McCabe (2009-2011) and Ed Jovanovski (2013-2014) as the other team captains in the club’s 21-year history.
Mitchell, 37, has played in 795 career National Hockey League games for New Jersey (1999-2001), Minnesota (2000-2006), Dallas (2005-2006), Vancouver (2006-2010) and Los Angeles (2010-2014), scoring 30 goals with 135 assists and 744 penalty minutes. He has played in 89 post-season games, registering 16 points (4-12-16), winning the Stanley Cup twice with Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014.
Mitchell served as captain of the Wild in January of 2006 during Minnesota’s rotating captaincy as well as an alternate captain in Vancouver.
"He's an 18-year-old kid and we know he's going to be a great hockey player. But this is a big step. A lot of people can attest that playing defense at 18 in the NHL means you have to be a special player. We're going to go game-by-game and see how he gets along. We're not going to rush anyone.''
-Gerard Gallant, head coach of the Florida Panthers on #1 pick Aaron Ekblad. More on Ekblad from George Richards of On Frozen Pond.
An Open Letter To Their Fans...
As we close in on the one-year anniversary of our ownership of the Florida Panthers, we want to reiterate our commitment to Broward County, South Florida and our Panthers fans and business partners. As we said at the press conference when we bought the team, we view ourselves as stewards of the team for the community and our plan is to build an organization that makes South Florida proud and to win the Stanley Cup in South Florida. Despite media speculation to the contrary, we have no plans or intentions to move this franchise.
We made a commitment to the Panthers and to South Florida when we bought the team to build a successful organization on and off the ice. We have been working hard to live up to that commitment. Starting with the trade to bring Roberto Luongo, one of the world’s top goaltenders, back home to South Florida, and continuing with our committing over $80 million to new players, including bringing six talented veteran free agents to South Florida and resigning all of our restricted free agents, we have dedicated ourselves to improving the team. Off the ice, we continue to expand our community outreach initiatives and look forward to continue to contribute to the quality of life for residents.
It is no secret that the Panthers and BB&T Center have lost tremendous amounts of money over the last dozen years. We are working hard to address this situation, which we believe we can do with the support from our loyal fans, our business partners, the business community and our community-at-large.
We look forward to a winning season and bringing a Stanley Cup to South Florida.
With Warm Regards,
Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu, Co-Owners
from Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel,
As Panthers rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad dug the puck out of the corner during a half-ice drill during the first prospects practice Friday morning at the team facility, all eyes were on him, particularly an interested set owned by NHL legend Denis Potvin.
The comparisons are obvious. Potvin, who's back for a second stint as Panthers television analyst, was also the overall No. 1 draft pick, albeit 31 years earlier in 1973. Both are from Ontario and considered offensive-defensemen. Both wore No. 5 on their backs and both were expected to make an immediate impact in the NHL as teenagers.
Potvin did. The Panthers are hoping Ekblad will....
"[Ekblad's] not as good-looking as I was,'' joked Potvin, who had 54 points his first year and 310 career goals to go with a career plus-minus of 460, sixth best all-time. "The first thing I saw was great hands. When they were battling he protected the puck well and passed the puck well, which is important. He got a puck on the boards and made a saucer pass all the way to the blue line, which is nice!
"But the most important aspect of his development is how closely he gets to his coach, who will have the ultimate decision; that's where you're going to grow.''
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
Biggest story line to watch: Tallon on the hot seat. To think, just two years ago Tallon was a finalist for General Manager of the Year. Now he’s seemingly down to his last lifeline, having dismissed three head coaches during his attempt to rebuild the Cats the way he gradually helped steer the Blackhawks back to life in the 2000s. Having overhauled the roster and bringing Luongo, a true No. 1 goaltender, back to the Sunshine State, Tallon is officially in win-now mode. Pressure from new owner Vinnie Viola dictates it. Can his new players and coach save his job?
2014-15 prediction: The Panthers have only qualified for the playoffs once in the last 13 seasons. Come April, make that 14. Despite Tallon’s best efforts, Florida just doesn’t have the talent to outduel eight teams and steal a spot in the East.
from the Florida Panthers,
Florida Panthers Executive Vice President and General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that the club has agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract with D Aaron Ekblad.
“We are very pleased to have signed Aaron,” said Tallon. “He is a talented, strong, smart and hardworking defenseman who is ready to take the next step in his professional career. We look forward to watching him compete and develop at our prospects camp, throughout our main training camp and in preseason competition.”
from John Chidley-Hill of the Globe and Mail,
Aaron Ekblad is getting back to work.
The first overall draft pick of the Florida Panthers said on Saturday he’s free of any concussion-like symptoms less than three weeks after he took a hard hit in a world junior exhibition game.
“The concussion is perfectly, completely gone. I feel great,” said Ekblad. “I’ve been skating all this week, working out all this week. It’s gone. I feel great.”
The 18-year-old defenceman from Windsor, Ont., was injured on Aug. 6 at Canada’s world junior training camp in a game against the Czech Republic. The Canadians went on to win 6-2, but Hockey Canada and the Panthers agreed to keep Ekblad off the ice for the rest of the team’s summer development camp.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com