Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
via the Florida Panthers,
FOX Sports Florida, the regional television home of the Florida Panthers, today announced Denis Potvin has joined its roster of Panthers on-air talent as it expands their broadcast team for the 2014-15 season. In his new role, Potvin will return to the broadcast booth as color analyst, a position he previously held with the Florida Panthers for the club’s first 16 seasons in the National Hockey League.
Alongside play-by-play announcer Steve “Goldie” Goldstein, Potvin will provide a seasoned, exciting voice to Panthers’ television broadcasters after spending the past four seasons as color analyst for the Ottawa Senators. Bill Lindsay will remain an integral part of FOX Sports Florida’s Panthers broadcast team as he transitions to a new role this season as color analyst for Panthers LIVE! pregames, intermissions and postgame shows, along with providing a second analyst on-ice perspective for select games. Bill will join Drew Goldfarb, who returns for his second season as host of Panthers LIVE!
"We are pleased to welcome Denis back to the broadcast booth for the Florida Panthers," said Florida Panthers CEO & President Rory Babich. "With an exciting season on the ice right around the corner, the addition of Denis, a hockey legend with long-term ties to the organization, to the existing broadcast team of Steve, Billy and Drew promises to provide an enhanced experience for our TV viewers with one of the premier broadcast teams in the NHL."
“This was a great opportunity to expand and bolster our Panthers broadcast team by bringing in Denis, an NHL Hall of Famer and a veteran broadcaster with intimate knowledge of Florida Panthers Hockey and the team’s history in South Florida,” said Brett Opdyke, executive producer of FOX Sports Florida. “It also allows us to showcase Bill’s analyst skills on our Panthers LIVE! shows, and gives our broadcasts the added bonus of a second analyst “between the benches” on marquee games.”
from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News,
So I’m not surprised that Florida Panthers prospect Aaron Ekblad wanted to play at Canada’s world junior exhibition camp in Quebec. But why would the Panthers allow the No. 1 overall pick to play in the mini-tournament against the Czechs and Russians?
In speaking with execs from other teams (attempts to reach the Panthers were unsuccessful), they always like having their top prospects put in situations where they can develop, so it’s not crazy that Florida would want their most prominent draft pick to take on a leadership role in the summer and get some reps as he prepares for his first NHL training camp. Unfortunately, injuries are an unpredictable part of the game.
And after seeing their prized prospect get hurt Tuesday night on a hit from Czech defenseman Lukas Klok, the Panthers must be feeling like they rolled snake eyes.
For me, the question is this: What are the odds Ekblad actually plays for Canada at the world juniors this year? Florida may have some nice young defensemen in the pipeline, but there’s no reason to believe Ekblad can’t find a place in the team’s top six this fall. He has already played three years in the Ontario League with Barrie and his pedigree practically dictates that he will jump straight to the NHL.
more including a gif of the hit...
SUNRISE, Fla. – As announced earlier today by Team Canada, D Aaron Ekblad suffered a concussion during an exhibition game last night. We have been in communication with Team Canada and have mutually agreed to hold Aaron out for the remainder of the summer development camp, as a precautionary measure. We will closely monitor Aaron’s health for the remainder of the off-season and expect him to be ready for our rookie camp in mid-September.
from Alain Poupart at NHL.com,
Shawn Thornton first got to know Dale Tallon more than a decade ago. Now that the two have been reunited with the Florida Panthers, the veteran forward knows exactly what his new general manager expects from him.
"At this point, I know my role and the job fairly well," Thornton told South Florida media members Thursday. "Dale didn't need to stress it too much to me. We've known each other for a long time and I think he knows how self-aware I am, if I'm self-aware at all, and what he needs to tell me. So there wasn't too much being said, except that he was excited that I was excited to come there. I was very pleased that they were as interested."
Thornton, who turned 37 on July 23, joined the Panthers as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after the Boston Bruins decided against bringing him back for an eighth season. He was a popular player in Boston, in part because of his outgoing personality and also because of his role as the Bruins' enforcer.
"It's no different than anything in life," Thornton said. "You spend seven and a half years somewhere, you're going to have a lot of ties, you're going to have a lot of memories. I was fortunate to be on a pretty good team the last five years that I was here, so it was a lot of fond memories. But I'm excited for the next chapter.
from Jim Day of The Guardian,
Gerard “Turk’’ Gallant is guzzling a can of Zero Coke mid-morning moments after entering his home on the outskirts of Summerside.
He will likely have tossed back four sodas by day’s end, well down from the 10 or so daily pops he would drink during his playing days in the National Hockey League.
He has never been one for tea or coffee.
Gallant, 50, washed down a breakfast of steak and eggs with chocolate milk while speaking with The Guardian about his long career in hockey that now sees him readying for the 2014-15 NHL season as the Florida Panthers new head coach.
His tasteful personal hockey shrine in the room he describes as the “one we are never in’’ offers a snapshot of an impressive run in professional hockey that spans three decades and counting.
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.
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