A Look Towards The Future: Jacob Markstrom

Photo Credit: Wikimedia CommonsAuthor: Canada Hky

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Author: Canada Hky

Let’s face it; ever since the Florida Panthers traded star goaltender Roberto Luongo to the Vancouver Canucks, they have been desperately trying to find a replacement goaltender. Since then we have seen players like Tomas Vokoun, Jose Theodore, and Scott Clemmensen take over as the man in between the pipes. The Panthers thought they have found their new guy when they brought in Tomas Vokoun. Despite playing well for four seasons in a Florida uniform, the team wasn’t having overall success. The Panthers then decided to go in a different direction, by signing Jose Theodore as their starting goalie prior to last year. The move turned out to be a success as the Panthers were able to clinch a playoff spot by winning the Southeast Division. Although Theodore helped lead the team to the playoffs, there were tons of rumors going around that Luongo wanted to come back to the Panthers; however, that never happened. During this span of  six years, the Panthers decided it would be a good idea to draft a goalie and groom him in the AHL. The goalie that was drafted was Jacob Markstrom. [Read more...]

10 Things That Must Be In Place When The Lockout Ends

thinker

I’ve been thinking.

I have admitted to life without hockey as being something that I can deal with.  I never would have thought that it was possible to be this far into a lockout where I actually can say that.  I didn’t come up with a plan B, nor did I slit my wrists or throat, or jump off a bridge either.  Surely there has been a Saturday night or two, or a weeknight here or there that could have been a bit more enjoyable with the best game on earth available for viewing.  However I have adapted.  And I’m still alive.  And if you’re reading this, then so are you.  Bad enough I happened to pick this year as the year to go out on my own and away from a network to start my own website.  But with the support of my terrific staff, and friends, it was well worth doing, and I wouldn’t have changed anything. Which brings me to where we are today.

There is talk that with the recent meetings, things could be settled soon.  Maybe as early as Friday, or Sunday, and that’s a good thing.  While I won’t start the parade until the ink is dry, and the official announcement has been made, I think that both sides have finally realized how silly this is, and that in order to preserve the game and whatever fanbase is left, a deal must be made.  Each side needs to give something up and feel some pain, which is what I have said all along.  That’s how negotiations like this go, and we might be on our way to that point right now.  But, if this last little get together ends up all for naught, then please cancel the season and don’t bother us until next year’s training camp.  It’s way too stressful.

[Read more...]

Is The End Finally Near?

Not the end of the world like on last night’s episode of Go On.  I’m talking about the NHL lockout.  Yesterday a group of players led by Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews sat across the table from a group of owners led by Ron Burkle of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The most interesting part of this meeting was that it was held without Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr.  Even better, it’s been determined that things are looking up, and that there is some “guarded” optimism that came from yesterday’s sessions.

It was reported by TSN that more meetings will be held today, which is true, as the discussions will be sandwiched between a scheduled board of governors meeting and a press conference by Gary Bettman at 1:00 P.M.  For the first time in weeks there seems to be something to be positive about, and both sides apparently seemed to be willing to give something up in order to settle this stalemate.  A stalemate that has reached ridiculos proportions, and has angered fans, cost people jobs, and has effected the economy of many franchises and the establishments around them.  But that is a whole ‘nother story isn’t it.

[Read more...]

A Look Towards The Future: Jonathan Huberdeau

When Dale Tallon took over as the Florida Panthers general manager on May 17th, 2010, a sense of hope was restored into, let’s be honest a franchise that wasn’t very good. In his first draft as the Panthers GM, Tallon took Erik Gudbranson, the big defender, who at the time was a young 18 years old. After watching Gudbranson play a full season with the Panthers, I think it is safe to say that that pick was definitely a home run, as the sky is the limit for Gudbranson. [Read more...]

Progress Report: Filip Kuba

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Author: Wknight94

Ever since the lockout became official, multiple players throughout the league decided it was in their best interest to take their talents overseas. There has been many high profile players signing with teams overseas, such as Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Florida Panthers are a team that has seen a lot of their talent go overseas. The team has seen the departure of players such as Dmitry Kulikov, Sean Bergenheim, Tomas Kopecky, Filip Kuba, Mike Santorelli, and Marcel Goc. [Read more...]

We Need To Talk

As a young man in my late teens and even into my 20’s, anytime I heard those four words nothing good ever came out of the conversation that took place afterwards.  Which in most cases usually involved a member of the opposite sex saying them to me while she attempted to deliver bad news in the most delicate fashion.  I’m sure all the fellas everyone reading this can relate to that.  Although once or twice I was on the delivering end of that, it’s still four words that scare the crap out of me.  But getting on track, here we are at day 72 of the NHL lockout and I do think that it’s time that we need to have this little chat.

After the latest proposal that was presented by the players association (led by Donald Fehr), which was rejected by the league last Wednesday, many are left to wonder at what point will this all silliness come to a close.  If you haven’t seen it, here is the NHLPA’s memo that outlined the offer that was put forth to the league.  If there is good news at all, it’s that the gap between the two sides in terms of dollars is closing.  Yet it’s the intricate details of the CBA that both sides continue to disagree on as well.  Length of contracts, arbitration, and qualifications of free agency are just a few of the details that also must be worked out.  Make no mistake however, similar to an unhappy marriage, money is one of the main issues here.

And as usual, after the proposal was turned down by the league, more and more players have become vocal about the current standoff.  Veteran Roman Hamrlik spoke out, and has been raked over the coals by some of his brethren publicly.  His remarks were quickly put to the test by Eric Cole who wasn’t shy about his feelings of Hamrlik’s remarks.  Hamrlik tries to explain himself here, but the damage has already been done.  The players union seems to be broken up into thirds.  Young players just beginning their careers that want to play (Erik Gudbranson of the Florida Panthers, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers), players that are approaching or heading into their primes (Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby), and players similar to Hamrlik who are at the end of their careers, and want to get their last year or two in.  Teemu Selanne is just one veteran player who we may never see again because of this lockout.  I read that there were over 200 player causualties from the last lockout in 2004-2005.  Players who never played in the NHL again.  It’s a sad state of affairs.

[Read more...]

Dmitry Kulikov Under Performing In Russia

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Author: Marcusvfx

Ever since the Florida Panthers drafted Dmitry Kulikov 14th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, he, along with Erik Gudbranson, have been labeled as “the future” of the Panthers defense.  In his first full three seasons with the Florida Panthers, Kulikov has been nothing but productive. Every year he continues to improve his game both offensively and defensively. Despite battling through a variety of injuries during the span of three years, Kulikov is continuing to prove to everyone that the Panthers made the correct decision when then selected him in the draft. The future is definitely looking bright for Dmitry here in Florida, however, as of now he still remains unsigned. The good thing for the Panthers is he has openly come out saying he wishes to return to the team once the lockout is over.

The lockout, yes we are all getting sick of it and we are all wishing it ends soon. It seems as if every week I get a text to my phone from ESPN saying that the two sides are in the process of negotiating a deal or are going to re-open talks come Monday. Unfortunately I have yet to get a text saying the two sides have come to an agreement and the season will start again in a few weeks.

Since the lockout began, multiple Panther players have gone overseas to continue to work on their game. Dmitry Kulikov is one of those players. It didn’t take long for Kulikov to make up his mind to go play overseas, as he signed with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl shortly after the lockout was announced. Although he has said that he would like to return to the Cats, Kulikov playing in Russia during the lockout has put a lot of us Panther fans on edge. There is no guarantee that he will return to the NHL once the lockout is over. What if realizes that he enjoys playing there more than he does in America? What if he realizes he could make more money while in Russia than he can here in America? If he does enjoy it more there and the opportunity to make more money comes out, what will stop him from coming back to playing in a Panther uniform? I am not saying he will stay over there, but since he isn’t currently under contract with us, the chances of him being able to stay there increase dramatically.

Enough of the, what ifs, let’s talk about how he is currently performing in Russia. Since joining Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Kulikov has played in a total of 15 games. To say that he has been under performing is an understatement in my opinion. Kulikov is basically playing like he is a rookie again. Even though he has shown that he could come through when it is needed, his overall play has left a lot to be desired. In the 15 games, Kulikov has scored a total of 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist). He also has a negative plus minus at -3 and on top of that, he has already been in the penalty box for a total of 22 minutes. In 58 games last season, Kulikov was only in the box for a total of 36 minutes. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come for him and he gets back to his old self. The good thing about all of this is Kulikov just celebrated his 22nd birthday just a few weeks ago, so he is still young and has plenty of time to mature. I just think that at this point, Panther fans and executives are just praying that he doesn’t sustain and injury.

Thanks For Reading!

Want More Hockey News? Follow The Rat Pack on Twitter! Me: @PP_Justen, Frank Rekas: @TheRatTrick Josh Luecht: @joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin: @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin: @GreatScottsman, David Rodriguez: @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis:@RatTrickLewiz, Adam Reid: @AdamReid_, Gabby Kiger: @gabbykiger, Chrissy Parente: @Chrissaay44, and Amanda Land: @HockeyGirl2530!

The Road To Irrelevance Is Near For Some

After five consecutive days of talks last week, there is no progress in the latest NHL labour negotiations.  What we have all been asking for (get both sides in a room, and let them hammer it out),  happened with no ending to yet another work stoppage in the current commissioner’s tenure.  The negotiating tactics of each side has left a fan base to ask themselves when will this end, and will they still care when it does.

This battle of millionaires versus billionaires has been about money, and well, money.  Certainly there are a few contractual issues that have to be ironed out and decided upon, but the end result will boil down to how to split revenue sharing, and at what cost will the players have to suffer.  When the league was willing to “give in” to the players request to settle at a 50/50 revenue split, most thought that we were on our way to a settlement.  However when the players union came back late as last week with a request to have player contracts honored in full for this season, you might as well have thrown the baby out with the bath water.  The greed unfortunately continues.

Steve Fehr thinks that there are only three things that need to be solved to get a deal completed.  Michael Grange describes the negotiations by one word.  Weird.  And flat out weird to be exact.  In either case, the public is growing tired of the ongoing tennis match with two sides who’s egos apparently wouldn’t fit inside  that stadium in Ann Arbour, Michigan (Winter Classic site).  With each day that passes more players are heading off to Europe to stay in shape, make a few bucks, and move on from what’s happening here in the states. [Read more...]

Filip Kuba Headed To HC Vitkovice Steel

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Author: Michael Miller

It is now official. The Florida Panthers have lost yet another player due to the NHL lockout. Filip Kuba, one of the newest members of the Florida Panthers, is now the newest member of HC Vitkovice Steel.  Filip Kuba, who recently signed a two year, $8 million deal with the Panthers this past offseason, is now taking his talents back to his native country of the Czech Republic. Kuba had previously played with HC Vitkovice on both a junior level and a professional level.

Throughout his nearly 15 year long career in the National Hockey League, Kuba has never been the guy who can completely take over a game; however, he has been as consistent as they come. Kuba, who isn’t exactly a goal scorer, gains most of his points every year by assists. Not only is he a great passer, he is also a very good defender. The one big knock on Kuba is he fails to make good use of his size. Standing at 6’4 and weighing in at around 225 pounds, Kuba should be known for being a big physical defender, but he is not. Once hockey starts back up here in America, it should be interesting to see exactly how he will fit in with this Panther team. Hopefully it ends up being a good signing for the Panthers, and at four million dollars a year, it better be.

The Panthers gave Kuba the contract they did because last year, Kuba was very productive. Even at 35, Kuba showed that he still has what it takes to produce for a team, scoring 32 points off of 6 goals and 26 assists. Despite what was a fantastic year, Kuba will be turning 36 next month. We Panther fans are hoping that he could continue to be productive even though he is getting up there in age. With the loss of Jason Garrison, Kuba needs to produce at a high level on both the offensive side and the defensive side.

Thanks For Reading!

Want More Hockey News? Follow The Rat Pack on Twitter! Me: @PP_Justen, Frank Rekas: @TheRatTrick Josh Luecht: @joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin: @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin: @GreatScottsman, David Rodriguez: @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis:@RatTrickLewiz, Adam Reid: @AdamReid_, Gabby Kiger: @gabbykiger, Chrissy Parente: @Chrissaay44, and Amanda Land: @HockeyGirl2530!

REDlines: I Just Wanna Be Numb

Maybe it’s the bug in my stomach I caught yesterday, or the time change from Sunday, but with each passing day I am getting more and more apathetic in regards to this lockout.  Even after days of meetings where both sides are finally “locked” in a room for hours, we still are no closer to the season starting than we were two weeks ago.  I worry about when we’ll start losing our passion and our interest in this game.  It’s going to happen, and maybe for some of you it already has.

For now, today, I am just “numb” about all this.

Here’s the latest of what’s going on:

Elliotte Friedman says the Gloves are off: CBC Sports.

Is it all lies?  Michael Grange from Sportsnet.

Are the players getting all the facts? Harrison Mooney from Puck Daddy.

After four days of talks there’s no progress.  TSN.ca.

It’s gloomy right now for sure, but that doesn’t mean that things can’t change on a dime.  Both sides seem far apart and no one appears to be in a rush to settle, however surprises are possible.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @TheRatTrick , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Josh Luecht@joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, David Rodriguez @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis @RatTrickLewiz Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Adam Reid@AdamReid Chrissy Parente @chrissaay44, Justen Rosenberg @justenrosenberg, Kris Eberwein @RatTrickKris, Lori Carpenter @lmcangel13, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

 

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