Former Panthers: Where Are They Now?

It’s should come as no surprise to you that there are a large number of for Florida Panthers roaming around the NHL.

As a few members of the Parkway crew and I started compiling this list we came to realize that there are a lot and I mean A LOT of former Florida Panthers in the NHL. As the “Era of Sell” comes to a close there may not be as many former Panthers as we’ve seen the past few seasons so I thought it would be appropriate to profile these ex-cats in memory of their service to Sunrise.

Player: Stephen Weiss

Fictional Twitter Handle: @WeissWeissBaby

Current Team: Detroit Red Wings

Highlight with Current Team: Pavel Datsyuk said hi to him

Fun Off-Ice Fact: He was mistaken for Eminem while at an Arby’s once

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You Can Come Home. Welcome Back Bobby Lou.

The Florida Panthers return to the BB & T Center tonight after a three game road trip with some new faces, and one very familiar one.  As is par the course for the Panthers over the last few seasons, being active at the trade deadline was always interesting but never more exiting than it was this time around.  With playoff hopes all but distinguished, and certain players being coveted by teams looking to bolster their roster for a playoff run, Dale Tallon did his best version of Monty Hall (Let’s Make a Deal host to you youngins’), to the sheer enjoyment of the Panthers fan base.  If you’re one of those mad about Tim Thomas being traded away, you really don’t get it do you?  And you might as well stop reading now.

When the Florida Panthers take on the Buffalo Sabres tonight, there will be a familiar face behind the goalie mask protecting the net for Florida, and he’ll be wearing number one.  Roberto Luongo, who played for the Panthers for five seasons before he was traded to the hockey hot bed of Vancouver, is back home where he wants to be, and where he wanted to be two years ago.  Luongo who played for the Canucks for almost 8 full seasons finally got his wish and was traded away from the NHL’s version of “Days of Our Lives” in what was almost a steal for Tallon.  Having sent  Shawn Matthias who needed a change of scenery, and Jacob Markstrom the goalie of the future who never realized when his future was starting to Vancouver, Dale fleeced Mike Gillis.  He also was able to convince Gillis into paying a portion of Lou’s salary.  Gillis’ tenure in VanCity could be short lived, but that’s another story.

Not many players waive their no trade clause to come to Florida, but with the shenanigans that Luongo had to deal with, you can’t help but understand why.  The last straw may have come when Canucks coach John Tortorella told Bobby Lou that Eddie Lack, yes that Eddie Lack would be starting in the Heritage Classic this past Sunday against the Ottawa Senators.  Reports indicate that Luongo’s agent then began to put on a full court press in an effort to get a deal made to rescue his prize client from the on going circus, and my guess is the first area code he dialed was 954.  Luongo wanted to come to Florida two seasons ago, but financially the deal just didn’t make sense for the Panthers.  Now, with new ownership, and a higher salary cap, the Panthers can afford the average cap hit of $5.333 million dollars, 15% of which the Canucks are paying.

This trade now makes sense and the Panthers are better.  We’ll see a glimpse of that tonight, and for the remaining weeks of the season. There aren’t many players that really want to be here, but Lou does, and that must count for something.  Let’s not anoint him as the savior, but let’s certainly come to grips with the fact that if the rest of the team plays to their capacity for 60 minutes, the chances of winning are that much greater.

Those of you who know me and follow me on Twitter have become quite accustomed to my snarky remarks not only about the Canucks (those won’t stop), but also about Mr. Luongo.  However, the mature adult in me has come to realize that he was in a situation that no professional athlete should ever have to go through.  To make a long story short, I have buried the hatchet, and realize that having Luongo for the next few seasons stabilize’s a very important position, and will allow the Panthers to improve in other areas, giving them a chance to become a playoff contender in the very near future. He doesn’t have to be great, he just has to be very good.

As the second era of Bobby Lou starts, promise yourselves one thing.  Don’t rehash why he was traded away, and whatever you thought about the deal at the time.  It’s old news, it doesn’t matter anymore, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s counter productive.  Move on to more positive thoughts, and realize that while there’s still more work to be done, the Panthers along with new ownership, and Tallon at the helm, are committed to changing the atmosphere and the fortune of this franchise.

It all starts tonight.

Here’s your game day song:  Kitty’s Back.  An awesome 16 minutes from Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, and Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop,  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Panther Parkway Radio: Luongo Returns, Thomas and Goc Traded, Winners and Losers from Trade Deadline Day & More!

Tune in to tonight’s show where we discuss the biggest Florida Panthers news of the week with the acquisition of Roberto Luongo! Also, the guys and gals of Panther Parkway discuss the Tim Thomas and Marcel Goc trades, as well as the winners and losers of Trade Deadline day!

Host: Paige Lewis

Guests:  Jameson Cooper and Mike Lewis (no relations to Paige)

Topics

  • Luongo returns, Matthias and Markstrom traded
  • Tim Thomas traded to Dallas, Dan Ellis traded to Florida
  • Marcel Goc traded to Pittsburgh. Who replaces him?
  • What does the future of our team look like now?
  • Winners and losers of Trade Deadline day.

 Click the link below for today’s podcast!

New Episode Here

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Tim Thomas Traded to Dallas in Exchange for Dan Ellis

Yesterday, the Florida Panthers had the irony of a possible Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo tandem in net, but unfortunately for twitter users and hockey faithful, the Thomas and Luongo jokes will be put on pause as the Panthers announced Wednesday afternoon that they have traded Thomas to the Dallas Stars for G Dan Ellis.

Thomas, 39, has competed in 40 games with the Panthers since signing as a free agent last summer, posting a record of 16-20-3, while recording a .909 save percentage.

Though Thomas had a no-trade clause (NTC) to his contract, the signing of Luongo all but solidified Thomas’ future with the Panthers organization. When asked about waving his NTC, he told George Richards of the Miami Herald, “That’s something that hadn’t been discussed until this point. That needs some discussion before comment.”

With years of experience, a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe to his resume, Thomas has the credentials any playoff contender would be lucky to have.

Ellis, 33, has a cap hit of $900,000 and is signed until the 2014-2015 season. He has competed in 14 games with the Stars this season, sporting a .900 save percentage.

Panther Parkway wishes Tim Thomas the best of luck in Dallas!

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

GIF: Tim Thomas Saves The Panthers … From His Butt

Tied at four with under five minutes remaining, Capitals’ defenseman Mike Green found himself on a breakaway with a chance to potentially put the final nail in the Panthers’ coffin for the evening.

Possibly caught off guard by Green’s swift exit from the penalty box, Panthers’ netminder Tim Thomas fell to the ice while coming out to challenge the charging Capitals skater.

As Panthers’ fans quickly covered their eyes at what looked to be a sure goal, a miracle happened.

Unable to get back up in time, Thomas sprawled out and made possibly his most spectacular save of the season … from his butt.

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Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Maple Leafs. One False Move, And Baby The Lights Go Out.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 21-25-7 (49 PTS.) vs. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: 28-21-6 (62 PTS.)

TSN GAMEDAY

GAME DAY SONG:  The hauntingly perfect Point Blank from 1978, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

After a thrilling and emotional come from behind victory in Detroit on Sunday, the Florida Panthers got beaned in Boston Tuesday night by a score of 6-2.  While the Panthers have had some real character wins this season, it’s difficult to come back from a 4 goal deficit especially against a team like the Boston Bruins.  The Panthers weren’t in the game from the beginning, as the Bruins were all over them putting 19 shots on goal in the opening period.  If not for Tim Thomas, it could have been over in the first 20 minutes.

Slow starts and the excuses for them are beginning to get old, but let’s put that into perspective.  The Panthers have given up the first goal of the game in 33 of 53 games.  Despite the fact that they’ve managed some comebacks, their record is 8-21-4 when the opposition scores first.  That right there will be the biggest factor keeping Florida out of the post season, which as we know is a pipe dream anyway, but at one point there was some hope.  Let’s be brutaly honest, it appears now that any chance has all but faded.

Let’s admit as well that Boston is one of the elite teams in the East, and very difficult to play against.  However when you sit both Erik Gudbranson and Krys Barch two of your most physical players, you don’t stand much of a chance to compete with a team like the Bruins who are known for being nasty, as well as skilled.  Understanding the decision to keep those players out of Tuesday’s game isn’t easy.  Which again points to the fact that the Panthers must be more physical overall, otherwise teams will continue to push them around.

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No Disciplinary Hearing for Tim Thomas

After last nights shellacking against the Boston Bruins, word spread like wild fire that Tim Thomas could face the wrath of NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his high-stick swing on Carl Soderberg seconds before the final buzzer of the 6-2 loss. 

It was announced this morning that Thomas would not face any consequences for the hit. Thomas received a 2-minute minor for the incident.

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Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Bruins. It’ll Be Right, And It’ll Be Tonight.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 21-24-7 (49 PTS.) vs. BOSTON BRUINS: 32-15-3 (67 PTS)

TSN GAMEDAY

GAME DAY SONG: Night,  Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Depending on what side of the fence you’re on, Sunday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings was a shocker.  For Florida Panther fans the game was almost over. especially when the Red Wings took a 4-2 lead during the final period.  Yet somehow the Panthers scratched and clawed their way back from two separate two goal deficits and managed to tie the game at 4 sending it to overtime.

The Red Wings seemed to control the play during the extra five minutes, and at one point the Panthers looked as though they were about to run out of gas.  But the magnificent goaltending of Tim Thomas kept the game tied sending it to a shootout.

The Panthers would only need a goal by rookie Nick Bjugstad and three stellar saves by Thomas to “steal” the game from the Wings.  It may not have been pretty, but it sure was nervewracking, yet nonetheless the Panthers pulled out a win that they really shouldn’t have.  Coach Peter Horachek was pleased with the end result:

“There were many things we didn’t do right, but we got two points in a character game,” Florida coach Peter Horachek said.

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Florida Panthers Getting Their Bang For Their Buck

The money situation seemingly has changed for the Florida Panthers as new Owner Vincent Viola has given General Manager Dale Tallon the go ahead to spend to the cap in the upcoming offseason. This is not the norm for the Panthers who have had a history of pinching pennies when it came to bringing players in. Just hit the rewind button for a second and go back to last summer when the Panthers entered free agency with a very tight budget. The Panthers were unable to compete with the wallet of the Detroit Red Wings and lost Stephen Weiss, a fan favorite and the Panthers’ longest tenured player to the motor city, and just like that the Panthers were without their first line center.

Strapped for cash, the Panthers did not jump into the deep end of the free agent pool to pad their roster, but rather dipped their toes in to test the water. Florida signed a mixed bag of veterans from all ends of the hockey world. The Panthers signed depth winger, Joey Crabb (two-year, one-way, $600,000),  fringe defenseman, Matt Gilroy (one-year, two-way, $700,000), journeyman defenseman, Mike Mottau (one-year, two-way, $700,000), former two-time All-Star, Scott Gomez (one-year, one-Way, $900,000) and former Ottawa Senators forward, Jesse Winchester (one-year, two-way, $600,000). The Panthers made more of a ripple in the free agent pool than a splash, really.

Tallon was adamant that he would wait for players to lower their price tags before making any further moves. As training camp inched closer, the question marks in the Florida’s lineup remained. The Panthers were still in need of defensemen, forwards and dependable goaltending. With an impending ownership change, Tallon invited New York Islanders castoff, Brad Boyes, former Minnesota Wild buyout, Tom Gilbert and ex-Tampa Bay Lightning blue liner, Brett Clark to the team’s training camp for pro tryouts. The final and most interesting of all the pro tryouts would be the goaltending tryouts. The Panthers extended an invitation to the former Philadelphia Flyers netminder and media darling, Ilya Bryzgalov, who did not report. The other invitation went to the 2010-11 Stanley Cup champion and MVP, Tim Thomas.

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Panthers Lack Of Offense Is Offensive

The title of this post has a dual purpose.  To state the obvious, and to grab your attention.  Now that I have it, lets begin the discussion.

It’s been no secret to anyone who follows this team that scoring has been a problem for years.  To find the last legitimate and consistent scoring threat that the Florida Panthers had you’ll have to go back to the 2007-2008 season when Olli Jokinen scored 34 goals.  Previous to that he scored 39 and 38 respectively.  In 2007-2008, 18 of those goals were scored on the power play and 5 were game winners.  In the two previous seasons to that he combined for 25 power play goals and 17 game winners as he played for Panthers’ teams that were hauntingly similar to this years version…offensively challenged.  Jokinen however lost a power struggle with Jacques Martin, who proved he had no business being a general manager by trading Jokinen for two defencemen, thus stripping the Panthers of any offensive threat on the team.  And the search for scoring has been ongoing ever since.

Fast forward to this season, and scoring remains the main reason for the teams’ performance, or lack thereof.  The Panthers are 28th in the NHL in scoring with 111 goals, putting them ahead of only the Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres.  The team leader in goals is Brad Boyes who has 12 in 46 games, followed by Nick Bjugstad and Sean Bergenheim who have 10 each.  The top line of Aleksander Barkov, Boyes and Bergenheim is the only line of late that is creating scoring chances.  In Saturday night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, that line generated a whopping 16 of the 39 total shots that the team took.  Ironically only one came on the power play and they were held off the scoresheet. We’re certainly seeing shades of the 2011-2012 when the top line of Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss were the only line that Florida could count on regularly.

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