Monday, September 24, 2012

The Cat's Meow: Day Nine

The days are long. Strenuous. Agonizing.

Today would have been the third day of Panthers' Training Camp. The first day of the NHL preseason. The Florida Panthers would have played their infamous doubleheader against the Nashville Predators today.


I can barely remember the last NHL lockout. 2004-2005. Seems so long ago, really. I was seven, I think. I didn't care too much about hockey back then. I wasn't suffering as much as I am now. Turning on ESPN is such a stretch for NHL fans, we absolutely despise it. They give us no airtime, and when they do, it's only a minute or so.

I can now say to you that I've officially caved.

I turned on ESPN this morning. I watched the highlights of last night's Ravens-Patriots game. And you know what? I still felt empty. I listened to them go on and on about Saturday's college football. Emptiness.

I'm hollow inside.

Each day, I come home from school, thinking that "OH! Hockey's on tonight!" Sadly, I come home to a hockey-less TV. Sure, there are other teams. The Dolphins. The Marlins. And soon even the Heat. But there is nothing that can fill my void. There is nothing that can replace the pure glee I feel when I turn on the TV, waiting for puck drop.

It's only Day Nine. Imagine me on Day 100. That is if I can make it that long. Who knows?

Players are jetting off to Europe, signing deals that will last them until the end of the lockout. Dream teams are being creating, even with some league restrictions of only three NHL players. Highlights that we NHL fans can only dream of now are being made, in Russia, in Switzerland, in the Czech Republic.

Alas, we are left to wait it out. Unlike the players who have signed deals, we must find time to busy ourselves with other things. Trivial things. Things like...that English paper due Monday.

Speaking of which, now is probably the time to get on it. Seeing that I have so much time.

Too much time. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Cat's Meow: Possible Lockout?

Ruchika Sharma covers the Florida Panthers for Teenlink. 

School is back and the days of summer are coming to an end. Though it's still hot in South Florida, the NHL is beginning to gear up for another season....or are they?

Rumours of a possible lockout have been swirling as early as June of a possible NHL lockout. The League's current CBA is set to expire on September 15th, a time when most teams are preparing for their training camps. The Florida Panthers training camp is slated to begin on September 22nd, 

After a profitable year of more than $3.3 billion, the NHL has proposed cutting the players' share of hockey-related revenue from 57% to 46%, which in reality drops to 43% when taking into account the revenues that the NHL will not share with its players. Commissioner Gary Bettman has even stated that if no deal is made by the deadline, the League is prepared to lockout its players. The League also wants to restrict free agency, in terms of limiting the length of contracts to five years (no current limits exist), and increasing the amount of time a player must wait until becoming an unrestricted free agent, from seven to ten years. In addition, the League also wants to eliminate players' rights to arbitration. 

The NHLPA, on the other hand, has proposed a three-year deal with an option to revert back to the old CBA during the fourth year. Players' compensation would grow at fixed rates, resulting in compensation being possibly being reduced by more than $800 million over the next three years, all depending on the League's revenue. Clubs in need of assistance would gain from a significantly expanded and simplified revenue sharing system. Additionally, there would be flexibility for teams as the new deal would help GMs to put their teams together: including the reward of additional draft picks for struggling teams, the allowance of teams to trade dollars and players under certain circumstances, and the allowance of small teams to go under or over the salary cap. 

As of now, talks between the League and the NHLPA are recessed. Sitting around and waiting has exhausted me. A day doesn't go by without me praying that the season will start on time. With smaller market teams like Los Angeles and South Florida suddenly beginning to flourish, the last thing the NHL needs right now is a lockout. With a profit year, and a growing fanbase, a lockout would only stunt the NHL's progress in trying to become a household sport. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Keep Calm and Create On


The uniforms that Nike contributes to college football are over the top. False. The uniforms that Nike puts out are all unique. Wrong again. Before I explain that behind all the glitzy photo shoots and martial wording Nike uniforms are very much similar; lets all agree that the University of Oregon’s un-uniform costumes are not a fair representation of Nike’s touch in College Football aesthetics.

            Remember five years ago when your school hosted a black out and your team came running out in uncharacteristic black jerseys? You felt special right? Until the rest of the country was doing the same exact thing the next week. You should feel the same today, but since Nike has stepped up their game, you don’t.

            I won’t lie: many Nike collegiate football uniforms are sick. I will; however, point out that many of them are extremely similar. (Resist immediately shaking your head) Nike uniforms all exhibit numerous identical characteristics, but are covered up by few traits that are customized to fit the individual customer, in our case, the individual college football team. Years ago it was the 1)Nike fly-wirethreads that teams sporting on the jersey’s shoulders, now 2)Nike jerseys are secured by a particular collar of leather webbing. 3)When the players put theirtwo gloves together it makes an image? Get out! next you’ll claim Notre Dame isn’t relevant or some complete nonsense like that! 4)Matte helmets started out cool but will be a thing of the past within two seasons. 5)Nike uniforms incorporate undershirts as an extension of the jersey, a new element to the tradition uniform. Check the inside of your 6)team’s collar, I bet there’s a phrase stitched that’ll send shivers down your spine. I didn’t guess that because your alma mater is unique, I know that because Nike does the same for a majority of their squads. Lastly, don’t give the folks up in Eugene, OR credit for supplying a team with 7)two or more helmet choices, isn’t that the logical thing to do when you run out of ideas?

            Besides inserting intimidating, war-like words to each of their products, the area where Nike excels and its competitors fail is personalized identification. For example, Nike took Rutgers: a squad who donned the brand’s usual outputs (matte helmets, an alternate jersey, flywire etc.) and produced a look that is recognizable and personal to Scarlet Knight fans. The jersey and pants currently still follow the usual Swoosh template, but is tattered with random ‘battlescars’, a tribute to the team’s medieval mascot. It is the small details like this one, like the faint tiger stripes revealed for Mizzou’s new SEC-worthy garb, like the sand colored footwear the Army black Knights run around in to tribute their service in desert warfare. The list is endless, chances are if you claim your team’s look is different than all the rest, it’s because Nike does a marvelous job at taking a quality but basic uniform and making it inimitable…just like the school the team represents.

            Where Nike produces highly recognizable products for the gridiron, its competitors do the exact opposite. Under Armour, the company based in Baltimore and known for creating those groundbreaking costumes Maryland wore last season, made steps in the right direction with the new look it applied to Northwestern last month. Byemphasizing the Northwestern stripe, a design that originated with the Wildcats, a non-Nike brand had finally put together a look that is different from the rest. Not so fast my friends, before I could even catch my breath after celebrating this accomplishment, UA leaked Maryland’s new uniforms for theupcoming season. Not only did they revert to the same Maryland state flag pattern of last season’s debacle, but the new look completely does away with the terrapin-inspired garb worn by the players a year ago. Back to square one as far as non-Nike schools go. Stick with a look guys: Notre Dame is blue and gold, with occasional green. So why last week did I see the “traditional” dynasty reveal multi-colored helmets to complement an overall gaudy look for their game in Chicago? Nebraska wearing black, Michigan altering therecognizable winged helmet? “What the Hell’s Goin’ On Out There!?” You’re killin’ me, underdogs.

            Nike is Dr. Jeckell, the Oregon Ducks are Mr. Hyde. When Nike returns to it’s crib in Eugene after producing respectable get-ups for collegiate football squads, the Swoosh that we all know morphs itself into a circular shape. From there, all Hell breaks loose: mirrors are added to helmets, colors are renamed after weather occurrences and uniform combinations are thrown together without second guesses. The swoosh started experimenting with the O long before the Ducks blinded us with theirhelmets at last year’s Rose Bowl Game. In fact it was architect and right hand man to Nike chairman Phil Knight, Tinker Hatfield, who first played the role of Hyde in creating outlandish products, then staining them with the Nike swoosh of approval. Hatfield, who also constructed the most groundbreaking footwear of the late 20th century, the Nike Air Max, was asked in 1996 by Knight to help better attract athletes to the University. The O was born, and with it, the false identity of the world’s most dominant athletic brand.

            Since the turn of the century, the folks up at Nike have used the University of Oregon as their very own lab rat: not only can the Ducks sport over 300 different uniform combinations on any given gameday, but it has become a tradition for Nike products to be debut by the company’s gem. It is crucial to observe that no other Nike school (or any other school for that matter) is comparable to Oregon when it comes to uniforms, because no other school is backed in the way that Nike supports the Ducks. Most importantly, it is this relationship that has broadened the gap between the look of Nike teams and the rest of the NCAA aesthetically, not even Maryland’s bond with Nike-rival Under Armour is comparable. What’s to come? I believe the next big thing to be overused and poorly duplicated will be both shiny helmets and ‘color-changing’ jerseys or pants. Have no fear, fans whose team doesn’t look ‘unique’ on Saturdays, as long as the Ducks flaunt around in obnoxious fashion, they’ll be enough Nike sparkle to trickle down.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Return of College Football

September 1, 2012, has been circled on my calendar since the end of the '11-'12 college football season. What is significant about this date, you ask? September 1 is the first University of Miami Hurricane football game of the '12-'13 football season, when Miami will face Boston College.

I am a huge football and Miami Hurricane fan, and I can't wait to see how new coach Al Golden will lead the team. For years my dad has taken my siblings and I to UM football games, and next year I might join my family at the games as a U of M student! I am hoping to be accepted into the University of Miami and am applying to go to college there next fall. After a long summer devoid of football, I can't wait to put on my UM t-shirt and head down to the stadium.

What college football team(s) do you cheer for?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Michael Phelps Swim School

Since 2004, the USA has cheered for and admired Michael Phelps' amazing talent and winning smile. For Michael Phelps fans and aspiring swimmers, the Michael Phelps Swim School is something to consider.

When Michael returned to Baltimore in 2009, he "began to invest in his dream, to grow the sport of swimming and get more children in the water," according to the MPSS official website,

MPSS features private and group lessons as well as summer camps at several locations. There are two sessions during the summer. Campers learn about leadership and sportsmanship, how to improve their skills and technique, and what it takes to "go for the gold" and to win gold medals. Campers also get to compete in swimming challenges for medals.

Michael said, "I always thought, it would be neat to make the Olympic team." You could be the next Olympian swimmer, and your career could start here. Learn more about the Michael Phelps Swim School at

Friday, July 20, 2012

Top 10 Most Captivating Competitors of the 2012 London Games

By: Keenan Bailey
1.      Usain Bolt
We all remember Usain Bolt breaking shattering world records in both the 100m and 200m sprints four years ago, we remember him easing to the finish line multiple strides ahead of his competition and we remember his flashy, celebratory, God-like pose after each race. This time around, the world expects perfection from the Jamaican track star, and will be disappointed with anything short of 2 new world records. Since catching the attention of the planet, Bolt has somewhat faulted in his world dominance, especially when he false started at last year’s world championships. With an increased amount of attention, unfairly high expectations and a teammate in Yohan Blake who plans on winning gold, the 2012 Olympic Games may be more demanding on Usain Bolt than any other athlete.
2.      Andy Murray
Not Lebron, not Neymar, not either Gasol, not even Bolt feels the weight of carrying an entire nation the way Andy Murray does. 1924…the last time a British tennis player has won an Olympic gold medal and no man since then is more ready to do so than Scottish-born Andy Murray. It will be a super-eerie déjà if the nation’s gem makes his way back to the finals at the All England Club, the site that hosted his emotional Wimbledon run. Although Murray was defeated by Roger Federer last month in the Wimbledon final, the match and Murray’s extremely emotional post-match ‘thank you’ speech addressed to Great Britain lit a flame of support for the classy competitor. A gold medal for Murray would mean so much more than just that, a proud history and an entire nation rides on his every forehand, backhand, serve and return.
3.      Ryan Lochte
No, I didn’t mean to insert Michael Phelps here. More captivating than the 16 Olympic medalist is his longtime teammate, friend, and rival Ryan Lochte, who in London will dominate the swimming megastar. Don’t be fooled by the two swimmer’s companionship during relays, when it comes time for the individual races both men will not spare the other to say the least: Phelps is competing to become the most decorated Olympian of all time, Lochte is looking to defend his 2011 World Championship.
4.      Lebron James
No one will accept anything short of gold. No one cares about injuries, fatigue, or lack of interest. As it has been since the Dream Team in 1992, the USA Men’s Basketball team is expected to not just win the gold at each Olympics, but is expected to do so with ease. By winning the ultra-elusive NBA Title this past June Lebron James put to rest many of his infinite critics, and by bringing a gold medal back to US soil the King has a chance to actually win them over! It will be a very unfamiliar tune, for James to be cheered on and be supported by the majority of American basketball fans, and it will be this warm feeling that’ll catapult the reigning Finals MVP to winning his second Olympic Gold Medal, the same number of gold medals won by this other guy, ummm…Jordan or something?
5.      Abby Wambach
The fact that our Men’s soccer team failed to qualify for the London games, and that the Women’s squad was defeated in the Championship Game of the 2011 World Cup puts pressure on the Soccer captain to bring home gold from London. Known for her powerful headers and her sheer competitiveness (and her awesome Gatorade commercial), Wambach will be more than ready to leave it all on the pitch this time around. At the Athens Games in 2004, her header in extra time secured a gold medal over the rival Brazilian squad, and in 2008 she broke her leg due to a dirty tackle against Brazil less than a month before the Beijing Opening Ceremonies, must I tell you that revenge will be on her mind if Team USA faces off against the Brazilians?
6.      Missy Franklin
Missy Franklin, who many refer to as the “Female Phelps” is a 17-year old with the chance of setting an American record for most medals by a female in a single Olympiad. Franklin has a shot to compete for gold in 7 swimming events in London and is likely to distinguish herself as one of, if not the most promising Olympian for future games.
7.      Neymar
Through Neymar, Brazil is letting the planet know that the country is a shoe-in to reassume its soccer dominance when it hosts the 2014 World Cup. The 20-year old soccer sensation will surely wow you with his flashy goals, on-ball moves and whacky hairstyle but overall will give a glimpse of the arsenal of young, talented Brazilian footballers that will be showcased in 2 years time. Brazil has surprisingly never won the Gold Medal for Men’s Soccer; that is bound to change this time around.
8.      Oscar Pistorius
Middle-distance runner Oscar Pistorius will not only be representing his home country of South Africa while participating in the 400 and 400x4 relays in London this summer but will be competing on behalf of the millions of amputees worldwide, becoming the first ever amputee to take part in an Olympic event. Pistorius, who is nicknamed “Blade Runner” due to his futuristic prosthetics lost his legs when he was only 11-months old due to a medical condition and is a long-shot to medal at the London Games, but will come away from these Olympic Games with a significant victory for all amputees.
9.       Caster Semanya
We’ve all heard pieces of “her” story: the South African female runner whose record-breaking spree was cut short only because of serious allegations regarding her actual sexuality. Semanya has been reinstated by the International Association of Athletics Federations after an 11-month investigation which revealed both male and female sexual organs belonging to the middle-distance runner. Despite an ease in criticism and a reinstation, Caster Semanya has failed to reach her 2009 shape and looks to use the London Games as a way back into the spotlight.
10.  Liu Xiang
Eight years ago he won the gold medal for his stunning 110 meter hurdles performance, four years ago the Olympics came to his home country of China, and an injury kept him off the track. Many Chinese claim the one reason the 2008 Beijing Games were not perfect was because the nation wasn’t able to watch its top athlete compete. Liu Xiang is considered among the best and most adored Chinese athletes, and is looking to provide a gold medal in London to make up for the one lost 4 years ago.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Cat's Meow: 2012 Development Camp

Ruchika Sharma covers the Florida Panthers for Teenlink.

Ahh. The smell of the rink. A smell I had truly missed since late April.

Yours truly was up and at it early this morning at the recently renamed JetBlue Training Facility located in the Iceplex for the Florida Panthers Development Camp. 36 players were invited to camp (24 forwards, eight defensemen and four goalies. A complete roster can be found here).

Camp officially started on July 2nd, and will run through Friday with the exception of the Fourth of July. (LW) Quinton Howden and (D) Erik Gudbranson were the two players not in attendance as they are both suffering from infections and are unable to fly.

The rink was filled with fans, young and old alike, taking in the sights of the future of the Florida Panthers. Kevin Dineen was in attendance, evaluating who would be able to make the jump to the pros next season.

Prospects were divided into two squads: White and Red. The White Squad was on the ice first; skating through drills run by Chuck Weber (Head coach of the Panthers AHL farm team, the San Antonio Rampage), Brian Skrudland (Director of Player Development) and Robb Tallas (Goaltending Coach) working with the goalies. A notable member of the White Squad: (D) Mike Matheson, a 2012 draft pick (23rd overall).

They finished up at around 10 AM, and that's when the Red Squad took the ice. Running through the exact same drills, the coaches had all the fans laughing at the 'one-legged' and 'skiing' laps they had the squads skating through. A notable member of the Red Squad: (C) Jonathan Huberdeau, a 2011 draft pick (3rd overall).

Although trade rumors were running rampant (which prospects would be traded for the return of Roberto Luongo?), the prospects were working their hearts out, all having something to prove.

After today's on-ice session, I was able to catch up with (D) Mike Matheson and (C) Jonathan Huberdeau.

(D) Mike Matheson

  • (Talking about adjusting to camp) "I worked a lot on skating, for sure, and working on the edges of and things like that. I'm definitely working on those areas of my game and just getting used to the speed and quickness of the advanced level."
  • (About improvement) "I think that everybody, no matter what their best asset is, there's still work to be done in that area; including me and skating. I'm being able to work on that area and hopefully become even better in my skating; it will help me along the way too."
  • (On what he's here to do) "I'm hoping to put a good impression on the organization and Mr. Tallon and just try to come in here and work hard and show them that I'm really dedicated to improving my game. And that I can show them some of the things I can bring to the team in the future."
  • (What it is that makes him different) "I don't know. I guess that my skating helps me in my play and helps me do things that maybe some guys would struggle in, so I'd say that kind of separates me from others. And I'd say off the ice, my dedication to get better is an area I pride myself on."
  • (On what he thinks he brings to the team) "Looking at a guy like Brian Campbell, obviously he's really good and he's established himself in the NHL and this organization. I just like to model my game after him. I'm not saying that I'm anywhere near as good as him. I just say that I'd be able to bring some of the things hopefully that he's able to do."

(C) Jonathan Huberdeau
  • (About his summer) "It was a great summer. Got a long season, I took some vacation and now I'm ready to work."
  • (Comparing his preparation for this year's camp to last year's) "I mean, for sure it was a great time last year. We learned a lot of things and this year is the same. You come here your second year; you get to meet the new guys and I think it's just great to see the guys that you met last year."
  • (Talking about his goals for this year) "For sure my goal is to play for the Panthers. I'm going to do everything to do it and I'm going to work hard through the summer to get stronger and come here [for Rookie] camp and be ready".
  • (On how he's going to lock up a roster spot) "Just work hard and do what it takes to make the team. I [have] got to play my game and that's why they drafted me. So I just need to play the way I play and hopefully I can make the team".
  • (What makes him different) "There are a lot of kinds of players here. There's differences, but I'm just a skilled player who tries to work hard two-way and I think both sides of the ice. I think everybody's different; you [have] just got to play your game like you do".

Thursday's session will consist of more drills and a scrimmage. Friday's session will be a full-on scrimmage: a true test of chemistry. On-ice sessions for Thursday and Friday both begin at 9 AM and end at 11 AM.

Be sure to catch the Panthers prospects in action at the JetBlue Training Facility located inside Iceplex!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Cat's Meow: Free Agent Frenzy

Ah, July 1st. The day that many hockey fans are glued to their TVs and phones, anxiously awaiting news. The day that many fans cheer with glee because their favorite team signed a highly-touted free agent. Or in the other case, begin to cope with the fact that one of their favorite players has left for another team.

For the Florida Panthers, this year's Free Agent Frenzy was much calmer than last year; choosing to dip their toes into the free agent pool rather than make a huge splash.

  • (D) Filip Kuba (Ottawa Senators): Signed a two-year, $8 million contract. His arrival assures the expected departure of defenseman Jason Garrison, who is an unrestricted free agent. He scored six goals, 26 assists, and was a +26 in 73 games with Senators last season. Kuba, 35, was drafted by the Panthers in 1995 and played 18 games over two seasons before being traded to the Minnesota Wild. 
  • (RW) George Parros (Anaheim Ducks): Signed a two-year $1.85 million contract. He brings grit to the team, having been an enforcer with the Anaheim Ducks. Parros, 32, had one goal, three assists and 85 PIM in 46 games with with the Ducks last season.
  • (RW) Mikael Samuelsson (Detroit Red Wings): Signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings. Samuelsson, 35, spent four seasons with the Red Wings and scored 67 goals during his time there. While with the Panthers, he scored 13 goals and collected 15 helpers in 46 games. 
  • (D) Jason Garrison (Vancouver Canucks): Signed a six-year, $27.6 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks. Garrison, 27, got a much-expected pay day. Highly touted this summer, he had 16 goals and 17 assists in 77 games last season. Despite showing some real spark this season, some experts say that the Canucks overpaid for a one-hit wonder defenseman.
  • (G) Scott Clemmensen: Signed a two-year contract. Financial terms of the contract are not available at the moment. Clemmensen, 34, went 14-6-6 in 30 games with a 2.57 GAA and one shutout. 

Other Notables
  • The Florida Panthers still seem to be in the hunt for (G) Roberto Luongo. After re-signing backup goalie Scott Clemmensen, there is still no logical reason to obtain Luongo. With the Canucks demanding one of the Panthers top prospects in exchange for Luongo, talks are still ongoing between the two camps. 
  • After deciding to test free agent waters, (G) Martin Brodeur is rumored to be in talks with the Panthers. As if re-signed backup Scott Clemmensen (two years), starter Jose Theodore (one year left) and up-and-coming goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom sitting in the minors is not enough in the crease. 
  • (D) Ryan Suter and (LW) Zach Parise still have not made their decisions. Parise was reportedly contacted by Sidney Crosby on behalf of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the two spending time at the famous Minnesota prep school, Shattucks St. Mary's. Reports surfaced that Suter and Parise are in talks for a "Big Three" type situation, as seen in the NBA with Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Parise is rumored to make his decision tomorrow. 
  • (RW) Rick Nash's name had been nonexistent in the rumor circle since earlier in the season. But now that reports are surfacing that Nash has been in talks with the Philadelphia Flyers, expect to hear more of his name. 
And we are left to wait it all out...

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Cat's Meow: Draft Recap, Free Agent Frenzy, Pavel Bure, and Development Camp

The Draft
This past weekend in Pittsburgh, the Florida Panthers made their choices and drafted five junior players who will have the opportunity to one day don the Panthers red and blue. Below is a list of players taken, and their rounds.

First Round: Pick #23 
Michael Matheson (D)
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 178 lbs
Shoots: Left
Team: Dubuque, USHL
Country: Canada
Last Season: Led all Dubuque defensemen with 27 points and was tied for sixth in overall scoring. 

Second Round: No picks

Third Round: Pick #84
Steven Hodges (C)
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 178 lbs
Shoots: Left
Team: Victoria, WHL
Country: Canada
Last Season: Was sixth in points (46) for Victoria forwards and was one of four players to play the full 72-game season, not including the playoffs.

Fourth Round: Pick #114
Alexander Delnov (LW)
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 187 lbs
Shoots: Left
Team: Mytischi 2, Russia-JR.
Country: Russia
Review: Played 47 games, scored eleven goals and collected eleven helpers last season.

Fifth Round: No picks

Sixth Round: Pick #174
Francis Beauvillier (C & LW)
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 180 lbs
Shoots: Left
Team: Rimouski, QMJHL
Country: Canada
Review: Scored 23 goals and logged 75 PIM last season.

Seventh Round: Pick #194
Jonatan Nielsen (D)
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 183 lbs
Shoots: Right
Team: Linkoping Jr., Swe-JR.
Country: Sweden
Review: Played 38 games, scored five goals, four assists and logged 24 PIM.

Free Agent Frenzy
The infamous Free Agent Frenzy does not actually start until Sunday, but the Florida Panthers have their eyes on several free agents, and have to take care of some business of their own.
  • The Panthers sent qualifying offers to nine of their restricted free agents: (D) Mike Caruso, (D) Roman Derlyuk(D) Keaton Ellerby, (G) Brian Foster, (D) Dmitry Kulikov(F) Michal Repik, (F) Eric Selleck, (F) Kris Versteeg, and (F) James Wright. Of those nine, Ellerby, Kulikov, and Versteeg were the only to participate in the playoffs. 
  • The Panthers have thirteen restricted free agents: (LW) Wojtek Wolski, (RW) Kris Versteeg, (D) Dmitry Kulikov,  (C) James Wright, (D) Roman Derlyuk, (RW) Michal Repik, (D) Keaton Ellerby, (C) Ondrej Roman, (LW) Eric Selleck, (G) Brian Foster, (D) Keith Seabrook, (D) Mike Caruso, and (C) Justin Bernhardt.
  • And twelve unrestricted free agents: (RW) Mikael Samuelsson, (LW) Marco Sturm, (G) Scott Clemmensen, (RW) Krystofer Barch, (C) Bracken Kearns, (D) Jason Garrison, (C) Mark Cullen, (C) John Madden, (RW) Bill Thomas, (C) Greg Rallo, (D) Sean Sullivan, and (C) John Matsumoto.
  • Coach Kevin Dineen has expressed that he would like management to re-sign (RW) Mikael Samuelsson. Samuelsson, 35, played 46 games since his trade to Florida from Vancouver and had 13 goals and 15 assists since his arrival, including five assists in seven playoff games. 
  • (D) Jason Garrison would like to remain in South Florida, as he is a pending unrestricted free agent, but has not ruled out testing free agent waters. As of June 20th, he has received a new contract offer. According to The Hockey News, no team has contacted the Panthers regarding acquiring Garrison's rights.  
  • The Panthers would also like to re-sign restricted free agent (RW) Kris Versteeg, an integral part to the team's success this season. Seeing that he is an RFA, it is almost certain that he will re-sign.
  • (G) Scott Clemmensen is said to be one of the best free agent goalies in this year's market. As of June 6th, the Florida Panthers also sent him a new contract offer. Columbus GM Scott Howson has expressed an interesting in adding more stability to the crease, and Clemmensen might just be one an option.
  • P.A Parenteau, New York Islanders, RW: Considered one of the best forwards in this summer's free agent class, Parenteau flourished alongside John Tavares and Matt Moulson last season. A 67-point season with 18 goals makes me wonder what it'd be like if he stopped and shot more. A new team could find him in a similar role as a set-up winger. 
  • Andrei Kostitsyn, Nashville Predators, RW & LW: Considered a so-called 'problem child' after his curfew-breaking incident during last year's playoffs. After six and half seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Andrei was reunited with his brother, Sergei, in the middle of last season, leading to a jump in production. His reunion with his brother is not credited as the reason for his recent successes, but he can produce in the right situation and be considered a top-six forward. 
  • Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks, G: Rumors have been swirling since Luongo admitted he would not want to stand in the way of the Canucks success and would be unopposed if management decided to move him. A former Florida Panther, he spent five seasons with the team before being traded to the Canucks prior to the 2006-2007 season--a trade considered one of the worst in hockey history. There is no logical reason for the Florida Panthers to trade for him; as they have promising goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom in the minors, yet reports have surfaced that Luongo himself has refused to move his no-trade clause to any team but Florida. 
Pavel Bure
  • Former Florida Panther Pavel Bure is one of the newest Hockey Hall of Fame inductees, along with fellow members of the Class of 2012; Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, and Adam Oates. Bure, who spent four seasons with the Panthers and was a five-time 50 goal scorer, is considered long overdue for his nod after being eligible since 2006. Though his 12-year playing career was cut short by consistent knee issues, the "Russian Rocket" posted 779 points in 702 games.  
Development Camp
  • 36 Florida Panthers prospects (24 forwards, eight defensemen and four goalies) will attend the Florida Panthers development camp. Camp opens on Monday, July 2, and will take place at Iceplex in Coral Springs. All on-ice sessions are free and open to the public. The camp's complete roster can be found here. The on-ice schedule is below and its dates, times and players are all subject to change without notice. 
Monday, July 2: 1pm-4pm (practice)
Tuesday, July 3: 9am-11am (practice)
Thursday, July 5: 9am-11am (practice/scrimmage)
Friday, July 6: 9am-11am (scrimmage)

Best of luck to all the rookies!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Sports Fix

Now that the Miami Heat have won the NBA championship and King James has his ring, a hush falls over Floridian sports fans as we try to think of what to occupy our week nights with now that the NBA finals and Heat parties are over. Below are 3 sports or sporting events to keep your sports fix in check over the summer.

1. Baseball
Baseball is an acquired taste, and many find it boring, but if you haven't tried watching baseball before, try it out. The Miami Marlins seem to be having a better season that last year's so far, so now may be the time to start watching!

2. Soccer
The #1 sport in almost every other part of the world besides the U.S., teams from around the world are battling for the Euro 2012 championship. Check out your family tree to discover what nationality (or nationalities) you are, and therefore what teams to cheer for!

3. Summer Olympics
The summer olympics begin July 27 in London, England and include a variety of sports, many of which I know little to nothing about, including archery, gymnastics, rowing, sailing, volleyball, shooting, fencing, diving, and more. For the nonconformists among us, the 2012 summer olympics may be calling your name.

Rowing appeared simple and effortless-looking to me - that is, until I tried it and realized how hard it is to row perfectly in sync with everyone else in your canoe, while trying not to tip it...and how tired my weak arms were afterward. Most of the odd, seemingly nerdy sports people make fun of actually require a lot of skill and hard work, like the mainstream ones everyone knows about. Before you make fun of it, try it might be surprised!

As we wait with bated breath for the college football, NFL and NHL seasons to begin, try watching a sport you know little about or trying a new sport with your friends.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Cat's Meow: NHL Awards & The Draft

By Ruchika Sharma
Pine Crest School

The NHL Awards were held last night in Las Vegas. The NHL and its stars were on full display, among many celebrity presenters and Nickelback as the musical guest. Many awards were given out last night, and several players took home the hardware. Below are the awards, the nominees, and the winners.

Hart Memorial Trophy-Awarded to the most valuable player of the year, selected by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association
  • Evgeni Malkin [Pittsburgh Penguins]
  • Henrik Lundqvist [New York Rangers]
  • Steven Stamkos [Tampa Bay Lightning]
Ted Lindsay Award-Awarded to the most valuable player of the year, selected by fellow NHLers
  • Evgeni Malkin [Pittsburgh Penguins]
  • Henrik Lundqvist [New York Rangers]
  • Steven Stamkos [Tampa Bay Lightning]
Vezina Trophy-Awarded to the best goaltender of the year
  • Henrik Lundqvist [New York Rangers]
  • Jonathan Quick [Los Angeles Kings]
  • Pekka Rinne [Nashville Predators]
James Norris Memorial Trophy-Awarded to the best defenseman of the year
  • Erik Karlsson [Ottawa Senators]
  • Shea Weber [Nashville Predators]
  • Zdeno Chara [Boston Bruins]
Calder Memorial Trophy-Awarded to the best rookie of the year
  • Adam Henrique [New Jersey Devils]
  • Gabriel Landeskog [Colorado Avalanche]
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins [Edmonton Oilers]
Jack Adams Award-Awarded to the best coach of the year
  • John Tortorella [New York Rangers]
  • Ken Hitchcock [St. Louis Blues]
  • Paul MacLean [Ottawa Senators]
General Manager of the Year Award-Awarded to the best general manager of the year
  • Dale Tallon [Florida Panthers]
  • David Poile [Nashville Predators]
  • Doug Armstrong [St. Louis Blues]
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy-Awarded to the most gentlemanly player and the best exhibitor of sportsmanship
  • Brian Campbell [Florida Panthers]
  • Jordan Eberle [Edmonton Oilers]
  • Matt Moulson [New York Islanders]
Frank J. Selke Trophy-Awarded to the best defensive forward
  • David Backes [St. Louis Blues]
  • Patrice Bergeron [Boston Bruins]
  • Pavel Datsyuk [Detroit Red Wings]
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy-Awarded to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey
  • Daniel Alfredsson [Ottawa Senators]
  • Joffrey Lupul [Toronto Maple Leafs]
  • Max Pacioretty [Montreal Canadiens]
King Clancy Trophy-Awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice, in addition to a significant humanitarian contribution to his community. One player from each team is nominated.
  • Daniel Alfredsson [Ottawa Senators]
NHL Foundation Award-Awarded to the player who 'applies the core values of hockey [commitment, perseverance, and teamwork] to enrich the lives of his the people in his community'.
  • John-Michael Liles [Toronto Maple Leafs]
  • Matt Moulson [New York Islanders] 
  • Mike Fisher [Nashville Predators]
Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award-Awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice during the regular season
  • Dustin Brown [Los Angeles Kings]
  • Ryan Callahan [New York Rangers]
  • Shane Doan [Phoenix Coyotes]
Art Ross Trophy-Awarded to the player who leads the NHL in points at the end of the regular season
  • Evgeni Malkin [Pittsburgh Penguins] 109 Points
Maurice Richard Trophy-Awarded to the player who leads the NHL in goals 
  • Steven Stamkos [Tampa Bay Lightning] 60 Goals
William M. Jennings Trophy-Awarded to the goaltenders who play at least twenty five games for a team and have the fewest goals scored against them at the end of the regular season
  • Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak [St. Louis Blues] 165 Goals Against

Now that the NHL Awards are over, Panthers fans still have something to look forward to: The NHL Draft. Over 200 players are selected each year, one step closer to living the big league dream.The Draft is being held in Pittsburgh, with Round One tomorrow night and Rounds Two through Seven on Saturday morning. Panthers fans can catch the Round One of the Draft on NBC Sports Network tomorrow night at 7pm and Rounds 2-7 Saturday morning at 10am on NHL Network. For the first time in a while, the Panthers hold a pick much later in the first round than they are used to. Below are the Florida Panthers spots in the Draft.

First Round: Pick #23
Second Round: No picks
Third Round: Pick #84
Fourth Round: Pick #114
Fifth Round: No picks
Sixth Round: Pick #174
Seventh Round: Pick #194

So for all you Panthers fans, be sure to tune into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft tomorrow night at 7 on NBC Sports Network. 

Happy Picking!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Cat's Meow: An Introduction

By Ruchika Sharma
Pine Crest

Hi everybody! My name is Ruchika Sharma, and I'm probably the biggest hockey nut around. I was born in Montreal, Canada; so to answer your question, yes, I am a stereotypical Canadian [though only when it comes to hockey].  I'm originally a Montreal Canadiens fan [gotta represent the hometown boys]and I moved to Florida nine years ago. It took some time for me to warm up to the Florida Panthers, six years, to be exact.

After moving here, they were just so horrible that they managed to tug at my heartstrings, and I had to root for them. Seeing them make the playoffs this year made me feel like a proud mother. Sure, my Canadiens come first, but I'll defend the Panthers to no end.

I understand that hockey isn't the biggest thing in South Florida; the Heat, the Dolphins and even the Marlins tend to garner more attention than the Panthers. But this season's playoffs proved that South Florida can, in fact, be a hockey town. This year's playoffs were often referred to as 'silly', just because non-traditional hockey markets made it, like Nashville, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Florida.

But I see a lot of potential in the Florida Panthers. Heck, the fans are rejuvenated and believe it too. Keep this in mind: the Panthers were the only team to push the New Jersey Devils to seven games, who faced off against the Los Angeles Kings, eventually losing in six games.

Alas, hockey season is over. The Los Angeles Kings have taken home the Stanley Cup, and will enjoy it until October. Us Panthers' fans have a long time to wait until hockey returns to South Florida. Unless, of course, you'll anxiously be watching the Draft next Saturday, just like me...

Until then,


Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 NBA Finals

Prediction? The Heat will beat OKC in six games.

We all know what Miami is capable of. We all witnessed Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The five things that the Miami Heat have going for them are:

1. Oh my Bosh!
Chris Bosh is back. Finishing with 19 points and 8 rebounds in Game 7 of the Boston series, he was the main spark that got the Heat out their slump and into a full-on attack mode. Hitting three threes and grabbing rebound after rebound, having Bosh back is one of the keys to winning this championship. With Bosh being healthy, the Heat are starting to put themselves into a very good position to win this championship.

2. The supporting cast
Even though Coach Spo is keeping the bench tight, the supporting cast has truly stepped up in the post season and has been such an integral part in the team's wins. In Game 7 of the Boston series alone, Battier nailed four threes, Chalmers had nine points, and Udonis grabbed six boards. The bench has consistently been stepping it up, and if they continue, OKC is going to have a very tough time handling this team.

3. Defend This House
Game 7 at the America Airlines Arena was loud. I've been to many Heat games over the years, and Saturday night's game was the craziest game I've ever been to. Countless people in the arena stood the entire game to cheer on their home team. Fans were chanting for the full 48 minutes. Once the Heat cut Boston's lead at the beginning of the game and eventually started pulling away from the Celtics, the arena was too loud and too involved for the Celtics to even have a chance to get something going. I believe that it will be tough for any team to win in the AAA if the crowd stay's loud and involved.

4. All hail The King
LeBron James. LBJ. Bron Bron. MVP. King James. He proved himself game after game after game. He proved that no one in the NBA could stop him. He proved that he won't let the haters affect him. He proved that he is ready to bring home a championship.

5. Put a Ring On It
I've never seen this much focus from this Miami Heat team. Before, during, and after the games, the Heat are in the zone. They play, take care of business, then prepare for the next game. Every member of the Miami Heat organization has one goal in mind- to win it all. They won't settle for anything less than the championship, so I don't think that anyone, including OKC, will stand in there way.

That's all i have to say about the Miami Heat!
It is going to be a thrilling, up-tempo, and crazy final series, but I truly feel that the Heat will pull away with the win.
We have always had the talent, but I feel like we have the complete drive to win a championship with this team.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Baseball Season 2012

Spring training has finally rolled around!

The Traditional questions: Which players will successfully recover from their injuries? Will a new team come up on the top radar? How will Hot Stove trades turn out?

Some specific questions I have:
How will the remodeled Miami Marlins do in their new stadium?
Will the Angels thrive with Albert Pujols?
How will the recently announced playoff changes alter August baseball?
And of course, who will come out on top in the AL East?

In case you haven't heard, the new playoff structure includes one more Wild Card in each league. The two Wild Card teams will meet in a one game playoff, giving an extra bit of rest to the Division Champs and adding a little more excitement to the wild card race.

Personally, I have always championed MLB playoffs for having series to decide each bracket, a more realistic assessment of the best team when spread out over multiple games. We'll see how it spans out and the impact on the playoff race.