Archive for the ‘Florida Panthers’ Category

By now, you’ve almost certainly heard the war of words between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators, ignited by Eric Gryba’s open-ice check on Lars Eller in Game One of their first round series.

Brandon Prust likened the Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean to a walrus and Michel Therrien was not pleased either, pointing out a lack of respect shown in MacLean’s comments.

“(If I’m Eller), I’m really mad at player 61, whoever he is, because he passed me the puck in the middle of the rink when I wasn’t looking,” said MacLean. “That’s always been a dangerous place as far as I know. Ever since I’ve been playing this game, that’s a dangerous place to be — bad things happen.

“I think it’s a hockey play that ended up going badly for Lars Eller.”

Whether or not MacLean was unconcerned about Eller’s condition is up for debate, as he simply voiced his opinion on the sequence that left Montreal’s third-year center lying in a puddle of his own blood.

What is certain, however, is that MacLean was impudent towards Raphael Diaz and the number 61, as he did not even bother to learn the defenseman’s name. He addressed him as if he were a replicant that Harrison Ford should be hunting down in ‘Blade Runner’, rather than a hockey player.

Had MacLean known that Eller once wore No.61 on his jersey during a brief stint in St. Louis, he may have taken it further.

“I’m upset that player 61 sent a daring pass to that other individual who used to wear No.61.”

With that in mind, we creep inside the heads of some stand-out players who once bore this jersey number and uncover the thoughts that would surface in the event of being called out as Diaz was. (more…)

Some players, no matter how hard they try or how well they constantly perform, go through their careers as under-appreciated and overlooked athletes.  While the same superstars hog the spotlight year in and year out, their media attention is in stark contrast to others who silently finish their shifts on a positive note.

Take Kimmo Timonen for example, a defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers who is lauded by teammates and opponents alike. It’s his 13th year in the National Hockey League and yet he is still somehow hidden from the microphones and televisions too routinely. Maybe it’s his 5-foot-10 frame that makes him hard to find in a crowded dressing room. Maybe the reporters want to interview those with last names that do not have to be double-checked for spelling. We can’t all have fancy, simple names like Mike Richards and Bobby Ryan.

Although he may not mind his underrated label, it is unjust for a hardy veteran to be so overshadowed by better-known players. Perhaps Zdeno Chara will have improved Timonen’s publicity after he was the first rearguard to be hand-picked by the Slovakian’s team in this year’s All-Star Fantasy Draft. But the Finn is merely one of many.

Then there is Ray Whitney. (more…)

“Right from the day he first stepped on the ice for the Vancouver Canucks, he wowed the city.” –Pat Quinn

“What Pavel brought at the time, the team never had before. And that was a superstar that was young and I wouldn’t say the word overly confident but he wasn’t afraid to say ‘Look I’m going to score 50 goals’, and he went out and did it.” –Cliff Ronning

“Some of the things that Pavel did at high speed, I couldn’t do it walking through it sometimes. Players are always fooling around before practice or during practice to try different things. But when Pavel did this, it was all at a high speed and he did it in games.” –Stan Smyl

“He was scary with the puck, I mean he could do stuff that made other players look like they were in another league. It would be boys playing with men sometimes”. –Arthur Griffiths

“Pavel was the type of player, and there’s not a lot of guys that can do that, but literally bring people out of their seats and incredibly explosive. He just made things happen when you didn’t think anything could happen.” –Trevor Linden

“He’s the most talented hockey player I’ve ever played with in my life and that I’ve ever seen period.” –Greg Adams (more…)

Surprises aren’t appreciated by everyone; these people are insistent on being told if something is in the works behind their back. With the National Hockey League’s latest campaign coming upon us, it’s a chance to pour over the players who shattered their expectations—if they had some to begin with—and whose presence graced an organization. For someone to be included in this list, it had to be their career-year to date; that goes without saying.

Next, the leap in their maturation must be a significant one—we’re not exactly going to cram in individuals who raised their highest production by ten points. And the key words are the ‘regular season’, as the playoffs are not why we’re gathered here today. No disrespect is intended for Sean Bergenheim or Joel Ward, who fired all calibers of bullets round for round during the postseason.

If surprises aren’t to your liking, do not read past this point. (more…)