Posted on: July 1, 2009 8:21 pm
Got off the phone with Panthers (interim) GM Randy Sexton a while ago and he shared some insight about Florida's busy start to the free agency period...
- It appears Jordan Leopold, who was acquired in the deal which sent Jay Bouwmeester to Calgary, will be testing the free agent market. Sexton said Leopold may sign with Florida, but after a long pause, called that chance "remote."
"We tried to do a few different things," Sexton said about contract negotiations with Leopold. "For whatever reason, it couldn't quite come together."
- Although there are still a few scorers available on the market, don't expect to see the Panthers to upgrade its top two lines. Sexton said Florida is comfortable with its top six and bluntly stated it is not likely the team will spend on offense.
- A good part of today's agenda involved re-signing players. In trying to keep David Booth and Radek Dvorak -- two players cited as models for the Panthers' makeup -- he found success. With backup netminder Craig Anderson, not so much.
On Booth: "We're just delighted. David embodies everything that's an ideal Panther. Speed, skill ... great work ethic and attitude."
On Dvorak: "We're really happy to have D-vo back. He helped us create the identity last year as an up-tempo team. ... He wanted to come back, and we wanted him back."
- When the Panthers lost out on Anderson, they turned their focus to finding a backup for Tomas Vokoun. Sexton indicated the Cats focused on two netminders, but found themselves leaning toward Clemmensen because of the assets he could bring to the team. Clemmensen's contract demands were in line with Florida's plan, so they went ahead with a deal.
Florida has $14.2 million committed to its goaltenders over the next two seasons, with most of that going to Vokoun. The Panthers seem comfortable, though, with the idea Clemmensen overtaking the Czech netminder for the No. 1 job.
"We would envision an open competition," Sexton said. "I don't think Tomas is a shrinking violet, and Scott is an extremely competitive guy. We expect a competitive situation for that starting position."
- No word on the Panthers' GM search, but Sexton says he's thankful for getting a hands-on opportunity to make his case for the job.
"[Panthers President Bill Torrey] and I talk every day and Bill is clear there are other good candidates," Sexton said. "I'm fortunate I got the chance to audition for the job."
Posted on: March 26, 2009 4:07 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2009 4:19 pm
Go ahead, heap criticism on the Florida Panthers. They deserve it. The Cats, seeking their first playoff berth since 2000, have lost seven of their last eight games. They've blown a two-goal lead in four of those.
The list of excuses Florida can lean on has diminished to one glaring, bold-faced bullet point: the inability to close out games. The Panthers cannot blame the loss of Nathan Horton or Bryan McCabe to injury; both players are back. They cannot suggest waiting for the trade deadline have caused frayed nerves; March 4 has come and gone, with the team left intact. Their only flaw is mental.
Ask around in the Panthers locker room as to what's the cause behind the slide. Nobody has an answer. Some will speak out about unacceptable efforts as McCabe did after the team's 3-0 loss to Washington. Others, such as Tomas Vokoun, question what has caused the season to go so wrong, so quickly. Coach Pete DeBoer focuses on the positives of his team working hard and playing disciplined hockey, even though the result on the scoresheet suggests otherwise.
Yet nobody seems to realize the solution to Florida's problem has always been in their presence: Craig Anderson. He's seen the collapse up close and personal from his rinkside seat on the Panthers bench. He's got a clear view of every teammate's body language off the ice as he sits at the head of the locker room. He's seen it all before and for whatever reason, over the past two seasons, Anderson has been clutch when the Panthers are in their most dire straits:
- March 2008: With the playoffs seemingly out of reach, Anderson kickstarts a franchise-best seven-game winning streak with three straight wins. He begins with a 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders and follows that with a 1-0 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins. In the process, he sets NHL records for most saves in a shutout (53 vs. New York) and most saves in consecutive shutouts (93).
- November 2008: Anderson posts a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 9, snapping the team's six-game losing streak. Three nights later, he posts a 4-0 win over Tampa Bay. By the end of the month, Anderson takes over as Florida's No. 1, starting in six straight games. In that stretch, he records five wins and two shutouts.
- January 2009: In the midst of a four-game losing streak, Anderson rights the ship with a 6-1 win over Pittsburgh. The Panthers begin a streak in which they earn a point in eight straight games.
Anderson has not seen any action since his victory over Washington. Since then, Florida has gone 3-5-3.
There's no explanation as to why Florida plays well in front of Anderson, who is 24-12-6 in his two full seasons with the Panthers. Now is not the time for DeBoer and the Cats to question why that is.
Florida has eight games left to salvage one of the best seasons they've had in years. There's no shame in leaning on numbers or intangibles to do so. The Panthers just need to get back in the win column.
Anderson has shown he can do that.