By Nick Stoico
It’s the last game of the season for the Florida Panthers, and it really holds absolutely no significance to them whatsoever — although a win against the Blue Jackets would ensure they don’t finish as the second-worst team in the league, so there’s that! There’s also Roberto Luongo flailing around with a dysfunctional water bottle that won’t spray straight. Roberto Luongo has a great evolving reaction to his misbehaving bottle: He looks confused, he watches it spill everywhere, he looks mad, he tries and fails to drink from it, and then he just shrugs, shakes his head and gives up — an appropriate analogy for the Panthers’ season as it comes to a close.
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By Nick Stoico
By Amy Lilek
Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo was a late scratch for their game against the Philadelphia Flyers due to an upper-body injury.
Luongo was scheduled to get the start and he led the Panthers onto the ice for warm-ups, but it was announced he would not play shortly before game time. No more information was given at the time. Luongo was dressed and on the Florida bench as the game got underway.
Luongo sustained an upper-body injury during a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 27. He missed three games, but had started the Panthers’ last two games.
Back-up goalie Dan Ellis took Luongo’s place in net.
The microscope was on goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack Sunday afternoon when the two faced off against each other for the first time since Luongo was traded on March 4 from Vancouver to Florida. Lack and the Canucks would pull out the victory, winning 4-3 in a shootout, but it was Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa who made the save of the game.
It’s one thing when a player gets traded and fans don’t know what to do with their old jerseys. It’s a completely different ballgame when a team is planning a bobblehead night for one of its marquee players and then decides to trade said player before the night actually happens. What do you do with those 7,500 bobbleheads?
By Nick Stoico
Tim Thomas has always been a bit quirky. Consider his unorthodox style of play, his choice of representation, and his way of leaving Boston. His most recent return to the city as a member of the Florida Panthers did nothing to change that perception.
The 39-year-old netminder took to the ice sporting a blue helmet-and-cage combo that looked similar to what a youth skater in a house league might wear. It also had a classic dangling white neck guard that brought some nostalgia with it. For fans in Boston, Thomas’ choice of headwear was reminiscent of some of his more interesting facial protection through the years.
Sometimes it’s just plain awful to be a fan.
We’re not talking about the occasional emotional bump and bruise, the kind fans get from a devastating last-second loss or a disastrous season-ending injury — or even when they watch their favorite team bow out in the conference finals, one round shy of a shot at the Stanley Cup. We mean years of suffering at the hands of a club that almost seems to delight in tormenting those who freely give to it their hearts, minds, time and money.
This is the fifth in our series on the 10 NHL franchises that take an ongoing toll on their fans, the teams that suggest that their devoted followers are either bottomless wells of hope or certified masochists–or perhaps just a touch crazy. Today we look at the Florida Panthers, who reached the 1996 Stanley Cup Final in their third year of existence but have since secured squatter’s rights on Futility Boulevard while creating a rather lonely experience for those who have the intestinal fortitude to attend their games.
TEAM 10: Winnipeg Jets | 9: Dallas Stars | 8: Columbus Blue Jackets | 7: Vancouver Canucks
5: Edmonton Oilers | 4. Washington Capitals | 3. Buffalo Sabres | 2. New York Islanders
1. Toronto Maple Leafs
You knew it was only a matter of time before Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon took measures to right his listing hockey team. This morning, he did.
After suffering a seventh consecutive loss Thursday night in Boston, and just days after saying that his coach’s gig was safe, Tallon fired Kevin Dineen along with assistants Gord Murphy and Craig Ramsay Friday. Peter Horacheck was named as Dineen’s replacement on an interim basis.
“After 16 games it was clear that our team needed a change in philosophy and direction,” Tallon said in a press release. “We have not met the expectations that we set forth at training camp and it is my responsibility to make the necessary changes to ensure that our club performs at its maximum potential. We thank Kevin, Gord and Craig for their hard work and dedication to our organization and the professionalism that they displayed throughout their tenure.”
Horacheck was serving as head coach of Florida’s top farm team in San Antonio. “He’s a no-nonsense guy, a good communicator,” Tallon said. “We’ll give him a chance to show his wares.”
As Batman once said, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Depending on whom you ask, and what day of the week you do it on, Tim Thomas is either a hero or villain to Boston fans. The undersized goalie was often times stellar for the Bruins, backstopping the franchise to it’s first Stanley Cup in 40 years in 2011, adding the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP to go with his Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder.
By Allan Muir
Florida Panthers goalie Tim Thomas has left tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with an apparent leg injury.
Thomas came out to cut the angle down on a long blast by Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier. As he pushed off his left leg, it crumpled under him, sending him to the ice and leaving an open net for Braydon Coburn to bury the rebound.