Bring back the rats: Panthers add '96-era players Brian Skrudland, Gord Murphy to front office

floridarats.jpgFor some NHL franchises, a Cinderella run to a Stanley Cup finals sweep would be a prelude of better things to come. For the great ones, it would possibly be a little bit embarrassing. For the mediocre ones, it might be a vibrant memory in a montage of occasional playoff appearances.

Yet for a moribund franchise such as the Florida Panthers, the 1996 out-of-nowhere run was almost a mirage. Fueled by great goaltending by John Vanbiesbrouck, scrappy players such as Rob Niedermayer and the sparse bit of starpower from a young Ed Jovanovski, the Panthers shocked the likes of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr on their way to a brick wall in the form of the Colorado Avalanche. In the mean time, fans would serenade opposing goalies with those infamous, time-sapping plastic rats.

It was a strange anomaly of a summer, but it seems like new GM Dale Tallon isn’t afraid to echo that isolated bit of history. George Richards of On Frozen Pond reports that the team is bringing back Brian Skrudland and Gord Murphy – a couple of the most popular players from that era – to work in Florida’s front office.

The Panthers are going back to their roots and bringing back two of their former players back into the fold as Brian Skrudland and Gord Murphy are on their way back to South Florida.

GM Dale Tallon officially announced Tuesday than Skrudland will become the Panthers director of player development, with Murphy replacing Mike Kitchen behind the Florida bench as an assistant coach.

Both were part of the Florida’s 1996 Eastern Conference championship team, Skrudland being the team’s first captain.

It’s been a busy summer for the normally dormant Florida hockey franchise. Can they make good on Tallon’s changes or are they really just running in place? A few years might go by before those questions can truly be answered, but we’ll start to see if some progress has been made next season.

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
Leave a comment

Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.