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Florida Panthers president Michael Yormark steps in it knee-deep lashing out at beat writer George Richards

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Yesterday the Florida Panthers had themselves a grand sell-off at the trade deadline. They swung deals with every team in their division aside from in-state rival Tampa Bay and also sent Chris Higgins to Vancouver. We actually liked what Florida did by blowing up their team but retaining their biggest pieces and made them one of our deadline day winners.

As will happen during the course of the season, and especially on deadline day, the beat writers will get their patience tested. George Richards of The Miami Herald and the outstanding Panthers blog On Frozen Pond was taking to Twitter throughout the afternoon and giving his thoughts on what he referred to as the #FlaPanthersSalaryDump and #FlaPanthersSalaryPurge. It was an amusing take to have on a day where the home team he’s covering in the midst of helping out everyone else get ready to make a run at or in the playoffs while the Panthers check out of the race for good.

One guy who wasn’t too thrilled with Richards’ take on things was Panthers team president Michael Yormark. Yormark took to his own Twitter account and gave his thoughts on Richards’ take on the day’s proceedings. As you might expect, he wasn’t exactly thrilled.

Before your imagination gets out of hand, the ADT Club is the club seating part of the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida – the home of the Panthers. Think of it as the VIP section of the arena where the seats are cozier, the food is better, and you’re probably there wearing a suit and hanging out with your corporate friends.

The insult, of course, comes across as spiteful and foolish since the Panthers aren’t exactly a team that draws a lot of attention in the first place (particularly on television) and ripping one of your two beat reporters comes across as incredibly petty. Let’s face it, when you’re in south Florida, hockey is just about the last sport that comes to mind and with LeBron James and the Heat getting all the attention in town these days, picking a public argument is about as pathetic as it gets.

Richards has taken the high road in the matter and rather than continuing the public snipe-fest he’s diffusing the situation rather nicely and says that they’ve “done this dance before, just not on Twitter.” Still, Panthers fans just feel deflated by the whole thing as Donny Rivette of Litter Box Cats sums up nicely about the whole dust up.

Exactly what is being implied here by the president and chief operating officer of a National Hockey League franchise? A club with only two regular beat writers (there’s that annoying no-playoffs-in-ten-years thing!). A team which carries a diminished yet ferociously-dedicated fanbase into yet another “rebuild”, albeit one we can actually sign our names to with confidence. One step forward, two big leaps back.

Richards has forever gone the extra mile for Panthers fans in what’s been a limited market, providing video clips and real-time mailbags and a dozen other selfless offerings which a lesser journalist would never expend energy on.

If this is a personal rift between the two then it should be handled as such; not on a social media network. Helluva price to pay for whichever party winds up in the “wrong”, at least publicly.

Publicly biting the hand that feeds, and that’s just what Yormark has done here, never looks good and when you’re a guy in a position of power you have to be a bit more PR-savvy than this. After all, if you’re not liking what the local beat guy is saying it’s never been beyond a team executive before to take them aside and have a lively discussion.

Chances are that Richards and Yormark have been down that road before and perhaps Yormark has had enough of the snark. Doing that in the court of public opinion has it’s pitfalls though and when you’re the president of a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in over ten years in a market that’s hurting for fans. Verbally smacking around the guy responsible for giving your team fantastic coverage, perhaps more than it even deserves, is insulting though.

After all, if you don’t want to be the butt of jokes or the source of extreme sarcasm you need to do something to change that. Yesterday’s moves by the Panthers were the first, but painful, step in that process and if you can’t have fun with the whole thing it just gets depressing. Instead of getting your dander up about it, letting it fly and sticking to the message at hand that things are changing and they’ll get better under Dale Tallon is all the fans need to know. We know Michael Yormark is a smart guy, we’re just hoping next time he’s mad about the coverage he just takes it to e-mail instead.

The NHL will reveal its 100 greatest players as part of centennial celebration

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27:  NHL icon Wayne Gretzky attends the unveiling the league's Centennial celebration plans for 2017 during a press conference at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday the NHL announced all of the festivities that will take place during its centennial celebration that will kick off on Jan. 1.

The first major announcement was that Wayne Gretzky, arguably the greatest player in the history of the league, will serve as the ambassador for all of the celebrations that will take place on Jan. 1 during the outdoor game in Toronto at BMO field between the Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs. It’s fitting that Gretzky is going to be a part of this celebration because naming the greatest player in league history is going to be a big part of the celebration.

“A century of great players, great plays and great moments deserves a year-long celebration, and we invite everyone to join our party in 2017,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said on Tuesday, via NHL.com.

“We are delighted that Wayne Gretzky — whose spectacular contributions on the ice matched his immeasurable graciousness and popularity off the ice — will serve as our Centennial’s official ambassador as we honor all the drama, suspense, excitement and memories that have thrilled the best fans in sports for generations.”

Along with the outdoor game in Toronto, the NHL has a full schedule planned to mark its 100th anniversary, including the top-100 most iconic moments in league history, NHL time capsules that look back at the history of the league, and a number of documentaries that cover everything from the Stanley Cup, to all of the key moments and milestones in league history.

But the one event that seems like it will draw the most attention (mainly because we love to argue about lists) is the announcement of the top-100 players in the history of the league. According to the league, the list was assembled by “a blue ribbon panel of distinguished members from across the hockey community – including former and current executives, media members, and NHL alumni.”

“It’s like when you’re a kid and you collect hockey cards, you want to trade this guy for that guy, and everybody wanted to have the right cards,” said Gretzky. “Here we are now, we’re going to pick the top 100 players and it’s not going to be easy because there has been so many great players all the way back to the 30s and 40s and 50s. So obviously it’s a tough task for everyone. There are so many great young players today, there were great players when I played and before I played. So picking this is going to be difficult, but it’ll be a thrill for anyone who is part of that top 100.”

The list will be announced in two parts.

As part of the outdoor celebration in Toronto on Jan. 1, the league will announce the players on the list that played their career between the 1917 and 1966 seasons, covering the pre-Original Six and Original Six eras. The remainder of the list, which covers the post-expansion era, when the league doubled in size from six teams to 12 in 1967, will be announced during the All-Star weekend celebration in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Kings were one of the six teams that gained entry into the league during the 1967 season.

It seems quite likely that Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leader in goals, assists, and points, and also the ambassador of the centennial celebrations, will top that list. He become the NHL’s all-time leading scorer while a member of the Kings.

The big question for debate then becomes the order players like Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard and Jean Beliveau are in after him.

Daly: NHL could skip 2018 Olympics and return in 2022

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Sidney Crosby #87 celebrates with Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44, John Tavares #20, Shea Weber #6 of Team Canada after his first period goal against Team Russia during the World Cup of Hockey game at the semifinal game during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at the Air Canada Centre on September 24, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
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The NHL’s participation in the 2018 Olympics is in Pyeongchang, South Korea is still undetermined, and on Tuesday deputy commissioner Bill Daly didn’t sound overly optimistic about the chances of their players taking part.

At a press conference in Toronto on Tuesday before the first game of the World Cup Final, Daly said that there has been no progress on the NHL’s participation in the games and that he is currently more down on the possibility than he was two years ago.

“I’m not going to handicap it, but what I’d say is I think time is very short to make a decision and I’m not sure there’s been a lot of progress made in the past six months,” Daly said, via the Canadian Press. “And I’m not sure there’s any prospect of progress being made.”

He also added, via Sportsnet’s, Chris Johnson that it is possible that the NHL could skip the 2018 games and then return for the 2022 games in Beijing.

NHL players have participated in the Winter Olympics since 1998, and in recent years there’s almost always been a debate leading up to the games as to whether or not the NHL will be able to come to an agreement with the IOC and IIHF. Game times, shutting the NHL season down for more than two weeks and the insurance that goes with covering the players It has, to this point, always worked out.

Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has repeatedly said that he will play for Russia in 2018 whether the NHL agrees to send its players or not.

On Tuesday, Daly was asked about Ovechkin’s desire to play and said that at this point it will be something that the team has to handle at its own discretion.

Gretzky returns to NHL fold as official ambassador of centennial celebration

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 6:  Former Edmonton Oilers forward Wayne Gretzky greets fans during the closing ceremonies at Rexall Place following the game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks on April 6, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The game was the final game the Oilers played at Rexall Place before moving to Rogers Place next season. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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The National Hockey League was founded on November 26, 1917. Almost ninety-nine years later, the commissioner of the league, Gary Bettman, was in Toronto to announce that Wayne Gretzky, arguably its greatest player ever, would be the official ambassador of its centennial celebration.

For Gretzky, whose relationship with the NHL was tested during the Phoenix Coyotes’ bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, it marks a return to representing the league in an official capacity. (In 2013, he was reportedly paid around $8 million in a settlement.)

“It’s a tremendous honor,” Gretzky said in a statement. “I’ve said this a million times that everything I have in my life is because of hockey and because of the National Hockey League. I happen to think it’s the greatest game in the world. It was kind to me my whole life. The game just gets better every year, so for me to be involved in just trying to help promote and sell our sport even more it’s a great thrill for me and an honor to be part of it.”

Watch the following video to see what the NHL has in store for 2017, starting on Jan. 1 with the Centennial Classic at BMO Field between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings:

 

Report: Panarin wants six-year deal from ‘Hawks, at least $6M per season

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 22:  Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks poses after winning the Calder Trophy named for the top rookie at the 2016 NHL Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on June 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Artemi Panarin is looking to cash in on his Calder-winning campaign.

Chicago’s prized Russian sniper and the reigning rookie of the year, Panarin is reportedly seeking a six-year contract extension “worth more than $6 million per season,” per the Chicago Tribune.

As the Tribune points out, that figure could be problematic. Nobody’s arguing that Panarin isn’t worth the money — he’s 24, and coming off a 30-goal, 77-point campaign — but people are wondering how the ‘Hawks can afford him. Eight players on the active roster are pulling in at least $4 million per season, which includes Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, they of the $10.5M cap hits.

That said, it sure sounds like Panarin will get done.

Reports last week said his agent and ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman were well into extension talks, and Bowman seemed confident a deal would be inked.

“I respect Tom [Lynn, Panarin’s agent], he’s a very knowledgeable guy and I know Artemi put a lot of faith in him,” Bowman said. “Tom and I will work to get something done.”

Panarin’s heading into the last of a two-year, $6.775 million deal with a $3.387 AAV — a deal that gained plenty of notoriety as the season progressed. Since it was so performance-laden, Panarin cashed in a couple of times, including a $1.725 million bonus for finishing among the top-10 scorers in the NHL.

That led to Bowman making some tough financial decisions this offseason, including the deal that sent Bryan Bickell — more specifically, Bryan Bickell’s contract — and Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina in exchange for draft picks.

So, this latest situation isn’t anything new for the ‘Hawks GM. He’s been down the financial squeeze road before, and usually found a way to keep his core players in the mix.

If Panarin is considered a core guy — and at this point, it sure sounds like he is — then finding common ground on an extension shouldn’t be too difficult.