Dineen: Thomas ‘great option’ to start Panthers’ season opener


Sounds as though Tim Thomas will be an opening night starter.

On Sunday, Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said Thomas would be a “great option” to start Florida’s first game in Dallas on Thursday, all but confirming earlier reports Thomas would enter the season as the team’s No. 1 netminder.

“Tim has really established himself with our team and our organization within a short period of time,” Dineen told the Miami Herald. “[Thomas] is a good guy and a real solid player for us right now.

“He’s a great option for us on Thursday night.”

The remarks speak to how quickly things have changed in Florida over the last two weeks.

After Scott Clemmensen went down to injury, it was expected 23-year-old Jacob Markstrom would begin the year as the team’s starter. But Florida flipped the script by bringing Thomas to camp on a PTO in mid-September, then signing him to a one-year deal shortly thereafter.

Thomas then shined in his first preseason action, stopping nine of 10 shots in a loss to Tampa Bay.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron

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Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.