Dineen ‘worried’ about Bergenheim’s career, questions his toughness

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Things are getting ugly between Florida head coach Kevin Dineen and forward Sean Bergenheim.

Bergenheim, who hasn’t played for the Panthers since Apr. 2012 due to hip, groin and abdomen injuries, had his commitment level called into question by Dineen on Friday.

“I’m worried about his career, I’m worried about him as a player,” Dineen told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “It’s been an extremely long time off. I understand it’s an extremely hard game we play. He’s not a good player unless he’s physically involved in the game and he’s active.”

Dineen wasn’t done there.

“[Bergenheim] can’t feel his way into the NHL,” he continued. “That just can’t happen. He’s got to come back, feeling good about himself, understanding, you know what, there are guys in here that have bumps and bruises, and are playing hurt every night. You’re not going to feel 100 percent playing.”

Bergenheim, 29, has been working out with a Toronto-based therapist for the last few days in the hopes of returning to the lineup. The trip north was the latest development in what’s been a rocky injury rehab.

Here’s more, from the Sun-Sentinel:

Bergenheim, who signed a four-year, $11 million contract with the Panthers in the summer of 2011, and was a huge part of the franchise’s turnaround and first playoff berth in 10 seasons, has played just two games in nearly 18 months. Both were with his hometown team HIFK in Helsinki’s SM-liiga during the lockout.

The Panthers believed that Bergenheim re-aggravated a core injury that he had dealt with during the previous season’s stretch run, so they suspended him without pay in January after the lockout ended. However, Bergenheim won two injury grievances against the Panthers, and eventually earned his full $2.75 million salary.

The grievance cases caused him to put off two surgeries on his hip/groin and abdomen until early March, more than seven months ago. Bergenheim has been practicing with the Panthers for several weeks, and was supposed to consult with his surgeon in Nashville last Monday for a possible green light to play against the Predators on Tuesday.

But instead of returning to the lineup against Nashville, Bergenheim went to Toronto.

When healthy, Bergenheim can be a highly effective player. In 2011-12, he finished fourth on the Panthers in goals (17) despite missing 20 games.

He’s also showed an ability to raise his game in the postseason. In 23 playoff games with the Lightning and Panthers, he’s scored 12 goals and 17 points.

Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

Jaromir Jagr
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This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Hamburglar (groin) returns, Sens demote O’Connor

Andrew Hammond
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Matt O'Connor‘s time in the Canadian capital was brief, but still noteworthy.

O’Connor, the losing netminder in Sunday’s “Battle of the Backups” against Montreal — Habs No. 2 Mike Condon got the win — has been sent down to AHL Binghamton to pave the way for Andrew Hammond‘s return from a groin injury, per the Sun.

The Hamburglar has been out since the preseason, but his return is earlier than expected.

He was originally supposed to miss the first two weeks, yet now sounds as though he’ll play one of Ottawa’s two games on an upcoming road trip through Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.