Vincent Viola

Panthers owner: ‘We intend on being in the free agent market in a significant way’


Vinnie Viola says the Florida Panthers are going to be aggressive during this summer’s free agency period.

“We intend on being in the free agent market in a significant way” Viola told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “We’re here to build a winner.”

Under normal circumstances, this might sound like an owner paying lip service to fans of a struggling fanbase, but a couple things stand out.

One, Viola has already opened up the checkbook. Within 48 hours of finalizing his purchase of the club, Viola gave GM Dale Tallon the greelight to spend on unattached veteran free agents — which he did, spending $6 million on Tim Thomas, Brad Boyes, Jesse Winchester, Tom Gilbert and Krys Barch.

Thomas, 39, was perhaps the best example of an aggressive free agent approach. He didn’t come cheap — $3.75 million in salary — and was a big risk given he’d been away from the NHL for over a year, but the gamble has paid off as Thomas has become a workhorse for the Panthers and kept the struggling team afloat on certain nights.

Another thing to consider? Tallon’s history playing the free agent market.

Prior to the 2011-12 campaign, Tallon went out and revamped the club through a series of signings: Tomas Fleischmann, Jose Theodore, Sean Bergenheim, Ed Jovanovski and Scottie Upshall, to name a few. The result was a Southeast Division championship and the club’s first playoff appearance since 2000.

Viola wants to see the club get back to that level.

“We want to patiently win now,” he explained. “I don’t know if we can resolve the two logically, but that’s how I would say it.”

Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Montreal Canadiens v Minnesota Wild
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Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?

TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:

“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”


Daly said that he’d be surprised  “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”

As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.

For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.

The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.

So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?

At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”

Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.