The Florida Panthers weren’t the worst team this season, but they were certainly close. Acquiring goaltender Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks gives them more credibility, but their core of forwards remains a serious concern.
They do have some promising young talent like Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, but you need only look at the record they’re on the cusp of breaking to realize that much more work needs to be done.
With three games left in the Panthers schedule, Scottie Upshall leads the team with just 36 points. The record for the fewest points in an 82-game season by a team scoring leader is 39. To make matters worse the record-holder, Scott Pellerin, achieved that dubious distinction while playing for the 2000-01 Minnesota Wild in their expansion season.
Pellerin also spent part of the season with Carolina and consequently got those 39 points in 58 games with the Wild. By comparison, Upshall has participated in 73 contests in 2013-14.
“It’s kind of embarrassing that we don’t even have a guy with 40 points,” Upshall admitted, per the Miami Herald. “There’s no leading scorers on this team. We all have to realize we need to be better. You chip away, learn to bury your chances.”
Florida has a couple of other players that might save them from the record in 21-year-old Nick Bjugstad (35 points) and defenseman Brian Campbell (35). Brad Boyes has 34 points, but has missed the team’s last two games with a back injury.
At least they know that they can’t do much worse in this regard next season.
One of the driving forces behind the NHL’s growth over the last decade is moving on.
John Collins, who’s served as the league’s chief operating officer for the last seven years, will be leaving his post to embark on a new business opportunity.
More, from the League:
Collins, who joined the NHL in November 2006, had been COO since August 2008.
“John leaves a lasting mark,” said Commissioner Bettman. “His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors.”
Said Collins, “I’m grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be.
“The NHL’s future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League’s successes to come on the global stage.”
Collins, 53, was regarded as one of main presences behind a number of the NHL’s most successful initiatives, including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, the HBO 24/7 collaboration, the relaunched World Cup of Hockey, Canadian and American television deals and partnerships with companies like SAP, Adidas, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and GoPro.
During Collins’ tenure, the NHL was twice named “Sports League of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily — once in 2011, and again in 2014.
Columbus will have some reinforcements up front when it takes on the Devils tomorrow in New Jersey.
Brandon Dubinsky, who’s missed the last six games with an elbow injury, and Alexander Wennberg — who’s also missed the last six games, but with a foot ailment — have both been activated from injured reserve, and should be available for selection on Wednesday.
The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.
Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.
The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)