Author: Jason Brough

Panthers co-owner does not care for critical newspaper column

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Florida Panthers co-owner Doug Cifu (@Dougielarge) took to Twitter today in response to a newspaper column that criticized his team’s potential deal with Broward County.

The column by Michael Mayo in the Sun Sentinel started like this:

The Florida Panthers are back with helmets in hand, looking for another handout from Broward County to help their struggling finances and shore up their future at the county-owned hockey arena in Sunrise.

County commissioners will vote Tuesday on the $86 million aid package.

Their choices are bad and worse: Dole out corporate welfare to help billionaire owners and millionaire athletes, or perhaps lose an anchor tenant at an arena that still has more than a decade of bond repayments left.

And it ended like this:

Considering the worsening impact of tidal flooding and sea rise along the coast, it also might be time to explore using hotel-room taxes for that situation.

Somehow, a hockey team on thin ice takes higher priority than a potential crisis that could dampen tourism and swamp us all.

That last part is what seemed to draw Cifu’s ire.

cifu

We’ll have more on all this tomorrow after the big vote. The Sun Sentinel wrote last week that the deal “could pass by a slim margin,” but Broward Mayor Marty Kiar expects it to be close.

Related: About this reported deal that’s going to keep the Panthers in South Florida

From afterthought to No. 1– Nilsson getting it done for Oilers

Anders Nilsson, Eric Gryba, Matt Hendricks
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Ah, the unpredictability of goaltending. Every day it seems there’s a new story that proves how hard it can be to forecast the most important position in hockey.

Take the case of Anders Nilsson.

At the beginning of the season, the 25-year-old former Islander was more of an afterthought in Edmonton. He was the guy who came to camp after spending last year in the KHL. It was supposed to be Cam Talbot who was going to give the Oilers some much-needed stability between the pipes. And if it wasn’t Talbot, hey, maybe Ben Scrivens could bounce back.

But Talbot hasn’t been the answer. In fact, he’s got the lowest save percentage (.889) in the NHL among goalies that have started at least 10 games.

Scrivens? He’s not even in the NHL anymore.

Nilsson, meanwhile, has won three straight starts and has a .957 save percentage in December. His overall save rate has climbed to .922.

So, of course the question is being asked — is Nilsson the long-term answer for the Oilers?

Wisely, he’s not going there.

“I’m trying not to get ahead of myself,” Nilsson told the Edmonton Sun. “I’m trying not to look back as much. I’m trying to live in the present moment all the time. I feel that helps me to get focused and stay focused.”

Nilsson is a pending restricted free agent. His current cap hit is $1 million.

Hurricanes president denies team could move to Quebec

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The Carolina Hurricanes are for sale.

The Carolina Hurricanes are also dead last in NHL attendance.

Combined those two facts with a new arena in Quebec City, and what do you get?

Relocation rumors, of course.

Hurricanes president Don Waddell would like to put an end to those rumors.

“We heard all of that stuff too,” Waddell told La Presse (quotes have been translated). “One day, I heard that I was on a private jet heading to Quebec. I went to everyone in the office that day and told them, ‘Hey, it looks like I’m in Quebec!'”

Waddell guaranteed that he and owner Peter Karmanos Jr. never went to Quebec. Because why would they? The Hurricanes have a lease at PNC Arena that runs through 2024.

“Our lease is a public document that everyone has access to,” he said. “Try to find a way out of it and when you do, call Pete and tell him how.”

Still, don’t expect these relocation rumors to die down — whether they involve the Hurricanes, Panthers, Coyotes, or whoever — because there’s good reason to believe Quebec City won’t be granted an expansion team anytime soon.

“I’m not sure I’m in favor of expansion,” said Waddell. “I share the same opinion as our owner, in that I think our current teams all need to be healthy and in a good place. If that’s the case, then we can talk expansion.”

Karmanos, by the way, is a member of the committee that’s in charge of recommending, or not recommending, expansion.

Related: Bettman says no need to worry that ‘Canes will move

Marchand kinda defended Prust today — ‘It’s part of the game’

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Brad Marchand understands that Brandon Prust was frustrated. He gets why Prust did what he did Saturday in Vancouver. It happens sometimes. Hockey is an emotional game.

“If you’re down by a few goals, or you’re having a bad game, somebody takes a shot at you, someone says the wrong thing, guys get upset and they take shots at guys,” Marchand told reporters today.

“I think it’s just human nature. There’s a lot of good players that take jabs at guys. People can say whatever they want. I’m not overly upset about what happened. It’s part of the game. I’ve done it, and I’m sure he’s done it before. I’m sure it won’t be the last, and it won’t be the last time I do it.

“It is what it is. It’s part of hockey.”

Marchand is obviously aware that a former teammate of his, Milan Lucic, was fined just last year for doing exactly what Prust was fined for doing. He’s also well aware of his own reputation. He’s no angel and he doesn’t pretend to be.

If anything, what bothered Marchand was the notion that Prust was a player that followed The Code.

“I thought that he played with a lot more class in his game,” said Marchand. “Clearly he doesn’t have that integrity that a lot of people thought he had.”

Yesterday, Prust joked that the $5,000 he was fined for spearing Marchand was the “best money I ever spent.”

About that, Marchand said:

“Brandon’s got lots of money. I know he’s not worried about his five grand. If he wants to act cool about it, that’s fine. I’m not concerned about how he feels.”

Oh, and Marchand denied that he was faking:

“I think if anyone has ever been hit in the fun spot, they know that it doesn’t feel good.”

Sedin: ‘I would love to play against us right now’

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The Vancouver Canucks are reeling. They’ve lost five straight and are 3-9-4 since starting 6-2-4. Not surprisingly, the fans are beginning to get flashbacks to 2013-14.

In the moments after Saturday’s 4-0 home loss to Boston — arguably the Canucks’ worst defeat of the season — captain Henrik Sedin offered a scathing assessment of his team’s recent play.

“I would love to play against us right now,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Sedin did not say that it was an effort issue; he insisted that the Canucks were working hard. His point was that they needed to work smarter.

“Make the easy play. Get it deep,” he said. “We can’t keep turning pucks over like we are.”

Sedin was asked if it felt like two years ago, when the Canucks started 23-11-6 under coach John Tortorella before collapsing and missing the playoffs.

“I don’t think it’s the same feeling. It’s two totally different teams,” he said. “A few years back, we ran into a lot of injury problems. We have injuries now, too, but as a team we’re built differently. We have a lot of young guys coming up.

“We’ve got to realize, maybe it’s not about winning tomorrow’s game. Maybe it’s about getting back on track and focusing on playing the right way.”

Translation: Don’t worry about the results; you can’t force those. It’s all about the process.

“We keep talking about, ‘We gotta get a win, we gotta get a win,'” he said. “But if you keep thinking that way in your head, as a scorer or an offensive guy when you haven’t produced in a while, it puts too much pressure on you.”

Now, it should be noted that Canucks coach Willie Desjardins had called the Boston game a “must” for his team.

Though Desjardins didn’t go so far as to call it a “must win,” Sedin clearly feels that the Canucks have been going about things the wrong way.

Vancouver hosts Buffalo tonight and the Rangers Wednesday. After that, it’s a six-game road trip, followed by the Christmas break.

Amazingly, the Canucks are just one point out of a playoff spot in the woeful Pacific Division.