Author: Joe Yerdon

Douglas Cifu

Pols support Panthers bailout plan; Co-owner says team is losing $100K daily


Remember when the new owners of the Florida Panthers asked Broward County for money because they claimed to be losing $20-$30 million annually? Politicians there reportedly support the plan to help out the franchise.

Brittany Wallman of the Sun Sentinel reports six out of eight Broward County commissioners support a plan to give money to the team to help make sure the team stays in South Florida. The Panthers are asking for an extra $80 million.

Team co-owner Douglas Cifu said the money is needed because they’re bleeding money even worse than what was previously assessed.

“We’re losing $100,000 a day,” said Cifu. “So where I sit, time is of the essence.”

The one good thing going for the Panthers is they have one of the best lease deals in the NHL. Concerts and other events at BB&T Center are making money for the team and the deal runs through 2028.

Working against the Panthers is the amount of debt left to pay on the arena, totaling around $225 million. The team is looking to get a break on  payments against that through money taken from tourist taxes that have produced more money than they expected over the years.

Vokoun medically cleared for action following blood clot issue

Tomas Vokoun

NHL practices resumed today and the Pittsburgh Penguins had a new-old face on the ice at their session.

Goalie Tomas Vokoun was medically cleared after being out since September with a blood clot issue and took part in team practice in Pittsburgh. As Sam Kasan of the Penguins’ site shares, Vokoun is happy to get back out there.

“My agenda is practice and see how I feel and how it goes. Take it one day at a time,” Vokoun said. “It’s pretty much left open. I’m trying to get back, see how I feel. Make sure (it) holds up.”

Vokoun, 37,  said he’ll push himself as hard as he can to get back in the Penguins’ lineup. Jeff Zatkoff took over for him as the backup behind Marc-Andre Fleury when his blood clot issue was discovered.

Vokoun said he nearly died from the problem that arose in September. Since having the blood clot dissolved, he was put on blood thinners right away and has been off them since mid-January. It was then that he returned to the ice to skate, but now he’s back to facing shots.

Zatkoff has performed admirably in Vokoun’s absence, but if they can get the veteran goalie back before the end of the season, the Pens would enjoy giving Fleury a few extra nights off to prepare for the playoffs.

Oates says it’s unfair to hang Russia’s loss on Ovechkin

Alexander Ovechkin

The Sochi Olympics turned into a nightmare for Alex Ovechkin and Team Russia.

The reigning NHL MVP had one goal in the opening game against Slovenia and was held scoreless the rest of the way, including today’s 3-1 elimination loss to Finland.

While Russia’s coach was quick to throw Ovechkin under the bus for his performance, Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates said it’s unfair to hang all the blame on one player as Chuck Gormley of shares.

“You can only control the way you play, right?” Oates said. “You can’t control the way the team plays or how it evolves. Obviously, it’s not the ending they wanted, but this is the third Olympics in a row they haven’t medaled, so it’s not on one guy. It’s on the group and at some point I’ll have a chance to talk to [Ovechkin] about that.

“That’s why you can’t criticize one guy. It’s easy from the cheap seats. In fairness to them, they had the most pressure because it’s the host country.”

Oates is right, what ails Russia is more than just one superstar not scoring goals. Ovechkin is the face of the Russian team, however, and with that comes fair and unfair expectations all around.

Scoring just one goal makes it a bad performance, but there’s more than enough blame to go around for Russia’s poor finish. Putting it all on Ovechkin isn’t close to fair.