Author: Joe Yerdon

Vincent Viola

Official: Panthers sold to Vincent Viola for $250 million


A new era is about to start in Sunrise.

The Florida Panthers made it official today announcing the sale of the franchise to New York City businessman Vincent Viola for what’s believed to be $230 million. (Update: John Shannon of Sportsnet says it’s for $250 million with about half of that going to creditors) His official title is chairman, principal owner and governor of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and the Panthers. That’s a mouthful.

Viola is purchasing the team from, now former owner, Cliff Viner and his group of investors. Panthers coach Kevin Dineen tells George Richards of the Miami Herald he’s proud of what Viner did for the franchise.

“Cliff leaves the franchise much better than how he found it,” coach Kevin Dineen told the Miami Herald. “He leaves us on solid ground and heading in the right direction.”

Joining Viola in the front office is Douglas Cifu as vice chairman, partner and alternate governor. Michael Yormark, who you may recall from past Twitter dustups, is promoted to team president and CEO.

With new ownership in place, the team was able to sign goalie Tim Thomas to a one-year deal yesterday. Perhaps this is a sign of things making a a successful turnaround both on and off the ice for the Panthers.

Denis Brodeur, legendary photographer and Martin’s father, dies at 82

Denis Brodeur

Denis Brodeur, the father of future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur, has died at the age of 82.

Denis may be famous for being Martin’s father, but his own career as a sports photographer made him a legend in his own right. As Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice shares, after playing as a goalie in the 1950s, Denis’ photography became his legacy.

After his playing career, Denis went on to become an accomplished sports photographer, working for the Montreal Canadiens and the Montreal Expos. In 2006, the NHL purchased much of Denis Brodeur’s photography portfolio—more than 110,000 photos covering 40 years of hockey. Denis kept all his photos of his son, though.

Martin will miss tonight’s preseason game against Philadelphia as he flew home this afternoon to be with his father before he passed. Denis was a member of the 1956 Canadian Olympic team that won bronze at the Cortina D’Ampezzo games in Italy.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello offered this statement on Denis’ passing:

“The entire New Jersey Devils organization is tremendously saddened by the loss of Denis Brodeur, Sr.” Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team. “The Brodeurs have been part of the Devils’ family for over 23 years. Denis proudly dedicated his life, on and off the ice, to the game of hockey and for that he will be fondly remembered. Our thoughts and prayers, right now, are with Martin and his family. We ask that you respect the privacy of Martin and his family at this time.”

Carolina’s Skinner (lower body) to miss remainder of preseason

Jeff Skinner

Carolina’s Jeff Skinner won’t be seeing any more ice time in the preseason.

Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports Skinner will miss the team’s final two preseason games thanks to a lower body injury. Coach Kirk Muller is trying to play it cool with his young star.

“We just want to be smart and not push him,” Muller said.

Skinner labored through last season with a concussion and his play appeared to suffer after his return from it. Now with this issue popping up late in camp, those in Carolina have to be a bit nervous about how well he’ll start the season. He isn’t alone on the injury list for the Hurricanes though.

Forwards Elias Lindholm, Tuomo Ruutu, and Alexander Semin along with defenseman Tim Gleason are all banged up. That’s potentially three out of their top six forwards and a top-pair defenseman all hurting.

If Carolina is going to compete in the Metropolitan Division they’re going to need everyone at 100 percent. File that under: Duh.

Under Pressure: Evgeni Nabokov

Evgeni Nabokov

“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the New York Islanders we pick… Evgeni Nabokov.

Many people didn’t pay attention to how Nabokov played during the Islanders’ run into and during the playoffs mainly thanks to the extreme poor play of Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury. That’s probably a good thing for the 38-year-old Kazakhstan native because he was as bad, if not worse, than Fleury.

Now that the Islanders have a taste of what the playoffs are like and have a rising superstar in John Tavares to lead the way, it’s on Nabokov’s shoulders to make sure they get to return to the postseason. Fortunately for them, doing his job in the regular season hasn’t been an issue.

The past two seasons with the Islanders, he’s been steady. He hasn’t been a world-beater in goal but he’s done well enough to lock down the job. Last season saw him put up numbers similar to what he had in his final seasons with San Jose. If you’re trying to predict when his game is going to slip away, good luck.

In the postseason, however, it’s always been a different story and last year’s run with the Isles saw him have his worst playoff output in his career. That’s worrisome, but they’re fortunate he puts this stuff behind him quickly.

The Isles have enough talent up front and their defense should be a little better, but it’s up to Nabokov to be strong as they don’t have much help backing him up. If he falters at all, the Islanders will have it tough in the Metropolitan Division.

With teams like the Penguins, Rangers, Flyers, Devils, and Blue Jackets pushing for the postseason, they can’t afford to see him have an off year.

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.

Report: Thomas to sign one-year deal between $3-$4 million with Florida

Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas’ self-appointed NHL exile is about to come to an end.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the 39-year-old goalie will sign a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers once the team’s new owners take control. He says the contract will pay between $3-$4 million for the season and helps make their goaltending situation all the more interesting.

Before Thomas arrived on a tryout basis, GM Dale Tallon said it would be Jacob Markstrom’s team to lead. Now with a two-time Vezina Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion in the fold you have to wonder how that will change.

As for when the new ownership will take over, the team has called a press conference for tomorrow morning to announce Vincent Viola’s group as the new buyers.

If Viola’s group takes over today, there’s a chance Thomas could be signed right away and play in the Panthers’ preseason game tonight against Tampa Bay. At the latest, a deal should be done tomorrow.