Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

‘Canes drop Torres from PTO, send first-rounders Bean and Gauthier to junior


Raffi Torres’ time as a Hurricane is over.

On Thursday, Carolina announced that the veteran forward has been released from his training camp tryout, after appearing in a handful of preseason games.

Torres, 34, did look as though he sufficiently recovered from a knee injury that’s cost him most of the last three seasons. Those knee problems, along with various suspensions, have limited him to just five regular season games since ’13-14.

But even with those problems solved, Torres didn’t show enough to stick with a Carolina club that’s got plenty of youth — and speed — at the forward position.

And speaking of youth, Carolina’s first two picks at this year’s draft — defenseman Jake Bean (13th overall) and forward Julien Gauthier (21st) — have been sent back to their junior teams in WHL Calgary and QMJHL Val d’Or.

Bean, 18, was the third defenseman off the board at the June draft, behind Vancouver’s Olli Juolevi and Montreal’s Mikhail Sergachev. Gauthier, also 18, was one of the most physically imposing prospects taken this year — he stands 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, and comes from a lineage of bodybuilders (both his dad and grandfather competed).

In addition to Bean and Gauthier, other touted prospects were sent packing from ‘Canes camp today as well. They include Aleksi Saarela (acquired in the Eric Staal-to-New York trade) and Valentin Zykov (acquired in the Kris Versteeg-to-L.A. trade).

Panthers lose Bjugstad (broken hand) for four weeks


Florida will be missing a key piece of the lineup when it begins regular season play next Thursday.

Nick Bjugstad, the rangy center that led the team in goals two years ago, suffered a broken hand in an exhibition game against Dallas that will sideline him for a month, per the Miami Herald.

Bjugstad, 23, was a big part of Florida’s success last season. He had 15 goals and 34 points in 67 games — averaging more than 15 minutes per night — and was one of the team’s top faceoff men.

His biggest problem has been staying healthy.

Combined, the Minnesota native has missed 25 games to various ailments over the last two years, and was knocked out Florida’s opening-round playoff loss to the Isles with an upper-body injury. He’s also dealt with back issues, and underwent season-ending surgery to correct the problem near the finish of the ’14-15 campaign.

When healthy, though, Bjugstad is a vital contributor. His absence should be softened by the fact Florida has good depth down the middle — expect the likes of Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck and Derek MacKenzie to pick up additional responsibilities over the next month.

Florida releases veteran d-man Pardy from PTO

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Adam Pardy’s quest to crack the Panthers’ new-look defense is over.

Pardy, signed to a training camp PTO back in early September, was released on Thursday morning, the club announced.

Pardy, 32, split last season between Winnipeg and Edmonton after the Oilers picked him up off waivers in late February.

At 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, Pardy’s always been a robust physical player that plays with an edge (something the Panthers lost in trading away Erik Gudbranson this summer).

His skating and offensive ability have been called into question, though — he’s never scored more than 10 points in a single season — and there are concerns about his ability to keep up.

Could be why he failed to crack the opening-night roster. Pardy’s release, along with yesterday’s waiving of Jakub Kindl, leaves nine defensemen left in the mix: Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, Jason Demers, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Mike Matheson, Ian McCoshen, Steve Kampfer and OHL Owen Sound product Thomas Schemitsch.

Panthers, Lightning won’t make up game cancelled by Hurricane Matthew


Yesterday, we passed along word that a Thursday preseason game between the Bolts and Panthers in Sunrise had been cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew.

Today, the two sides decided not to reschedule it.

The storm, expected to hit Florida either Thursday evening, strengthened yet again on Thursday as many residents evacuated the area.

More, from NBC News:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott pleaded with residents to follow evacuation orders.

“Do not surf. Do not go on the beach. This will kill you,” he said at a press conference Thursday. “There is no reason not to leave.”

Scott activated 2,500 members of the National Guard to assist with the storm and warned Floridians that projected winds of 100 to 150 mph will destroy houses and “millions will lose power, possibly for a long period of time.”

“My goal is to make sure everyone is prepared,” he said, urging residents to fill up on gas and other supplies now. “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”

The cancellation means Florida will play just one more exhibition game — on Saturday, Oct. 8 against the Devils — before opening the season against those same Devils on Thursday, Oct. 13.

The Lightning, meanwhile, will wrap their preseason on Saturday against Nashville, then open next Thursday at home against Detroit.

No hard feelings: Bolts to retire Martin St. Louis’ No. 26


In Tampa Bay, they’re letting bygones be bygones.

Martin St. Louis, the Lightning’s all-time leading scorer, will have his No. 26 jersey retired this season when Tampa Bay hosts John Tortorella and the Blue Jackets on Jan. 13.

“Everyone in the organization is excited to celebrate and thank Marty for his immense long-term contributions to the Lightning’s past successes and the Tampa Bay community,” owner Jeff Vinik said in a release. “As Marty enters his second year in retirement from the game, we believe this season is the time to hang his number from the rafters at AMALIE Arena.

“Marty had a terrific career in Tampa Bay, making six All-Star appearances while setting numerous team records, all highlighted of course by the Stanley Cup win in 2004. We look forward to a wonderful retirement ceremony, recognizing him for all that he accomplished as a member of the Lightning.”

This will mark the first in franchise history the Bolts have retired a number.

Undrafted out of the University of Vermont, St. Louis landed with the Lightning in 2000 and went on to a stellar career, highlighted by the aforementioned Cup victory in ’04 (under Tortorella, a nice touch for the Jan. 13 ceremony).

Statistically, he finished with 365 goals and 953 points in 972 games. He also served as captain, inheriting the role from Vincent Lecavalier in ’13.

He played nearly his entire career in Tampa Bay, though his time with the organization ended acrimoniously. After Bolts GM Steve Yzerman elected not to select St. Louis for Canada’s 2014 Olympic squad, St. Louis requested a trade from Tampa and eventually moved to New York, helping the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Though there were some bitter moments at the time of the trade, both sides tried to  move past the situation. St. Louis constantly re-iterated his love for the fans, city and community and, in his first game back in Tampa Bay following the trade, the organization honored him with a video tribute.

“To have my number retired by the Lightning is a tremendous honor and I’d like to thank Jeff Vinik and everyone in the organization for recognizing me this way,” St. Louis said in today’s release. I have many great memories in Tampa Bay, including our great Stanley Cup win, and this night will be extremely special and emotional for my family and me.  

“I am happy I will get to share the evening with all the Lightning fans who have always supported me throughout my career – Tampa Bay will always feel like home to me.”