The Florida Panthers have been playing against the Dallas Stars tonight. Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim hasn’t been and the reason head coach Gerard Gallant gave for his decision angered agent Todd Diamond.
Gallant felt that the 31-year-old forward didn’t give 100% against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and he was scratched accordingly.
“There’s a few guys that didn’t give 100 percent [Thursday], but you got to make a decision,” Gallant added, per the Sun Sentinel.
When Diamond learned of Gallant’s remarks he fired back.
“It’s so disingenuous,” Diamond said. “When has Sean Bergenheim ever taken a shift less than 100 percent.
“It’s unprofessional of the coach. You get away with that in the Quebec junior league, but not in the NHL. … You can’t tell me the team is better without Sean playing, even on the fourth line. He’s a disruptive force in the offensive zone, who keeps the puck and creates chaos.
“It’s a shame a guy makes that comment. It’s a disgrace. I find it distasteful. … If they want to question Sean’s character they should have their head examined.”
Diamond also revealed that he asked Panthers GM Dale Tallon to trade his client before any of this even happened. The request was in response to Bergenheim being scratched for three consecutive contests from Feb. 3-8.
Bergenheim has eight goals and 18 points in 39 contests in 2014-15. He’s in the final season of a four-year, $11 million contract.
During his tenure with the Panthers, Bergenheim and the team sparred in an arbitration case over his salary for the 2013 lockout shortened campaign. He couldn’t play after the work stoppage because of a hip injury. Florida argued it didn’t have to pay Bergenheim because it claimed the injury was sustained while he was playing in the Finnish league. Bergenheim countered that he was originally hurt before the lockout and he ultimately won his medical grievance.
Kari Lehtonen will begin life on a short leash tonight against Florida — he’ll start against the Panthers, but will have newly acquired backup Jhonas Enroth on the bench for the first time since GM Jim Nill acquired him from Buffalo on Wednesday.
Lehtonen, who has been criticized this year for his uneven play, is 4-2-1 with a 2.70 GAA and .916 save percentage since the All-Star break — decent numbers, but hardly the type Dallas needs as it looks to get back into a playoff position.
Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad is having a fantastic rookie season. In a normal year, he’d probably be an easy choice for the Calder.
That doesn’t mean he is immune to making mistakes, though. The first-year blueliner bowled over an official in Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild:
There was no penalty on the play and everyone looked fine afterward, so let’s file this under good for a giggle.
It’s hard to imagine anything coming Ekblad’s way other than some gentle ribbing and a blooper reel appearance or two since it was clearly accidental. Naturally, if something does happen, it will be noted.
(And yes, the Wild winning is easily the bigger deal here, but how many times can you skin that “Devan Dubnyk is on fire” cat? In case you’re wondering, he’s still on fire.)
Pirri, who suffered the injury on his first shift in a 6-2 win over Anaheim on Tuesday, had really found his groove lately after being in and out of the Florida lineup for most of the season. The former ‘Hawk had six goals in eight games prior to getting hurt, and had arguably his best outing of the season in a 4-2 win over the Islanders on Feb. 3 (one goal, one assist, four shots and nearly 16 minutes of ice time.)
The Panthers will miss Pirri’s offense. They sit just 24th in the NHL in goals per game and are still clinging to hopes of a playoff spot, heading into Thursday’s game with Minnesota just four points back of Boston for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference.