Roberto Luongo

Panthers owners say they’re committed even though team has lost ‘tremendous amounts of money’


Yes, the Florida Panthers have “lost tremendous amounts of money” during the last decade-plus, but their still-relatively-new ownership group aims to change that.

At least, that’s the unusually candid message that Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu expressed in an open letter to Panthers fans on Wednesday:

As we close in on the one-year anniversary of our ownership of the Florida Panthers, we want to reiterate our commitment to Broward County, South Florida and our Panthers fans and business partners. As we said at the press conference when we bought the team, we view ourselves as stewards of the team for the community and our plan is to build an organization that makes South Florida proud and to win the Stanley Cup in South Florida. Despite media speculation to the contrary, we have no plans or intentions to move this franchise.

We made a commitment to the Panthers and to South Florida when we bought the team to build a successful organization on and off the ice. We have been working hard to live up to that commitment. Starting with the trade to bring Roberto Luongo, one of the world’s top goaltenders, back home to South Florida, and continuing with our committing over $80 million to new players, including bringing six talented veteran free agents to South Florida and resigning all of our restricted free agents, we have dedicated ourselves to improving the team. Off the ice, we continue to expand our community outreach initiatives and look forward to continue to contribute to the quality of life for residents.

It is no secret that the Panthers and BB&T Center have lost tremendous amounts of money over the last dozen years. We are working hard to address this situation, which we believe we can do with the support from our loyal fans, our business partners, the business community and our community-at-large.

We look forward to a winning season and bringing a Stanley Cup to South Florida.

With Warm Regards,

Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu, Co-Owners


Consider this something of a “vote of confidence” after Cifu expressed concern about the team’s long-term viability considering such losses.

Back in January, the team asked the county to offset $20-$30 million in annual losses, which didn’t go over too well at first. Broward County is reportedly researching a request which might swell to $80 million when various losses are added up.

Long story short, there are a lot of questions surrounding the future of the team and the intentions of its owners, so it’s easy to see why they’re trying to generate goodwill with fans.

Naturally, the best way to fill seats is to do something that’s been easier said than done for the Cats: win games.

Get your odds to make the playoffs for all 30 NHL teams


Per online sportsbook Bovada, here are the odds to make (and miss) the playoffs for all 30 NHL teams, from most likely to make to least likely:

Chicago Blackhawks
Yes -1100    (1/11)
No +625     (4/25)

Boston Bruins
Yes -1000    (1/10)
No +600     (6/1)

Pittsburgh Penguins
Yes -850     (2/17)
No +525     (21/4)

Anaheim Ducks
Yes -800     (1/8)
No +500     (5/1)

Los Angeles Kings
Yes -800     (1/8)
No +500     (5/1)

St Louis Blues
Yes -800     (1/8)
No +500     (5/1)

San Jose Sharks
Yes -300     (1/3)
No +240     (12/5)

Tampa Bay Lightning
Yes -300     (1/3)
No +240     (12/5)

Minnesota Wild
Yes -280     (5/14)
No +220     (11/5)

New York Rangers
Yes -280     (4/15)
No +220     (11/5)

Montreal Canadiens
Yes -250     (2/5)
No +200     (2/1)

Detroit Red Wings
Yes -200     (1/2)
No +160     (8/5)

Colorado Avalanche
Yes -160     (5/8)
No +130     (13/10)

Dallas Stars
Yes -150     (2/3)
No +120     (6/5)

Philadelphia Flyers
Yes -150     (2/3)
No +120     (6/5)

Columbus Blue Jackets
Yes -140     (5/7)
No +110     (11/10)

Washington Capitals
Yes -130      (10/13)
No EVEN   (1/1)

New York Islanders
Yes EVEN   (1/1)
No -130      (10/13)

Toronto Maple Leafs
Yes EVEN   (1/1)
No -130      (10/13

New Jersey Devils
Yes +110     (11/10)
No -140     (5/7)

Vancouver Canucks
Yes +120     (6/5)
No -150     (2/3)

Edmonton Oilers 
Yes +180     (9/5)
No -220     (5/11)

Carolina Hurricanes
Yes +200     (2/1)
No -240     (5/12)

Ottawa Senators
Yes +200     (2/1)
No  -240     (5/12)

Nashville Predators
Yes +250     (5/2)
No -325     (4/13)

Winnipeg Jets
Yes +250     (5/2)
No -325     (4/13)

Arizona Coyotes
Yes +275     (11/4)
No  -350     (2/7)

Florida Panthers
Yes +275     (11/4)
No -350     (2/7)

Calgary Flames
Yes +300     (3/1)
No -400     (1/4)

Buffalo Sabres
Yes +400     (4/1)
No -600     (1/6)

Can’t say that any of the odds jumped off the page for me. But if I absolutely had to pick one long shot for “missing” and one for “making,” I’d probably go with…

— Anaheim to miss the playoffs at +500. I know all the things the Ducks have going for them. They were already loaded up front, and now they’ve got Ryan Kesler. They probably won’t miss the playoffs, OK? Still, this is all about the odds, and that’s a pretty big number for a team with a good-but-not-great blue line and so much inexperience between the pipes, and also one that has to compete in a very tough Western Conference.

— Florida to make the playoffs at +275. I’d like this number to be a bit higher, but I think the Panthers have a reasonable chance of cracking the top eight in the East. There’s a ton of potential in that lineup, and Roberto Luongo should bring some stability in the goaltending department, which is something that’s been sorely lacking the past couple of seasons.

Habs’ Price expects to be 100 percent to start 2014-15

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As valiant as Dustin Tokarski’s efforts were against the New York Rangers, the Montreal Canadiens still faced the stark reality of life without Carey Price during the 2014 postseason. Considering the fact that his knee issues kept him from skating for most of the summer, it’s fantastic news that the goalie believes he’ll be good to go, as TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports:

That’s definitely what the Habs want to hear, yet they might want to be cautious with Price during training camp and the preseason.

Beyond keeping the 27-year-old’s health in mind, they could also get an extended glance at Peter Budaj (still under contract at $1.4 million) and Tokarski (who possesses a club-friendly deal that goes from two-way in 2014-15 to one-way in 2015-16).

While Budaj, 31, didn’t exactly get the vote of confidence by sitting after Price was injured, there’s still some question regarding whether or not Tokarski’s style can hold up to extended scrutiny at the NHL level. The 24-year-old made some dazzling saves against the Rangers, yet his aggressiveness also opens the door to goals that might not happen with more cookie cutter techniques (see: Roberto Luongo’s memorable original criticisms of Tim Thomas).

There’s no such doubt about Price’s viability, of course. He’s coming off a brilliant season in which he won a gold medal with Team Canada and generated a career-best .927 save percentage alongside a great 34-20-5 record.

Markstrom remains confident he can play with Canucks


Goaltender Jacob Markstrom barely got any playing time with Vancouver behind Eddie Lack after being acquired in the Roberto Luongo trade in March. His situation only got worse after the Canucks signed Ryan Miller this summer, but Markstrom is doing everything he can to stay positive.

“Obviously, I wanted to play,” Markstrom told the Vancouver Province. “But if you put your energy on ‘Why am I not playing? Why is this happening?’, it’s not going to make you a better goalie.”

Markstrom felt the off-ice work he did during his tenure with Vancouver in 2013-14 was beneficial and he added that he wouldn’t have made the journey from his native Sweden if he felt that he didn’t have a shot with the Canucks this season.

“Goalies are a special position,” Markstrom said. “There is only one No. 1 spot on every team and there are only 30 teams.

“How many goalies want to be starters? There will always be two or three goalies knocking on the door for most teams.

“They want to take your job. That’s how it is.”

Markstrom will work to stay in the competition in Vancouver. If he doesn’t beat Lack in the battle for the backup job, the Canucks will either have to trade him, expose his contract to waivers, or keep Markstrom on the roster as a third goaltender. He has a season left on his two-year, $2.4 million contract and the 24-year-old will be a restricted free agent next summer.


Don’t like the Ryan Miller signing, Canucks fans? Consider the 2011-12 Leafs

Fanspeak: Martin Brodeur named greatest Devil in franchise history


This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

New Jersey Devils

1. Martin Brodeur (1864)

2. Scott Stevens (653)

3. Patrik Elias (347)

4. Scott Niedermayer (229)

5. Ken Daneyko (106)

Martin Brodeur’s days with the New Jersey Devils are done after two staggering decades of work, but it’s unlikely his name will be wiped away from franchise (or NHL) record books anytime soon. If ever.

Seriously, it’s difficult to imagine any active goalie coming within a breath of Brodeur’s astonishing numbers. Brodeur’s 688 wins tower over Patrick Roy’s 551 and Ed Belfour comes in third with 484 victories. Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist could make their way up historic rankings if health permits, but catching Brodeur seems unthinkable. With little surprise, Brodeur also holds the saves (28,776) and shutout (124) records by healthy margins.

Really, though, it’s not just about the records; it’s plausible that he represents the end of the true “workhorse” goalie in the NHL. Brodeur played 70+ games a ridiculous 12 times in his NHL career; no one managed that many reps since Pekka Rinne, Jonas Hiller and Miikka Kirpusoff crossed the 70-game barrier back in 2011-12. Considering the regular upheaval in the goaltending position, being relevant for two decades is quite remarkable.

(Naturally, he was more than “just there” with four Vezina nods, too.)

With all due respect to truly fantastic players like Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer along with shrewd, long-time GM Lou Lamoriello, Brodeur is the person most people think of when they hear “New Jersey Devils.”