Panthers’ plane problems made for ‘one of the most unique’ days of Mitchell’s career


Tough end to an otherwise solid road trip for the Florida Panthers.

The Panthers, who won four of their first five on a six-game swing, got blasted 8-2 in the finale at Winnipeg, then spent a long (12 hour) Wednesday dealing with flight delays due to problems with the team’s charter, which was deemed unfit to fly.

From the Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Panthers captain Willie Mitchell said the trying day of travel was another form of adversity the improving Panthers must learn to cope with if they are to mature into a playoff team.

It added indignity to an 8-2 drubbing by the Jets the night before that put a sour end to the most productive extended trip the Panthers have ever had. They went 4-2 to earn eight of a possible 12 points on the 14,076-mile trek.

“It was a unique day, one of the most unique in my pro career,” said Mitchell, a 13-year NHL veteran who began his professional career in 1998-99.

Extra time to kill did provide the opportunity for players and coaches to catch up on email, phone calls and pay bills via mobile devices. The downside was that the replacement plane did not have the roominess and comforts that enable a road-weary team to rest and recuperate on the flight home.

“It’s tough to sleep on a regular plane. Guys were trying to lie down on seats, so you’ve got some sore necks and backs today,” Mitchell said after Thursday’s morning skate, adding, “It’s all part of the maturation process that you’ve got to handle adversity to be a winner.”

No word if Willie went with the cookies, or fiesta snack mix.

Related: Florida Panthers, deadline buyers?

PHT Morning Skate: Big Fish Bjugstad


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Should we call him “Big Fish” Nick Bjugstad? (Willie Mitchell’s Instagram)


Steve Dangle has an interesting take on the Maple Leafs firing Randy Carlyle, including a great dirty pants and shirt analogy (it will make sense when you see the video):

(via Sportsnet)

Numbers behind that failed situation. (QMI)

Russian defenseman Ziat Paigin threw his stick into the stands following his team’s loss to Canada in the gold-medal game of the 2015 WJC, but the good news is that it sounds like no one was hurt. (The Hockey News)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Kevin Connuaton had an amusing request from his former team, the Dallas Stars.

A review of the fourth episode of Epix’s Road to the Winter Classic. (Puck Daddy)

Pens, Panthers renew hostilities after Saturday’s feisty affair


Things got ugly during Pittsburgh’s 3-1 win over Florida on the weekend at Consol — the two teams combined for 76 penalty minutes — and that’s set the stage for tonight’s rematch in Sunrise.

“They started off pretty hard and were firing pucks and finishing every hit,” Sidney Crosby said of Florida’s spirited effort, per the Herald. “Both teams got into it pretty early.”

The ugliest incident of the game came late in the first period, when Willie Mitchell lost the plot during a scrap with Pens defenseman Kris Letang and hit Letang with his own helmet:

Surprisingly, Mitchell wasn’t ejected from the contest and, perhaps even more surprisingly, has yet to be disciplined by the NHL (no suspension nor fine to date.)

The Mitchell-Letang fracas wasn’t the only feud played out on Saturday, though. Jussi Jokinen got into it with Evgeni Malkin, and Dave Bolland got a pretty healthy slash in on Sidney Crosby.

“We’re lucky we get to play them again on Monday,” defenseman Erik Gudbranson told the Herald. “We have to find a way to win.”

Video: Willie Mitchell wields Letang’s helmet as a weapon


Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and Florida Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell sparred late in the first period of tonight’s game. As officials stepped in to try and break up the fight, Mitchell grabbed Letang’s helmet off the ice and attempted to hit the Penguins defenseman with it.

You can see that below:

That’s not the only incident in what’s turned into a heated game between these two squads. Sidney Crosby briefly left the contest after being slashed on the hand by Dave Bolland, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe.

Steve Downie was fuming in the first period and got vocal with the Panthers’ bench. He later fought Erik Gudbranson, which earned Downie a 10-minute misconduct.

Pittsburgh had a 2-1 lead through 40 minutes with all three goals coming in the first 7:31 minutes of the contest. In the 32:29 minutes that followed, the teams accumulated a collective 68 penalty minutes.

(Video) PHT Extra: What’s wrong with the Stanley Cup champs?


Is it a Stanley Cup hangover? Because the Kings played 26 playoff games last season, including three Game 7s.

Is it the loss of Willie Mitchell and Slava Voynov on the back end? Because those two were vital parts of last year’s championship team.

Is it a reluctance to play the physical brand of hockey that’s brought the Kings so much success? Because that’s not an easy way to play.

Is it bad luck? Because the Kings have badly outshot their opponents in three of their recent defeats.

Whatever it is, Los Angeles enters tonight’s home game against the Blues with five losses out of six and a rather modest 15-11-6 record.