Panther Parkway: Happy Thanksgiving Edition

I promise to keep this brief, as most of you are preparing to be together with family and friends, and enjoy each others’ company, along with good food, and maybe a moment of reflection on things that bring you happiness.  A list of things that I am thankful for as they relate to this great sport that we write about here at Panther Parkway.

* First of all I’m thankful for the fantastic staff that we have here on this site.  Without everyone’s contribution, there’s no way we can be who we are.  And no way we could have grown this fast.

* I want to thank all our loyal and passionate followers on Twitter, and those of you who come here to read this site on a daily basis.  You people are one of the main reasons that we do this, and we appreciate all our support.

* I want to thank the NHL for having the Florida Panthers in South Florida.  Regardless of the wins and losses, I know I speak for much of the fan base when I say, we are glad that we can watch live hockey in the sunshine state.

* Aleksander Barkov.  It’s a great feeling to have such a young and promising player step right in at such a young age and play like he’s been here before.  Despite his accent, listening to him talk makes him that more loveable. (Right Paige?)

* Erik Gudbranson.  With a recent coaching change, it appears that you are now becoming the player the Panthers thought they were getting when they selected you in 2010.  I knew the talent was there all along. Hopefully you’ll be here for many, many years.

* That moment when a player skates down the wing, takes a blistering slap shot that whistles past a goaltenders glove.

* The national anthems.  When both of them are sung at a game, with the right atmosphere…… I get goosebumps.

* No lockout.  It’s a relief to know that we’ll have uninterrupted hockey for the balance of this decade.

* Jonathan Toews.  My favourite player.  The epitome of professionalism, leadership, and skill all rolled into one.  I love watching him play.

* 17 Seconds in June of 2013.  A night of euphoria, validating a teams’ existence as a true champion. Lets Go Hawks!

* People.  Everyone that I’ve met either in person, or via social media that loves the game of hockey as much as I do.  The conversations that we’ve shared make the days go by. 

* Media.  To the professionals not only locally, but league wide who cover the teams, and the sport itself, thank you all for your insight and words of wisdom.

* Finally, I would like to thank the Florida Panthers organization for giving me and my staff here the opportunity to have the access that we do.  There is no way for me to show the gratitude and the appreciation other than by saying thank you.  I know that sometimes we are a bit on the edge, but it’s only because we are a passionate group, and it’s our love of the game that gives us that energy to allow us to verbally describe our feelings.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. 

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Huberdeau’s Need For Speed at Miami Speedway (Video)

Back in October, reigning Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau took a trip to the Homestead-Miami Speedway track to have a little fun in a Shelby Cobra Mustang. And to our delight, the folks over at South Florida Ford recorded the Quebec native on his speedway adventures.

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Florida Panthers Announced Their First Player Cuts

Last week, the Florida Panthers began their training camp with a double header against the Nashville Predators in which they won both games, respectively. After heading to the Lone Star state earlier this week, the Panthers were held to just 3 goals in two games as they battled the Dallas Stars. With four pre-season games already in the books (2-1-1), and three games left to go, the Florida Panthers line-up is looking closer and closer to what we’ll see when the puck drops on Oct 3rd, in Dallas. The Florida Panthers announced this morning that they have made their first batch of cuts:

The following players have been loaned to their Minor League Affiliates, the San Antonio Rampage:

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Panther Parkway Celebrates Its One Year Anniversary

It’s hard to believe that just one year ago Panther Parkway was born.  I’ve made many decisions in my lifetime, some good, and some….. well…..not so good.  However the decision to leave the network that we were affiliated with for three years and start our own website, has turned out to be one of the best decisions that I could have made.  On September 7th of 2012, this story was published telling our loyal readers of the good news.  While The Rat Trick was where we started, leaving that site and starting Panther Parkway has turned out to be a bigger success than we originally thought.

We still have some work to do on the site itself, however I truly believe that we have established ourselves in the blogosphere as a premiere site for all your Florida Panthers information, as well as other stories of interest in and around the NHL.  As we approach the start of the regular season, we’re looking to make some cosmetic changes to the site which will include a new format, a new design, and some additional surprises along the way.  Our podcast, Panther Parkway Radio, hosted by Paige Lewis has received rave reviews, and we’ll continue to do those on a regular basis.  We also have plans to do some very unique “in game” and “post game” work for our home games this season.  We invite you to continue coming to our site on a daily basis.   In addition, please make sure that you continue following all of us on Twitter, and if you haven’t already, go and “like” our Facebook Fan Page!

Life has been significantly better for me at least since the move was made, and I want to personally thank all of our loyal fans that read and interact with us on a daily basis.  We appreciate your feedback, and really enjoy the conversations that we have.  I’ve made a number of friends the along the way, and while I also seem to have lost a few as well, I would like everyone to know that my passion for this sport runs very deep.  Don’t take anything that I say to heart.  It’s that passion that all of us here at Panther Parkway share, and is also what motivates us to do the work we do.

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NHL Announces Outdoor Game in Miami (Humor)

Marlins Park (Miami Marlins)

Marlins Park (Miami Marlins)

(Editors Note: This piece is meant to be taken as satire. All facts, quotes, and reports are fabricated. Enjoy!)

Earlier this year, the NHL announced that it would be adding five more outdoor games next season to accompany the already immensely popular Winter Classic. While games in New York and Chicago were welcome with open arms, the announcement that a game would be held in the warm climate of Los Angeles was met with some skepticism. Well, the skeptics are going to need to get their sunscreen ready as the NHL announced today that the league will also be adding one more outdoor game in the tropical hockey capital of the world - Miami, Florida.

But, before I discuss the details behind this exciting announcement, let me first take you back to where this all began.

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Panther Parkway Chosen to Represent the Florida Panthers in Puck Daddy’s “National Hockey League of Nations” Project

Yahoo's Puck Daddy Logo

Yahoo’s Puck Daddy Logo

A couple of weeks ago, Greg Wyshynski announced that he and the boys over at Yahoo’s very controversial and hilarious “Puck Daddy” would be creating an interactive summer project which would include the help of 30 chosen team writers/blogs from around the league. The project titled “National Hockey League of Nations”, which began on August 1st, was created in honor of the NHL and the IIHF finally deciding upon the inevitable, which would see the players of the NHL in attendance at the 2014 Winter Olympics games in Sochi, Russia.

Here is how the project works: Already starting with the Anaheim Ducks and continuing on in alphabetical order, Puck Daddy has chosen a blog from each NHL team, who were instructed to make a list of their teams best “all-time” players from around the world. For instance: If you are the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, or New York Rangers, it’s obvious that Wayne Gretzky is the greatest Canadian to ever be apart of your franchises, EVEN if he only played for the Blues for a short stint. Or if you’re the Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, or New Jersey Devils, it’s a no brainer that Jaromir Jagr is the greatest Czech born player to ever don these colors, (even if he was useless for the Stars, and hasn’t technically played a game for the Devils, yet).

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Happy Father’s Day With A Tribute To Mine.

I’d like to wish all the father’s a very Happy Father’s Day today.  If that’s you, stop reading this and go hug your child(ren) and tell them you love them.  If you aren’t a father but yours is still around, call him, go see him, and most of all, tell him you love him.  It may be your last chance, and it’s something you won’t regret.  Take it from someone who knows.

My father passed away at the tender age of 67.  Less than 24 hours after our last phone conversation which ended with me saying I love you.  Little did I know that would be the final time we spoke.  It’s been 20 years this past May that he’s been gone, and I miss him every day.  I will always remember the good times, and a few special moments that we shared together.

It’s those special moments that soften the anger that I feel when I think about his passing sometimes.  Anger from the standpoint that he was cheated in life from never being able to see two very beautiful grandchildren, my daughter, and my niece.  I’m confident though that my brother and I give our girls a glimpse of what our dad was like.

There were a few moments that always stick out in my mind that happened while growing up which I’ll never forget.

* He took me to my first hockey game at the old Chicago Stadium against my Mom’s wishes due to a blizzard like snowstorm.  Some guy with the nickname “The Golden Jet” scored a goal, the place went crazy, and I was hooked for life.

* He pulled me out of school (again against my Mom’s wishes) so that I could go to opening day with my older brother.  He wrote the note to my teacher which Mom refused to do.  It went something like this:  Dear Ms. Blake, Frank was taken out of class yesterday to attend a very important event.  Opening day at Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs.  Thanks for your understanding.  Yea, that was pretty cool.

* There was a walkout in 6th grade due to a rumor that gym class and other after school activities would be forever canceled.  Me and three of my friends decided to walk to downtown Chicago to join the protest.  I honestly don’t remember if one even took place.  We made it to the Lincoln Park area on Clark street which was about 5-7 miles from school, then turned around and walked home.  Mom was furious, Dad was calm and supportive.  I was exhausted. I came home safely, stood up for a cause, and gym class wasn’t cancelled.  Hooray! I had nothing to do with it…. however, Ms. Blake I’m sure began to wonder if I was going to be a rebel the rest of my life.

* We went to see the movie Bang The Drum Slowly.  A baseball movie about a catcher who had Parkinson’s disease.  It was one of Robert DeNiro’s first major roles.  The movie and storyline sad as it was, had me glued.  So much so that I wanted to stay and watch it again.  As the credits were rolling, my dad asked me, “wanna see it one more time”?  YES!  My dad went for more popcorn, which I’m sure I spilled, and we sat through it again.

* Finally, and this was a recurring event.  My love for cheeseburgers and fries are because of my dad.  On Saturday’s whether we were going to a Cubs game, or going to a movie or whatever else was happening on our day together, we’d always end up at the Hollywood Restaurant in Lincoln Square.  We each would order a cheeseburger with fries.  I had a coke, he had coffee.  Ava the waitress, always talked us into a piece of pie for desert as well.  Sometimes she just brought it over fresh out of the oven.

My dad is responsible for my love of sports, my stubborn ways, the little rebel in me, and for my quietly passionate behavior.  Ok, sometimes it’s not so quiet.  He taught me respect, to be myself, and to learn from mistakes while going after what you want in life.  He wasn’t always perfect, but then again no one is.

I would give anything for one more cheeseburger and piece of pie.

Happy Father’s Day.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: me @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Why The Colorado Avalanche Need To Select A Defenseman At The Draft

Photo Source: @MikeDarnay Seth Jones Photoshop

Photo Source: @MikeDarnay Seth Jones Photoshop

As fans eagerly await the arrival of the next generation of talented skaters at the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry draft, General Managers and scouts from the bottom 3 teams of the 2013 season are working overtime evaluating this year’s projected top 3 picks - D Seth Jones, C Nathan MacKinnon, and C/RW Jonathan Drouin. After finishing the regular season with the worst overall record in the NHL, the Florida Panthers bad luck continued as the Colorado Avalanche (who finished with the 2nd worst record) leap frogged them in the newly revamped NHL Draft Lottery.

After the dust had settled at the draft lottery, the top 3 picks went to the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lighting in that order. In other words, the collective destiny of both the Panthers and Lightning now rest in the hands of the Colorado Avalanche as their course of action with the first overall pick will surely shape how the rest of the first round plays out.

Luckily for both the Avalanche and the Panthers, the current players slated to go #1 and #2 in this year’s draft could both make an immediate impact on their respective clubs. Although, while each team could potentially grab a bona-fide NHL ready player, each team’s specific needs could play a huge role in their selections as both teams look to build a future Stanley Cup Contender.

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Funny Video of the Day: Goldie & Billy Discuss Slurpees, Winnie the Pooh, and More!

During Thursday night’s blowout loss against the Winnipeg Jets, Panthers’ fans that remained tuned in were treated to some hilarious commentary from the Panthers’ fantastic broadcast duo of Steve Goldstein and Bill Lindsay. With just over 8 minutes remaining in the 3rd period and the Panthers in a 7-2 hole, Billy and Goldie decided to delve into a wonderful list of Winnipeg facts in order to lighten an overall somber situation for Panthers’ fans. What followed was over 4 minutes of comical discussion about everything from Slurpees to Winnie the Pooh. Considering that losses have been plentiful for the Panthers this season, the hilarious commentary that we were treated to last night was a welcomed escape from the realities of a team headed for the draft lottery.

Check out the very enjoyable video below!

Thanks for reading and hopefully this video gave you a good laugh!

Follow All Panther Parkway writers on Twitter: Me @JamesonCoop, Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, Josh Luecht @eyesonsunrise, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530 and David Lasseter @davidlasseter. Visit our Facebook fan page here and give us a like and share anything you wish with us.

Trouba to the NHL, is Nick Bjugstad Next?

News broke on Tuesday evening that the Winnipeg Jets’ top defensive prospect Jacob Trouba would be leaving the University of Michigan to compete at the NHL level for the remainder of the 2013 season. With all but four collegiate teams already finished with their seasons, more top prospects like Trouba will be faced with the tough choice between staying in school, or moving on to the NHL. One prospect currently pondering this decision is none other than the Florida Panthers’ behemoth of a centerman, Nick Bjugstad.

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