Tag:Sean Bergenheim
Posted on: December 28, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 2:47 pm
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Report: Injury-ravaged Panthers to sign Madden

By Brian Stubits

The Florida Panthers are in a world of hurt right now. As in literal hurt.

The surprising Southeast Division leaders are still holding onto a somewhat comfortable lead over the Winnipeg Jets in the division, but they are missing a lot of players. As in seven forwards, all due to some form of injury.

That has general manager Dale Tallon on the verge of signing veteran free agent John Madden. That's according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Hearing John Madden signs with @FlaPanthers tomorrow."

Madden played most recently for the Minnesota Wild and Russo used to be the beat writer for the Panthers, so he can have a rumor like that covered from both sides.

Then current Panthers beat writer George Richards of the Miami Herald tweeted that the timeline perhaps has been quickened. "Word in the #FlaPanthers locker room is John Madden has been signed and is excited to join the Cats."

Richards added that the deal isn't likely to be announced quite yet. "#FlaPanthers say no announcement on John Madden forthcoming; coach Kevin Dineen left practice early" followed by Tallon saying it isn't done quite yet.

“We don't know how long that's going to take [to get rust off] and when we're getting some other guys back," Tallon said Wednesday.

Either way, there's a lot of smoke, so the fire seems to be close behind.

Like a good chunk of the Panthers roster this season, Tallon has some familiarity with Madden, who was part of the Stanley Cup champion in Chicago that Tallon helped build. He is a tough-nosed center that likely still has some gas left in the tank. He scored 12 goals last season for the Wild.

He would also bring along the intangibles that come with being a veteran and a multiple-times champion in the NHL. In addition to winning the Blackhawks he also lifted the Stanley Cup twice while a member of the New Jersey Devils.

But more importantly, he helps the Panthers get through their injury woes at the moment. As mentioned, seven players are currently sidelined, all of them forwards. Stephen Weiss and Mikael Samuelsson could return soon but it doesn't look as good for Jack Skille, Sean Bergenheim, Marco Sturm, Marcel Goc or Scottie Upshall.

I think it is a solid addition for the Panthers even without those intangibles. He's 38 but he can likely still lead a third or fourth line when the injured Panthers get healthy. Coach Kevin Dineen has been clear that he really likes to be able to run all four lines.

What's more, Madden has long been very good on the penalty kill, a department the Panthers could use some improvement. Their 80.2 percent kill rate ranks 24th in the league.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Kings' Mike Richards cleared after concussion

By Brian Stubits

Los Angeles Kings forward Mike Richards has been cleared to play after sustaining a concussion in a game on Dec. 1 against the Florida Panthers. Rich Hammonds at L.A. Kings Insider says it's likely Richards will be in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Richards' clearance comes at just the right time as the Kings are beginning the Darryl Sutter era in earnest. The hope is the change in coaches will help spark a reeling team to perform up to expectations. Obviously getting Richards back will help as much as the coaching change.

Richards was injured on a check from Sean Bergenheim in the Kings' 2-1 win over the Panthers. The hit was reviewed by the NHL but it was deemed to be a shoulder-to-shoulder hit that had incidental contact to the head and Bergenheim was not punished.

Despite missing eight games, Richards is still second on the team in points, tied with Justin Williams at 20. Before suffering the concussion he was starting to look a little more settled and was performing at his best since the blockbuster trade over the summer sent him to L.A. from Philadelphia for a package that included Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. In the 11 games prior to the injury he had scored nine goals.

Obviously his return is huge for the Kings. We'll have to wait and see if he can return to the level he was playing at before the injury, it would certainly be welcome by the Kings. They are that bottom of the barrel when it comes to goals per game in the NHL with just 2.12.

Plus, it's so refreshing to get some of the concussed star players off the bench and back into the games where we all enjoy seeing them.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 3:59 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 4:01 pm
 

The Panthers wish you Happy Holidays by singing

By Brian Stubits

The Florida Panthers have a lot of reason to be festive these days, what with being in first place and all, so they want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season.

OK, maybe not all the players want to do it, but they did any way with a stunning rendition of Jingle Bells.

Unfortunately, we can't embed the video for you to watch here, but click on this link to see the singing 'Cats, it's well worth it.

A good portion of the team is shown in the video singing the song to differing degrees of excitement. Without a doubt, the captain charisma award goes to Ed Jovanovski. You can tell the JovoCop has a real flare for the season, complete with fist pumps and excitedly rushing through the song faster than the music.

Having equally good times are Sean Bergenheim and Mike Weaver, who really has the laughing all the way part down pat. The spirit is strong in these ones.

On the other side of the spectrum you have Russian players Dmitry Kulikov and Evgeni Dadonov as well as Czechs Tomas Fleischmann and Tomas Kopecky coming across as unintentionally hilarious giving it the ol' college try.

Then there is Brian Campbell who, if I were to guess what he is thinking while singing this song, I'd say he's probably giving serious consideration to retiring at this point and forfeiting his massive salary so as to not sing.

Kudos to Jose Theodore for being what seems to be the only Panther to actually hit the right notes and keep the rhythm of the song. Honorable mention to Kris Versteeg for popping in at the end to try and steal the show with a little crooning of his own. He's already shown before he can do a little magic with the mic in his hand. Or damage, whichever word you want to use.

That's not the only Holiday greeting from the Panthers. While this one was not a work of the franchise but instead done by a fan, it's still entertaining nonetheless.

Happy Holidays to everyone.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 2, 2011 10:27 am
Edited on: December 2, 2011 4:46 pm
 

Kings' Richards goes on IR after questionable hit

By Brian Stubits

The Kings might have won the game over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, but they could have taken a couple of key losses, too.

First, defenseman Willie Mitchell left the game after one shift. Just 51 seconds of ice time and his night was done. The team didn't disclose anything about the injury after the game other than the fact that Mitchell had a lower-body injury. I think right now 85 percent of injuries in hockey are being disclosed either as upper-body or lower-body injuries.

However it was the injury to Mike Richards that has caught everybody's attention. People were wondering if it will catch Brendan Shanahan's eye, too. The answer is no. The league viewed the hit as a body check that just happened to have contact with the head.

Late in the second period, Richards was by the side boards in the same part of the ice as the Panthers' Sean Bergenheim and the puck. You can guess that the two made some contact. After the hit from Bergenheim, Richards seemed dazed for a moment before trying to chase down Bergenheim for the rest of his shift.

Richards received a double-minor (slashing then roughing) and Bergenheim took a minor (roughing). But Bergenheim was not penalized for the initial hit. Jarret Stoll also took a roughing minor and the Panthers had a four-minute power play, on which they didn't score.

But the biggest part was the fact that Richards didn't play after taking this double minor. When the third period began, he wasn't in the penalty box to serve the remainder of his penalty. Instead, he never returned to the bench. While the team wouldn't confirm, the L.A. Kings on-ice reporter on the TV broadcast said that he was being evaluated and sure made it sound like he was getting the mandatory quiet time after questionable hits.

"We haven't got a full report yet," coach Terry Murray said after the game. "The doctors and trainers are busy evaluating them, and they'll probably let me know a little bit more before I get away tonight. We'll have a better idea tomorrow."

Now it's tomorrow and here comes the part where Kings fans hold their breath. Richards will be placed on injury reserve, meaning he will be out for a minimum of a week. Mitchell won't go on IR, but he is expected to be out for a couple games, too.

So the question is ... dirty hit? The hit sure didn't seem like it in real time. There was nothing that really stuck out about the hit until you see the replay. Bergenheim did hit Richards on the chin with his shoulder, but it's tough for me to argue that was the intent or that it was even principle point of contact. The hit went through Richards' arm and Richards seems to be leaning forward a little at the time of impact making what seemed like a shoulder-to-shoulder hit turn into shoulder-to-chin. Bergenheim certainly didn't see anything wrong.

“It was almost like having the dirtiest hit on Wayne Gretzky," Bergenheim told Harvey Filakov of the Sun-Sentinel. “Keep your head up. He’s a physical player himself and has done some fairly dirty stuff. Actually the Booth hit under today’s standard would probably be a pretty long suspension. It was a perfect hit right in the chest."

The Booth hit is in reference to the shot then-Flyers captain Richards laid on former Panthers forward David Booth that cost Booth a good amount of time. So while very, very few players remain from that Florida team three seasons ago -- pretty much only Stephen Weiss -- the fans at least saw it as some retribution.

Hopefully, Richards is OK and suffered more from a minor neck injury instead of a concussion. That's the first order of business.

The second order ... should Bergenheim have heard from Shanahan? I think I made my stance clear (if I didn't then my answer is clear here: No), what's your take?

More NHL Discipline News Here

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 12:11 pm
 

Step-back players: Can Columbus' Wiz keep it up?

By Brian Stubits

We see it over and over again in sports. Player has a career year, player gets a fat new contract with new team, said player fails to live up to the new deal.

After an offseason of numerous exorbitant contracts, this description will likely apply to plenty of players this upcoming year. That includes the guy who received the biggest bounty on the first day of free agency, James Wisniewski.

Signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets for a robust six-year, $33 million, Wisniewski is the second-highest paid player on an annual basis on a team that includes Rick Nash and Jeff Carter. That's a lot of coin for a player who has one season on his resume worthy of such. In his defense it was last season, so he picked a good time for his best season.

But surely you can see the red flags here. Wisniewski would appear to be a prime target for a step-back season. Now it's possible that last season was the Wiz actually stepping into his prime, after all he is 27 years old now, the magical age in all sports. But when a guy scores 21 more points in a season higher than his previous career high, it is only fair to wonder if it can be repeated. Such a jump indicates likelihood to regress to the mean a little bit.

Throw in the fact that Wisniewski is coming to a new environment, joining players he has never played with before and in an organization that has not had much success to talk about and you have the making for much quieter year.

What could help Wisniewski replicate his 51 points from a season ago with the Canadiens would be getting a lot of ice time, especially on the power play, with Rick Nash and Jeff Carter. Depending on how quickly they jell up front could impact Wisniewski's play and numbers. He'll certainly share the ice with the two high- scoring forwards a bit, but the more (probably) the better.

Now is as good a time as any to explain the rationale here, because it always gets misunderstood. This is no way to say that Wisniewski or any of the other players below will have bad years. That isn't the object one bit. It's simply players who might see a regression. Think of it this way: If a player is great and he regresses, he can still be very good. That fit Alexander Ovechkin last season, despite still being one of the best players in the league, it can't be argued he didn't have as strong a season last year. Now, on to the ...

Step-back candidates

Michael Grabner/Taylor Hall/Logan Couture/Jeff Skinner/Tyler Seguin/Brad Marchand: We're just throwing all of last season's top rookies into one category and labeling this one the "sophomore slump" group. Chances are one of them won't continue to blossom or match their rookie outputs. If I had to pick one, it would be Grabner of the Islanders.

Teemu Selanne, Ducks: The guy is a wonder, recording more than a point per game last season with the Ducks at 40 years old. But his offseason knee surgery and subsequent wait to see if he'd be ready to go (and advanced age) would seem to indicate a player who doesn't seem likely to keep up his pace. Just playing the odds on this one. Then again, we are talking about Selanne here.


Danny Briere, Flyers: Somebody is likely going to suffer a setback in Philadelphia with the absence of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, and Briere would be my best guess. He posted 34 goals and 34 assists last season, his highest point total in since 2007-08 and he's no spring chicken any more as he will turn 34 years old on the Flyers' opening day.


Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres: He is coming off a season where he posted 14 goals and 36 assists along with a plus-19. That in and of itself is tough to repeat. My colleague Adam Gretz wrote about the prospect of replacing Ehrhoff in Vancouver, noting that he was a bit protected. Now he will still be surrounded by a very good team in Buffalo, but it's looking like he will be paired with Jordan Leopold, the second defensive pairing behind Tyler Myers and Robyn Regehr. It's going to be very tough to replicate his excellent last two seasons.


Michal Neuvirth, Capitals: This is the gamble the Caps are taking by bringing in Tomas Vokoun. Neuvirth was very solid last season, posting a 27-12-4 record with a 2.45 GAA and .914 save percentage. They are risking him taking a step back in his growth as a player by relegating him to backup minutes, not to mention the possibility of a hit to the psyche of bringing in another goaltender and naming him the starter soon after the acquisition.


Sean Bergenheim, Panthers: He had the best season of his career with the Lightning a season ago, scoring 14 goals and 15 assists through 80 regular-season games. Where he drew plenty of attention for himself, though, was in the playoffs when he had nine goals for the Bolts. Coming up with the Islanders there had been plenty of hope and potential for Bergenheim, so perhaps he's just starting to break out. I'm expecting a point total in the low 20s, like his numbers in the days on the Island.


NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 29, 2011 12:58 pm
 

Rebuilding of the Panthers through Weiss' eyes

By Brian Stubits

They sound like the buzzwords of a political campaign.

Change.

Hope.

New direction.

The blue print.

These have nothing to do with dysfunctional Florida politics. They are the words and phrases mentioned in the state about its moribound hockey team, the Florida Panthers.

There is nobody who knows about the team's optimisim and defeat better than the current longest-tenured Panther, Stephen Weiss. He has been there through it all, never leaving the organization after it made him its top selection in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. After seeing unparralleled misery -- 10 straight years of missing the playoffs -- he says the vibe is starting to match the rhetoric.

"Personally I do [have a new-found excitement] just because I feel like I don't really know anybody any more," Weiss said. "So I'm kind of getting those butterflies as if I'm going to a new team, new scenario, new coaches again. That's always exciting."

Excitement that the Panthers are going the right direction? Imagine that. Buzz is what general manager Dale Tallon brought with him. It has been a long time coming in South Florida.

The Cats made the most noise on the first day of free agency. Florida went out and payed -- most say overpayed -- to completely overhaul their roster from just a few months before. The Panthers traded for veteran defenseman Brian Campbell and winger Kris Versteeg, then signed Ed Jovanovski, Scottie Upshall, Tomas Fleischmann, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim, Jose Theodore and Tomas Kopecky. Ever since, people have criticized Tallon for overspending, but the Panthers had a cap floor to reach, so they had little choice but to spend money.

It's hard to argue, however, that after the first few days of July, Florida isn't a better team than it was before. If nothing else, the Panthers grabbed attention across the NHL.

"Around the league I hope it has given us a little bit more respect, that we're starting to turn the corner and starting to put some things together," Weiss said.

Even while the Panthers were trending in South Florida, on one of the biggest days in franchise history, Weiss wasn't keeping close tabs. He was instead vacationing at his uncle's cottage an hour north of Toronto, cell phone off. Later that night, he turned his phone on and saw the stream of text messages from friends, letting him know what Tallon had been up to.

"I'm certainly super excited to get that many guys and that many quality guys, it's unbelievable," Weiss said. "It's going to help us a lot. Totally changed our team around and made us younger and faster and more skilled. It's something that has needed to be done for a while and it's pretty neat that Dale's been able to do it. I can't wait to get to camp.

"That's just the start of it. Now, you have to back it up and put it on the ice. That's up to the guys and I'm sure we're all excited to do that."

Weiss has seen his fair share of new teammates and coaches in his camp days. That will once again be the situation this year as the team breaks in new coach Kevin Dineen to go along with the new faces. Dineen's task in his first NHL job will be to mold the players together and quickly find some cohesion. It is one which harkens back to the team's days at the old Miami Arena, also their most successful period in franchise history. That's when they had to start from scratch, literally building the franchise from nothing. With such turnover, it feels like they are doing the same again.

Bringing in so many new players in one offseason will present a challenge. But how big? Some say huge. It's one of the criticisms that has been levied against Tallon's spending spree. And it is not as if he is bringing a bunch of fresh faces into an established old guard. As far as Panthers holdovers go, the only veterans to speak of are Weiss and David Booth. Nobody else has been with the team for more than three seasons.

Sure, guys like Jovanovski have been in Florida before as the Panthers made him the first overall pick in 1994, but not with this cast of characters.

So will it be an issue? Weiss' inclination is no.

"There's always -- especially now with the way things are run -- there's a lot of turnover on teams year-to-year and that can be an issue with every single team, chemistry and things like that can be an issue with new guys," Weiss said. "I guess more so for us because we have so many, but at this level I don't think that's as big of a deal."

It better not be if this is going to be the group of guys to end the NHL's standard for futility.

Let's not forget that Tallon's blue print includes building the team through the draft. The Panthers did not have the richest farm system in hockey despite their years of picking in the lottery, but that has changed under Tallon's watch. Soon Florida will be looking to bring aboard recent draft picks Jacob Markstrom, Erik Gudbranson, Quinton Howden and Jonathan Huberdeau, among others. That's the new guard, the future of Panthers hockey.

And that's something Stephen Weiss can relate to. He, too, was once the future of the Panthers. Now he's the present, trying to get things turned around. Still.

"I never really envisioned thinking it would take this long to get things turned around here, but it is what it is," Weiss said. "It's really kind of bugging me deep down we haven't been able to put it together and get it done. Seeing the success [former teammates Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg] had in Boston just kind of fuels you even more to get it done."

The closest the Panthers have come to competing for the Stanley Cup in the past 10 years was 2008-09, when they finished tied with the Montreal Canadiens in points and wins for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Florida, however, went 1-2-1 in the season series and lost out on the second tiebreaker, left tantalizingly close, but yet so far.

Having never appeared in an NHL playoff game, Weiss does not know the feeling of reaching the postseason, but he is aware of what it would mean to him after so many years of watching from home.

"It would mean the world to me, really," Weiss said. "I wanted to honor the contract that I signed there and I want to make it happen there.

"I have some pretty high expectations for this team this year. I think deep down this could be our year."

Finally, Weiss and the Panthers are seeing a light at the end the darkest tunnel in team history.

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 8:36 pm
 

Busy Panthers get Versteeg in trade, sign five

Dale Tallon has been one of the busiest men today, and now he's made another move. The Florida Panthers GM acquired Kris Versteeg from the Philadelphia Flyers for a pair of draft picks down the road.

There had been a lot of talk around the draft last week that the Panthers were trying to get Versteeg from the Flyers. Now, it actually goes through. You might remember that Versteeg played for Tallon while he was in Chicago, making it another former Blackhawk added to the Panthers roster, joining Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and Jack Skille in the past six months.

It stood to reason the Panthers would be busy considering they had to spend more than any team just to reach the salary cap minimum. In the past few weeks they've taken on the the nickname FLOOR-ida. They also made four moves on the free-agent market, signing Scottie Upshall, Jose Theodore, Ed Jovanovski and Marcel Goc to big deals within the first two hours of free agency beginning.

They topped it all off by later signing Tomas Fleischmann to a four-year, $18 million contract. Fleischmann has been battling a blood clot issue but is believed to be over it as long as he continues to take the prescribed medicine. His highest offensive output came two seasons ago with Washington when he scored 23 goals with 28 assists.

But that didn't end the day for the Panthers. Oh no, they still had one more move left in them. In the late evening, the Panthers announced the signing of Sean Bergenheim for four years at an average of $2.75 million. Bergenheim had a breakout performance when he scored nine goals in the playoffs for Tampa Bay, substantially increasing his asking price and the Lightning were no longer willing to meet it. The Panthers hope Bergenheim found himself in the playoffs and he can continue to play up to a level close to that.

Last season Versteeg had 21 goals and 25 assists.

For Philadelphia it adds to another busy day, something that has become the norm for GM Paul Holmgren of late. Earlier in the day he surprised the NHL by signing Jaromir Jagr to a one-year contract then added Maxime Talbot from the Penguins. After those moves he was approaching the salary ceiling, but by sending Versteeg to Florida he opens up just more than $3 million on the cap, according to capgeek.com.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

Click here for more free-agency updates.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com