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Bear Essentials On the Road: Sunrise, FL

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Bear Essentials On the Road: SUNRISE, FLORIDA (BANK ATLANTIC Center)

Today, the Bruins take on foe number one this trip -- the Florida Panthers. Following a nice night off, and team breakfast, Our Boys will hit the ice at the Bank Atlantic at 11:30 a.m. JB

Welcome to Sunrise!
Where are we going?
The official website of the city of Sunrise says, "The City of Sunrise, located in western Broward County, is home to more than 90,000 residents and host to several million national and international visitors each year. Situated in the heart of the tri-county region (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach), we're proud to be the gateway to a vast number of residential, business, entertainment and cultural opportunities - and the stage for spectacular, color-washed sunsets.
"Sunrise is the 21st largest of Florida's 400+ municipalities, as well as one of its most progressive. Yet it remains a friendly place where natural beauty is valued and lush landscaping is used to enhance neighborhoods, thoroughfares and public places. Sunrise also maintains its long-standing commitment to developing and maintaining itself as a sustainable community that preserves the past while planning for the future." 

Where are we playing?
The Bank Atlantic Center explains, "The search for a new arena began in 1993, when H.Wayne Huizenga obtained the new franchise for the Florida Panthers Hockey Team. The search process became a fast-track development strategy when the site in Sunrise, Florida was selected in June, 1996...Architects Ellerbe Becket were given the 26-month time frame. They had never designed a facility that had taken less than 31 months from start to finish. They accepted the challenge...More than 600 construction workers set masonry, erected drywall, ran plumbing lines, installed air conditioning and ran miles of conduit for the electrical systems. Nearly 500 workers installed 19,000 theater style cushioned seats, carpeting and tile...Seventy suites were completed with wet bars, closed circuited monitors and leather upholstery. Averaging over 650 square feet, the suites are the largest in the country for this type of facility."

Who are we playing?
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.
The Panthers have a pretty interesting history. According to wikipedia, Blockbuster Video magnate H. Wayne Huizenga was awarded an NHL franchise for his native Miami in 1992 and when the team first got off the ground, played at the Miami Arena. Is first major stars were former New York Rangers star John Vanbiesbrouck, Rob Niedermayer and Scott Mellanby. They had one of the most successful first seasons of any expansion team, finishing one point below .500 and narrowly missing out on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Perhaps their most exciting moment came in the 1996 playoffs, when as the number four seed in the East, the Panthers shocked the B's in five games, upset the top seeded Philadelphia Flyers in six, and then the second seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in seven to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Their opponents, the Colorado Avalanche, including their new goalie Patrick Roy, swept the Panthers in four games.

When are we playing?
7:30 p.m. ET. One half hour later than normal -- no biggie.

Who's playing for us?
The skate is at 11:30 a.m., check back in a few. Coach does have some decisions to make with both an extra forward and an extra d-man here in the hotel.

Is the game on?
Yes. NESN and WBZ will cover the game. So make sure to tune in to Dave, Bob, Brick, Rob and Jack!

9:21 a.m.
Still in the hotel, had $1 taken by the vending machine -- so I have my game face on already. Free coffee helps, though. Watched Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal on TNT last night, and boy, you couple that with a big meal, a new place and a strange bed and you end up with VERY little sleep. Ugh.

I suppose the whole ordeal makes me less than brilliant, as well.

Ran into Petteri Nokelainen in the halls and saw Big Z in the lobby, so everyone must be getting ready to leave soon. I think the bus is at 10:15. Obviously, I will have a bunch more news as the day develops.

Just got the game notes sent from Boston. Look for them in a couple of minutes, too!

3:10 p.m.
A very quiet Bank Atlantic Center.
Been away for a bit, had some lunch, got back and worked on a podcast for tomorrow. Rob Simpson, noting my like of palm trees, tried to grab one from the highway in order to decorate the Bish Cave.

I told him that I was not going to transport illicit palm trees from Florida, to the tri-state area and finally to New England. He demurred and we decided on having lunch.

Everyone (who is here) skated, although there remains the distinct possibility that Milan Lucic will be sitting next to me in the press box -- I wonder if he can type? As distressing as that possibility is, the fact that we should have Andrew Alberts back in the fold was an outstanding development.

Coach did not officially state who tonight's goaltender will be, but judging from Tim's lateness to the ice and earliness to get off (starter's habits) it should be the Tank.

The rest of the lines, lineups have to wait...

3:35 p.m.
I'll be giving my press conference here, later. JB
Only about four hours until the game and just about two hours until the bus back to the rink

By the way, took a look around the arena. Nice place. Hopefully it is hospitable to Our Boys tonight.

Denis Potvin paid a visit to the B's side of things and spoke with Cam Neely.

Potvin, a color commentator with Florida, stopped by to see Neely and gave a hearty "Congratulations," no doubt referencing Cam's having been named a Vice President of the Boston Bruins.

They adjourned to a separate row and talked for quite a while.

Potvin won four Stanley Cup championships with the New York Islanders in the early eighties and amassed a line of 310-742-1052. Cam's accomplishments in Boston are well known and his own totals of 395-299-694 are impressive as well -- especially considering he gave most of a limb to the Black & Gold.

Just think, that was 705 NHL goals in one spot. Too bad Johnny Bucyk was busy with his duties this morning -- his 556 goals would have been nice to add to the picture.

In case you aren't clear what Johnny's role with the club is, these days -- basically, he takes care of EVERYONE wearing Black & Gold. That goes from me all the way up top to Cam and Peter Chiarelli. And he does not miss a beat.

It's as good a time as any to say, "Thanks for everything, John."

6:10 p.m.
This is what I'm thinking...

Chara-Ward (sg) Thomas
Alberts-Wideman (bg) Rask
Stuart-Allen Go Bruins!

I will try and confirm when Our Boys hit the ice!

6:36 p.m.
Watching The Making of the Florida Panthers Ice Dancers Swimsuit Calendar: 2008 on the jumbotron. Ahem.
7:04 p.m.
The Bruins are on the ice for warmups -- Big Lu is NOT among them,  so the above lineup looks correct. Allen and Hunwick are both skating, but I am pretty sure we are going with three Eagles (Allen, Alberts and Kobasew) as opposed to two Wolverines (Hunwick, Ward).

7:28 p.m.
Ran into Billy Dailey from the Dropkick Murphys Crew -- excellent to see that Bruins fans travel so well. He was right behind the B's bench. Let's Go Murphys, Let's Go Murphys.

7:30 p.m.
Let's Go Bruins! See you in Tampa...
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