Panthers assistant GM Randy Sexton reports that conversations between the team and No. 1 draft pick (14th overall) Dmitry Kulikov are “going well.” The big Russian defenseman and his agent are negotiating a contract buyout in Russia.
The 6-1 Kulikov, who played for Drummondville in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) last season, could be good enough to earn a roster spot with the Panthers this fall out of training camp. He was named Defenseman of the Year in the QMJHL in his rookie season and had 62 points (50 assists) in 57 games last season.
Sexton said the Panthers are “cautiously optimistic” that Kulikov will be at training camp.
FORMER PANTHER EAKINS TO COACH MARLIES
Dallas Eakins, a fan favorite during the Panthers early years due in part because of his Dade City birthplace, was named coach of the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Eakins played only a single game during the Panthers inaugural season in 1993-94 and only 17 the following year. After being traded to St. Louis in ’95, he returned to the Panthers in 1997-98 and played a career-high 23 games. In all, Eakins played for eight teams between 1992-2002. A former assistant coach for the Maple Leafs, he’ll now be in charge of developing their younger players.
Eakins never scored a goal in 120 NHL games. But he was a class act, a tough guy, and no one ever questioned his work ethic.
He was asked about former Panthers head coach Roger Nielson and his influence on him at the press conference introduction. One of the finest, most human beings you could ever meet, Eakins spoke highly of Nielson.
"Roger Nielson's probably the biggest influence in my life," said Eakins. "He was like a father to me.
"We would go have our go arounds about the way to play the game. We didn't quite see it eye to eye, the way he liked to play and the way I liked to see the game'd play, but the great thing that Roger taught me, it was the countless hours in his office and his house on the lake (Chemung Lake), the work ethic that goes into it.
"This isn't a job, it's a way of life and I saw how hard that man worked at his passion and I appreciated it. I saw how much he cared about his players. He was a great teacher, he was patient, and I hope that i can be half the coach that he was."
Video of the press conference, courtesy the Toronto Maple Leafs and LeafsTV
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“There is probably no worse major-league facility in North America than Nassau Coliseum.” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Leonard Cohen is making a rare appearance in Florida at the BankAtlantic Center in October. Come and listen why everyone from Bono to Nick Cave, from Dylan to the Pixies, breathes in what the 70-year-old has to say.
The situation in Phoenix continues to deteriorate. Bankrupt owner Jerry Moyes is being asked why he shouldn’t be held in contempt of court, potential owner Jerry Reinsdorf is said to be growing “very frustrated,” and Jim Balsillie’s bid of $212.5 million is being called the “highest and best” by Judge Redfield Baum. This after the NHL declared Balsillie lacking character and integrity. The hits keep coming.
Ville Peltonen is off to play in Belarus for Dynamo Minsk. Peltonen was a true professional and a guy who always made himself available through good and bad times. He played through a broken foot last season and let’s not forget him dropping the gloves during the opening faceoff against Lightning thug Evgeny Artyukhin. All the best to Ville.
Thousands rallied on Long Island in support of the Lighthouse Project, a $4 billion, 150-acre plan by Islanders owner Charles Wang that includes a new arena, housing, retail and athletic center. Support is clearly on Wang’s side.
Didn’t you like it when they played ‘Werewolves of London’ after a Coyotes goal?
Songs of the day: ‘A Girl Who Loves The Stooges’ and ‘Howard Hughes,’ by Terry Adams.