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Oct. 15, 2008
Here we are, coming to you live from BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. The Panthers are currently on the ice practicing, and we’ll take the ice at 1 p.m. sharp.
Last night’s travel was very uneventful, which was fun. We left the arena just before 10 p.m. and we were up in the air before 11. Our food choices were a strip steak or spaghetti and meatballs. I watched some House M.D. on my laptop and, just as I was to the point where I was about to fall asleep, it was time to land.
Cookie, our flight attendant for the first two legs of this trip, is good about coming over and telling me when the buses arrive at the airport. Which is nice because that’s one less thing I worry about. I confirm buses earlier in the day before we arrive, but there’s always that nagging feeling something could go wrong.
We made about a 20-minute drive from the Fort Lauderdale airport to our hotel in Sunrise, arrivin at about 1 a.m., and there was an autograph seeker there. At 1 a.m.! I met Linda, our hotel contact, and headed upstairs to unwind for a bit. This is a nice hotel – nothing too extravagant – but the customer service is outstanding, and there’s always a little goody bag for the P.R. guy, which is always welcomed.
This morning, I headed downstairs about 11 a.m. and I was welcomed by Gwyn, our other hotel contact. She showed me where the meal room was, and explained that their shuttle is at our disposal, particularly to a 370-store shopping plaza down the street. Also tomorrow, the players can use the shuttle to go to the rink for the game if they don’t want to wait for the bus. They will actually have two shuttles – one will stop at Starbucks on the way over.
I also ran into Fox Sports North’s Kevin Gorg downstairs. He was returning from a run to the arena and back. And it’s hot out, I may add. Gorg had a bit of a fan club behind the Wild bench yesterday, including someone related to some kids he used to coach in volleyball. We also met a fan (I wish I’d have gotten his name) who drove 1,200 miles from Minnesota to watch the game last night. Kevin asked him if he was continuing on to Florida, but he said, “No, we did that trip last year.” At one point during warm-ups, I swear there were more people wearing Wild garb than Thrashers stuff.
We’re awaiting the arrival of Cal Clutterbuck
from Houston. Because Pierre-Marc Bouchard
is back home in Minnesota with a sore back and Owen Nolan left last night’s game with a lower body injury, Clutterbuck was summoned. We got the word late last night, confirmed it this morning and sent out this press release
In cases like this, I get extra per diem to hand out. It takes some creative mathematics, as players earned four days of per diem for this trip (they only get half a day on gamedays due to the team meal) and Clutterbuck is owed three days. But with Shep Harder from hockey operations as my trusty guide, I worked it out.
I’m going to head out in the arena bowl in hopes of finding a wireless signal. My wireless card doesn’t work down here by the locker room, and I can’t connect to the arena wireless, either.
I’ll check in with a quick post-practice update early this afternoon.4:30 p.m.
Just back from a late lunch (or is it early dinner) ...
Pretty non-eventful practice. Clutterbuck arrived about 15 minutes before the start - he was waiting for his sticks at the airport. My last conversation with the luggage folks said the sticks will arrive at 5:30 p.m. and will be sent directly to our hotel. The sticks were apparently stuck on a conveyor belt in Houston.
Both writers talked to Tomas Mojzis about his time in Russia in the wake of the Alex Cherapanov death. And the Panthers website conducted a short interview with Wild leading scorer Antti Miettinen.
I'm going to head over to the outlets soon, and I have some awesome blog e-mails today. I'll try to get them all in the gameday blog Thursday.