Monday, November 28, 2016

YOU'RE FIRED !

I could list a bunch of reasons but I have to admit, I didn't see this coming.......


I'd rather be talking about last year's show at Stage AE in Pittsburgh where we celebrated  years of WXXP. Instead I now have to figure out what the heck happened and why. The Panthers have fired head coach Gerard Gallant and did so after last night's loss in Carolina.

To me it's clear this team is missing something. They are not intimidating and they lack that killer instinct needed in the NHL to win games. My guess is that management decided to address the issue of a crappy record now instead of later when it could be too late. I'm not sure I can point out exactly where the coach made mistakes......it's something off ice in my mind.

One thing is clear. The return to the playoffs last season was supposed to be followed by a deeper run, not a struggle just to get in and ownership has been quite vocal about their commitment to getting this team to a level where it can compete for a Cup. You are what your record says you are.....and last place speaks for itself.

Honestly, I'm not big on the GM also coaching. The interim coach isn't great either so I do expect a little time to pass before a new head coach is selected.

Strange days indeed.

----}- Bird

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

DAMN THOSE FLYERS

As I warned yesterday, if they get goaltending......


The Flyers played their famous intimidation game and the Panthers had no answer. If you want turkey, last night the Cats got flipped the bird. One of my concerns is that the Panthers don't intimidate and they don't impose their will physically. The return of Big Nick should help but not last night.

The 3-1 loss described here is nothing to panic over but it sure was disappointing.

Instead of breaking down the game or pointing out Panther deficiencies let's just do the holiday thing. Hopefully you are all going to spend time with family eating great food and discussing how stupid each of you are for voting the wrong way. Yes, politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table......I can't wait.

Thank God for beer.

All kidding aside, I do wish you and yours a peaceful and fun filled holiday. I am truly thankful for you, the readers and your support of this site.

----}- Bird

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

HOW DO I HATE THE FLYERS?

Let me count the ways.....


My earliest memories of NHL hockey include an extreme dislike for the Broad Street Bullies. After they came into the league the Flyers soon developed a style that would not only garner them the nickname bullies but it also won them a Cup. Stories of Dale Rolfe being beaten to a pulp, Dave Schultz pounded opposing players in fights and their captain, Bobby Clarke is the guy who broke the ankle of a Russian player with a two handed swing during the famous Summit Series between the Soviets and Canada. To this day I haven't shaken hands with Clarke.

One quick story on that......I have met Bobby several times. Once at MSG my buddy and I were hanging out with Rod Gilbert having drinks and cigars in between periods. As Gary and I hustled our way back to our seats we were headed up a flight of stairs. Coming down the stairs were Mr. Clarke and his posse which included Ron Hextall and Paul Holmgren. I guess no one was paying attention and Bobby and I nearly walked into each other. Immediately Hexy and Holmsy jump in front of Bobby as if this were happening on the ice during a game. There was a short stare down and I said, "Just like the old days Bobby, you still have others fighting your battles eh?" Hexy and I knew each other and we both smiled. Clarke said nothing and just stared at me. I winked at him and my buddy Gary and I laughed as we walked away. Classic Clarke.

So tonight the Panthers host the hated Flyers. They get some help as big Nick Bjugstad is back in the line up. This will be quite a positive for the Cats who can use his size and skill to continue their good play.

This years Flyer line up is nothing like the old days but they are still a team you don't turn your back on. They are a .500 team and lost their last game. Claude Giroux is a hell of a player and plays a bit like the former captain, Bobby Clarke. He's got some good players around him and if they can get decent goaltending, an issue for the Flyers for many years now.....they could be tough tonight.

Here's a good game preview.......get the beer cold for this one if you're not going to the BB&T center as this could be good TV.

If I don't see you guys, have a great Thanksgiving!

----}- Bird

Monday, November 21, 2016

THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS ARENA

Madison Square Garden is the place to play once you've made it.......


That's me in the home white jersey with my brothers......The Hansons!

When you get to the top of your craft, playing MSG is the icing on the cake. Ask any musician or athlete. So when I was asked to do a live audition for the public address announcer at the world's most famous arena I was tickled. Yes, I had seen some great shows there and attended some NHL milestone games but to get on that mic and hear my own voice on that sound system.....well it was awesome. No, I didn't get the gig. The guy who beat me out was fired after one night and Joe Tollison of WFAN took over and remains the PA guy to this day. Just imagine if they hired me. That would have changed everything and I bet I'd still be in NY.

I attended Mark Messier's last NHL game. I was in a luxury box to witness Wayne Gretzky score his final NHL goal. I was even lucky enough to see several playoff games at MSG. While it's true I've seen more games in Nassau than MSG (and hosted more concerts) there's no doubt that the place is a kind of holy spot. With that in mind, the Panthers ended their four game road trip at the World's Most Famous Arena with a shoot out win over the first place New York Rangers.

The Cats came out a bit shaky and I kidded a buddy explaining that the Panthers weren't used to playing in front of that many people. That's a silly comment in that they had just played Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, three hockey meccas in their own right. It wasn't long before the Panthers settled down and played one hell of a road game.

Here's the photo gallery.

The Hockey Rodent asked why Reimer looked shaky......not sure what he meant as the keeper was a main reason the Cats hung around long enough to salvage the win. The game just as easily could have been a blow out in favor of the home team.

I had been complaining about the play of Keith Yandle and his poor play and of course, he opened the scoring for the Cats on the PP. See it for yourself.

On a sad note, in overtime which was very exciting, Rangers center Mika Zibanejad hit the boards awkwardly and it resulted in a broken leg. The kid is quite the story as he had been playing great and may be the only kid of Persian descent to play in the NHL. Let's hope he gets back to his form quickly.

I've noticed that the visitors to this site are not mostly Panther fans. Many seem to be the old Hockeybird readers who follow the Rangers. That's fine. If you remember, we had an Islander fan (Melvin) who did the news and had fans of most of the other NHL teams as regulars on our message boards. We are and have always been inclusive. That means if you love hockey you are welcome here no matter what team you root for. That brings me to another point. The old site had it's own server and message board. I am currently working on a project that may allow us to do that again. I'll keep you posted.

I could really use some help.....so if you want in, send me a note at Bird at hockeybird.com.

----}- Bird


Thursday, November 17, 2016

TAKING TIME OFF

Hello South Florida and everywhere else, I'm Bird and flat out exhausted......



Litterbox Cats says that the lack of a consistent winning streak is the reason that fans don't show up at the BB&T center for Panther games. While I agree that winning would help, I'm thinking there is way more to the attendance story than just the team record. Face it, this is not hockey country. Even the snowbirds that live here during the winter are spending their time doing things that are not hockey related. We have visitors and residents from real hockey towns. Detroit, Boston, Philly and Pittsburgh along with New York combine with many Canadians to form a strange mix of potential hockey mecca......but it's just not happening yet.

I still blame part of it on radio stations like ESPN West Palm at 106.3. The big host, Evan Cohan is a self admitted hockey ignorant. In addition he doesn't just ignore the sport, he mocks it. Few on the staff have a clue about the game so the small amount of commentary is lame, to be kind. The AM station that broadcasts the Cats is hard to tune in here in Palm Beach county so I can't comment on the coverage or the daytime talk.

Look, in NY WFAN reluctantly covered the Rangers back when they started but the loyal Ranger, Islander & Devils fans still called in. The overnight guy, Steve Summers capitalized on this by talking puck a lot. Even Mike & The Mad Dog (Evan's heros) had no choice but to talk about the game. Pete from Uniondale, a caller who was often featured was in fact Pete Laviolette the head coach of the Islanders. After the 1994 Cup win by the Rangers the station improved on the coverage but they never really wanted to. Ratings was always used as an excuse and since I worked in radio it's hard for me to argue. However, it's a choice......and here in Florida the media chooses to ignore the game. Perhaps only a Cup will turn the tide and that's one tall order. They did it in Tampa Bay, we can do it here.

The Cats are in Toronto tonight.

Panthers make a minor trade.

OK, I'm running on empty. My health just doesn't let me push as hard as I once could. I don't recover well and my pain levels are high. I know I need to take care of myself and smoking and drinking are not very healthy ways of getting better. I need some rest so I'm not playing golf this weekend and I'm just going to lay on the couch. This means I may not be posting for a few days. Don't worry.....I'll be back and hopefully with some energy.

----}- Bird