As players continue to vote on the NHL’s Return to Play plan, the big news off the ice comes out of Newark as former Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff has been named the new coach of the New Jersey Devils.
Tom Fitzgerald has been given the GM job full-time after serving in an interim capacity.
Both Fitzgerald and Lindy Ruff know each other quite well from their days in Miami.
Yes, it is that Fitzgerald.
One of the original Panthers, Fitzgerald played for the Panthers from 1993-98 while Ruff was an assistant coach.
Lindy Ruff had been an assistant coach with the Rangers but will be replaced by — more Panthers ties! — former Florida defenseman and assistant coach Gord Murphy.
Like Fitzgerald, Murphy was part of the early Panthers and played under Ruff.
No word on where Doug MacLean fits into this whole thing.
On Wednesday, the Panthers announced Chris Pronger — the team’s Sr. VP for Hockey Operations — was going to be leaving the team after three years to focus his attention full-time to a new family business.
Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, who has been close to Pronger for years, spoke with him soon after the news broke.
Definitely some interesting stuff here.
The thing that stood out to me was Pronger, in talking about the current makeup of the Panthers, said there just isn’t enough pressure (either internally or externally) put on the players to succeed.
“I think the pressures of playing in Florida need to be a little greater because you need to hold players accountable,’’ Pronger told Rutherford.
“You need to hold yourselves accountable, and it starts from management to ownership to fans.”
If you have a sub to The Athletic, it is worth checking out.
— George hits the airwaves to talk about the Florida Panthers on HockeyCentral on Toronto’s SportsNet 590 The Fan with former Cats forward Anthony Stewart.
— This morning, your friends at Florida Hockey Now wrote about Sasha Barkov’s excitement at getting back at it with the Panthers.
— Speaking of the NHL’s Return to Play getting ironed out, our pal Frank Saravalli from TSN dropped a bunch of dates on us that we can all look forward to.
As Frank notes numerous times, these are subject to change.
Of course they are.
— Craig Morgan, who like myself was laid off by The Athletic in June and started his own site, is the man when it comes to Coyotes stuff.
On his new site — azcoyotesinsider.substack.com — he wrote about the Arizona goaltending situation heading into the next phase of things.
— The Score breaks down the potential roster for Finland at the 2022 Olympics. A certain captain from the Florida Panthers is front and ‘center.’
SOUTH FLORIDA REPORT
Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald was the lone local beat writer onsite at Disney last night when the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (or whatever their name is) got back on the field as the MLS returned to action.
Watched a little of the game. Tough loss. Inter Miami CF remains winless in its expansion season after giving up the game-winner in extra time.
Soccer fans, was that close to being an accurate description?
— Staying with Ma Herald, Jordan McPherson has been hanging out at Marlins Park and says the relievers look pretty, pretty good so far.
— In today’s Sun-Sentinel, Ira Winderman talks about the Miami Heat’s plan in Orlando and how Pat Riley is staying behind.
— Need something to listen to?
In the latest edition of ‘Territory Talk,’ Brian Compton of NHL.com joins Jameson Olive and Doug Plagens to discuss the Panthers’ qualifier against the Islanders.
— You should also check out ‘Chirping the Cats’ as Billy Lindsay joins David Dwork.
WILD ‘THING’ CARD
Going back to The Athletic comes an ‘exclusive’ by the great Joe Posnanski in which he sets the record straight on one of the greatest seasons in Cleveland Indians history.
You know the one where their owner supposedly tried to sabotage things so she could drive attendance down low enough so she could move the team from Cleveland to Miami.
Rachel Phelps supposedly said Miami was offering a new stadium “62,000 capacity, 45 VIP boxes and for me, a mansion in Boca Raton.’’
Wonder where that stadium was going to be built?
Fun read if you are a fan of ‘Major League.’
And, aren’t we all?