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The Hockey News

• George Richards of the Miami Herald is, in my opinion, one of the best beat writers covering NHL hockey today. I just wish the guy had a good team to cover one of these years, so he doesn’t have to write things like this more often than his colleagues.

Unfortunately, Richards is stuck watching the Florida Panthers do what they always seem to do in the first half of the season: bury themselves with so many losses, not even their now-regular, near-Herculean late-season surge can save their playoff chances.

Only this season – when they’re already dead last in the Southeast division, one point out of last overall and coming off a six-game losing skid – it seems worse than ever.

Their 30th-ranked power play, humming along at a blistering 11.1 percent efficiency rate, is pitiful in a way that would put the post-Jerry Maguire career of Cuba Gooding Jr. to shame.

Perhaps the ugliest stat of all – other than the franchise laying off 10 of its employees, I mean – is this: the Panthers have the worst record of any team that has yet to earn a point when trailing after two periods (0-7-0).

To me, that illustrates perfectly the lack of urgency and confidence responsible for their problems. And that is an indictment of a core of young players who have been continually counted on to step up yet perpetually let Florida’s remaining fans down.

If this team were a dog in the pre-P.E.T.A. days, it would have an appointment with the back of a barn and an Old Yeller ending.

Should the roster be blown up, Richards asks? And how, I say.

• Though it makes me sound like a bit like a pirate, a hearty welcome – and congratulations – goes to new THN copy editor John Grigg, who set’s unofficial record for most inappropriate comment posts with his first blog entry last week.

Give John credit for not shying away from controversy; he willingly waved a red flag in front of a rather sensitive group of bulls raised at the Montreal Canadiens Devotees Ranch – and predictably, numerous aspersions were cast on his cranial capacity and choices his parents made in their youth.

But that’s the kind of Brass Ones I like to see on a writer. If you’re in the columnizing business to equivocate, you made the wrong career choice.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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