Sunday, July 30, 2006

Fantasy Football Time

Does anyone realize that the Detroit Tigers have won 70 games in a division that includes the defending Champs and the Twins who have won 95% of their games the past 2 months? Not to mention, its the same League that the Red Sox, Yankees, A's and Angels are in. Yet the Tigers are blowing everyone away.

In the NL, the Mets are soo far in front of everyone its sick. So as of right now it has to be the Mets and Tigers in the Worls Series, right?

Of course not, someone is going to get upset, its inevitable. All I'm praying is that the Twins come back and win the Wild Card, leaving the Yankees or Red Sox and the White Sox out of the playoffs. I'm of course still rooting for my pre-season pick to win the Series, the Angels. They are making the run I expected them to make and if the A's do trade Barry Zito, I think the door will open up for the Angels to win the division.

And as an Orioles fan, I pray the birds don't trade Tejada. Unless of course they can get a Barry Zito type player. The Orioles have plenty of offense, they have lost at least 3 or 4 times the past 10 days while scoring at least 6 runs in those loses. The O's need pitching. And a new owner, but thats a different story.


Ok, so it is fantasy football time again. My Pitt league from last year was awesome. We trash talked the WHOLE season. Luckily, I think we are all still friends, but this year I want to win real bad. Bragging rights on the line big time. My team was sooo bad last year that I started Brooks Bollinger for a week. Not the brightest move but I was out of ideas.

If anyone wants to join the league, I might have a few sports open. It depends on who plays from last year. IM Me and I'll let you know

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour

Sorry I haven't written in a while. Honestly, nothing really happened at the office until yesterday when EVERYTHING happened.

As Im sure all of you know by now we signed Eddie Belfour to come to South Florida. I got the announcement from the intern in our hockey ops department at about 2:30 yesterday. Our GM, head coach, Director of Hockey Ops and Belfour himself are all in Canada for different reasons, so therefore we did the whole Belfour thing via lots of phone calls.

(What I must add here is I grew up a Blackhawks fan for some odd reason and I always loved Belfour. You can say he was one of my heroes growing up. Now I work with him. How cool is that? I cant wait to meet him.)

Before a release was even written, we called all of our media outlets to let them know what was going on and to schedule a 5:30 conference call with our GM Mike Keenan. Then we wrote the release, then we got Keenan on the phone. Then we got Belfour on the phone. It was caos between 2:30-7:00 when I finally left the office. Belfour is a huge recognizable name, so of course everyone is eating this up. Tomorrow we have another Cats Cookout at the BankAtlantic Center and I expect TV crews to be coming out to get fan reaction to signing Belfour.

The reason some of our guys were not in the office was because Jay Bouwmeester took us to arbitration and that meeting Monday afternoon. We got the results today in which Bou was given 2 years at 4.5 mil. Now, I;m just waiting to hear what our front office wants to do. We can either sign him for one year at 2.1 mil or two years at 4.5 mil. If we take the one-year, that makes Bou an unrestricted Free Agent next summer. If we take the two-year deal, he is still Panther property after the contract expires. I expect us to take the 2-years, but you never know. That is tomorrow's agenda.

I'm now feverously working on our pre-season media guide. We are 6 weeks from the opening of camp, and it'll take a week to print, so I have 5 weeks left to put this thing together. What is slowing me down is all of our prospects. I have to find their stats and write bios for them. No one realizes this, but hockey minor leagues are actually more complicated than baseball's minor leagues. Plus, in the NHL, your players can play overseas, but still be your property. So I am going crazy trying to find these stats. But I'm getting it done.

For the actual media guide, I am trying to update each player's stats vs. every team individually. What makes this hard is having to add each team stats for each player. So multiply 30 NHL teams X approximately 25 players = 750 stat lines I must do. It's really simple, but really tedious. But again, I will get it done.

More to come later. When I get a chance, I will update you on the rest of my life. Now its bedtime because I am beat.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Summer Hockey Camps

This week I have been able to go to our summer camps at Incredible Ice (which is also our practice rink). Alex Auld, our new goalie, was there teaching goalie camp so I had to be there in case any reporters showed up, which a few of them did. There were awesome articles on Auld in the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post today. As a PR guy, articles like these are what make your day. They portray Auld as someone excited for the challenge of being the everyday starter for the Panthers. What made me even happier is that Auld listens to me when I tell him what I need. After spending 6 years working with unappreciative football and basketball players, it is a please to not have to babysit these guys. I tell them they need to do an interview and they come find me when they are finished in the locker room. That is wonderfully amazingly awesome.

Today I got word that we were close to signing a marquee free agent. I cant disclose the name yet because it hasnt happened yet, but check Friday's papers to see if we sign this guy tomorrow. But anywaz, I am prepared for it. I wrote the release and I am ready to get the interviews with our GM and the player. Stay tuned on this one......

I also began working on the game program today. We are going to make approximately 8 different programs during the course of the year. It's a little rough to have to make 41 differents programs so we decided just to split the home season up into 8th's. I need to come up with 8 feature stories that would be good to read so if anyone has any ideas, let me know. You are the audience I am trying to appease for this project.

Well, if we sign this F.A. tomorrow it should be an interesting day that I am looking forward to.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cats Cookout A Success

Thursday nights Cats Cookout was a tremendous success. We had nearly 2000 people there. To have that many people at an event in the offseason for the NHL in a warm climate in absolutely amazing. The three new guys were awesome as well. I personally started off the evening by being the guinny pig when the photographer was setting up his photo shoot. We did the shoot in the cooler underneath the arena because we wanted to guys to look tough, kind of like a hard nose team, etc. Bertuzzi, Allen and Auld were great when they got there and we got some great pictures for ads and the media guide.

Then we took the guys upstairs where they were introduced to their new fans and we split them up to sign autographs. I got to be in charge of the Bryan Allen autograph session. I basically made sure the line kept moving and no one asked him to do anything unresonable. It ent real well and after the autograph session, Todd Bertuzzi went to ice level and played a little street hockey with the kids in attendance.

Finally we took the guys to their new locker room and they had a media session there. I finally got to meet at of our beat writers as well as some local radio and TV guys. We got great coverage in the papers the next day which is a PR Guys biggest show of success. Now I can relax all weekend because free agency is all but over for us and I am focused squarely on the media guide now.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Schedule Release

Wow was today a busy today. We finally released the 2006-07 schedule today but not before a lot of drama. The NHL offices were announcing the schedule at 2:30 which meant we needed a press release by 2:35 to send out locally. And as you can imagine this press release is extremely important. It states our ticket packages, games we are pushing hard and other interesting tidbits on breaking down the schedule. We had to get the schedule approved by the COO and by Mike Keenan's assistant. We got it done but just in time. Check out for the new schedule.

Also today I interviewed Ville Peltonen. I called him in Finland and we talked for a good 30 minutes on him coming to Florida, his goals, his personal life, etc. I'm going to get started on that 700-word story tomorrow. I get to interview Todd Bertuzzi tomorrow and hopefully I can get a hold of Ruslan Salei and Ari Vallin as well, but they are overseas and very hard to contact.

Around 5:30 we got Bertuzzi on ESPN radio in West Palm Beach and we had a conference call with all our beat writers giving them an opportunity to talk to head coach Jaques Martin about the announcement of the schedule.

Tomorrow is a HUGE HUGE day. We have a photo shoot at 4:30 with Bryan Allen, Todd Bertuzzi and Alex Auld, our players from the Luongo trade. After that, we have the Cats Cookout at the BankAtlantic Center where we have 1000 reservations of potential season ticket holders. They will have the chance to meet Auld, Allen and Bertuzzi. After that, we are running a press conference for the media to talk with the three players. Should be a busy afternoon. Welcome to the life of a sports PR Guy.

Monday, July 10, 2006

First Full Week

As my first full week begins, I completed writting the press release that will announce our schedule for the 2006-07 season. I am pleased with myself because I had to come up with tricky little ways to describe some of our home games, and I am particuraly proud of what I called "Scare-dy Cats" because we play at home on Friday the 13th of October and also on Halloween. Ohh I am soooo good..........haha

But I also began furiously working on the pre-season Media Guide and the actual Media Guide for the season. I made a lot of progress updating all the information on the teams we play this year. Lots of coaches, GM's and even Owners changed this year. I also put in some player profiles of some of the new guys on our team, like Rusland Salei.

Sunday I went to a Cats House Party at one of our Season Ticket Holders houses. We had moon bounces, deck hockey, and some fun games and food. Mike Van Ryan was there signing autographs a few weeks before he is going to get married. I brought my mom, she enjoyed it and everyone seemed to have a good time.

I have to put this in too. Eight of us, baseball fans, in the office put $10 each in a pool and we each chose a player in tonight's Home Run Derby. I got the #2 pick and I chose David Ortiz. I think Ryan Howard will win, but how can anyone pass on the most clutch, prolific home run hitter (besides Pujols) in the Derby. So Let's Go Papi!!!

Lastly, I am very excited for the next 3 days. Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld, the 3 guys we got in the trade for Luongo, are coming to South Florida for the first time. They are going through sooo much in 3 days. We have photo shoots to go through because we need pictures of them in Panther jerseys. They are going to our Summer Camps to sign autographs and teach some things. They are also attending our Cats Cookout in the BankAtlantic Center Parking Lot. They are going to help cook burgers, take pictures, sign autographs and just be visible so people down here can finally meet them.

And most importantly, I am sitting down with Todd Bertuzzi Thursday afternoon for a 1on1 interview before the media get a hold of him, so I can write a nice Q&A story on Todd. I'm very excited for that.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Media Guide

So my first week, even though it was 3 days, is now in the books with the Panthers. I got a lot of assignment today, FINALLY!!!

The first thing I am doing is one of the most important press releases all year. Most press releases take about 10 minutes for me to write, but this one will take a week. It is the release announcing our schedule for the upcoming season. It takes forever because the schedule is changed a bit other the course of the next week. For example, we had a game moved a few days because of a schedule conflict with what I assume to be a concert. But also, we need to break down the schedule on the release, announce meaningful games, like Todd Bertuzzi's return to Vancouver. Also it is our first chance to announce ticket packages. We have a ton of Saturday night home games so I'm sure our sales department will give me a Saturday ticket package to announce. Expect the announcement by the end of next week.

I also began working on our Pre-season Media Guide, not to be confused with the real Media Guide for the season. This guide is just an outlook at the players and the year to come. It's simple, but tedious work because it is a lot of updating stats. Adding this past season's total onto career numbers, adding them together, seeing what records where broken, etc. This isn't due for over a month now but I'm happy that I'm soo far into it already. Obviously, there will be players that we sign or potentially do not sign that will be added or subtracted before rookie camp begins Sept. 6.

Also, I got assigned 4 stories to write for our publications. One story is a Q&A with the newest star Panther Todd Burtuzzi. I'm very excited for this one because Todd will be the first player I get to sit down and get to know. I am either going to talk to him Tuesday or Thursday. He is coming to town this week along with the other ex-Canucks Bryan Allen and Alex Auld. The three will be attending a Panthers Summer Camp at Incredible Ice and participating in the Panthers Cook Out at the Bank Atlantic Center on Thursday. I of course will be there escort in some respects. But again, I'm very excited to speak with him. Today I did some background research so I have great questions to ask him.

The other three stories are on 3 other players that we signed this offseason. One is on Ruslav Salei, the defensemen we signed from Anaheim. The other 2 are a combined story as we signed two players from Finland, where our capitan Olli Yokinen is from. So I am going to write a story on both these new players and their Finnish connection.

I actually get tomorrow off, unless we sign someone which is unlikely. Sunday is another Cats BBQ so I will attend that but it shouldn't be anything too exstensive. I will chime in again next week!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Let the Job Begin

I began my job today with the Florida Panthers. After the whole morning was spent signing paperwork and getting my building ID, etc., I actually got to my new desk and began working.

5:00 today was the deadline for players to sign paperwork if they wanted to take us to Salary Arbitration. Seven players decided to do this. But I should explain that most of the time arbitration doesnt happen because a contract is agreed upon waaaaay before the arbitration were to take place. One of the guys who filed for arbitration was our stud young defensemen Jay Bouwmeester. So you can expect the papers tomorrow down here t be asking why we didn't sign him, but I'm not worried. We will get it done before July 15th I think.

We also signed two defensemen today. One who was already on our roster last year and the other was a player who we got from Vancouver in the Luongo-Bertuzzi trade, but we just had to agree to terms with him. I got to write the press release announcing that we signed both these players, or actually just agreed to terms with them to be specific.

So for one day of work, I learned a lot about free agency and salary arbitration. Tomorrow I am going to get started on this season's media guide. There is a ton of work to be done to put together a 300-page guide that must be soooo accurate that you can use it alllllll season long. I must have it done in about a month so I'm not too pressured right now to get it done, but I don't want to leave everything until the last minute.

Well, I'm beat from getting up at 6:30 this morning. My body has to get used to this early morning stuff again. I plan on keeping everyone posted on what a PR guy does for a pro team, so keep reading and post any questions you might have for me in the comments section.

Monday, July 03, 2006

ASG Snubs

The Florida Panthers finally signed the defensemen they so desperately needed. The Panthers got Ruslan Salei from the Anaheim Ducks. Salei is the big menacing defensemen the Panthers had wanted to team up with young sensation Jay Bouwmeester. Although it wasnt who the Panthers were looking for, it is still a strong move in free agency and they only had to spend $3 million a year as opposed to the 6 that Jovonovski got. That means there is $3 mill more to spend this year and that could come in a backup goalie or another forward if we trade Gary Roberts to Toronto. I like the signing becaue it shows the Panthers are doing two thing, 1. Being active and not sitting back, and 2. They will not overpay in a year where defensemen are getting ridiculous contract offers. Again, Salei is not Jovonovski, but he will help a defensive corps that needs to be more physical this year.

As for the MLB All-Star game, lets go over the selections for a moment. As if I didnt hate Ozzie Guillen already. Someone tell me how Curt Schilling is not a pitcher on this team. I understand if he isnt the starter because that I believe Ozzie has every right to reward his own player, Mark Burehle. However, Schilling has sick numbers this year and for that matter, so does Fransisco Liriano and he isnt on the team either. I believe it is time that the players vote for all All-Star reserves and that fans should be able to chose the AS Game starting pitcher.

My biggest problem with the AS Game is how every team must be included. Why is it called ALL-STAR game when people like Mark Redman make it just cause the Royals need someone. It should be called the Almost All-Star game. This is the reason Schill and Liriano are not on the team. Mark Redman's ERA is over 5 and his record is barely .500 (5-4). You call that all-star status? I don't. Why do all the teams need to be represented ayway. Do you think the Kansas City fans won't watch the ASG because no one from their team is represented. HELLS NO. They probably will watch this game because it will be a relief for them to watch good players for a change. This rule has got to be changed.

2 days until I'm officially a Florida Panther!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sports are 4th of July Weekend

Do you know how nice it is to live 2 miles from the beach? I just need some wingment o go with me now. Lots of beautiful girls at the beach today for the 4th of July weekend. I love Ft. Lauderdale beach. It's sooo much better then South Beach.

Anyway, lots of topics today starting with the World Cup. BRAZIL IS OUT. The one thing the French do right is play soccer. Brazil's last 2 World Cup losses (which spans 12 years) are both to France. And now if you ask me, France is the favorite to win. I love Portugal, but England practically gave them the game this morning and they do not belong in the semis. I see Italy and France going at it and Italy winning it all. What a story it will be if Italy, picked to finish third in their Group, and with the scnadals going on in that country, win the "Ugly" trophy as World Cup Champs.

Hockey free agency started 6 hours ago and already the movement is amazing. Zdeno Chara who is literally 10-feet tall and a defensement signed with Boston, the team who I so based just a few days ago. And right about Chara signed, the Bruins signed Marc Savard, a centerman to lead their offense. So basically the Bruins picked up their #1 Center and #1 Defensemen on Day 1 of free agency. I wonder who the big winners are? Amazing for a team that was in such dissary as of 48 hours ago.

Meanwhile, I can't believe the second best Free Agent player available, Ed Jovanovski signed already with Phoenix. Jovo was supposed to come play for my team, the Panthers because he is great friends with Todd Bertuzzi. On top of that, the Coyotes werent even on the radar. Wayne Gretzky just scored one of the biggest goals he even has scored by singing Jovo and with Chara already taken, the Panthers better be in trade talks to get Chris Pronger from Edmonton or else the Panthers might just end up the big losers this free agency period. On top of that, who people were saying the #3 defensemen out there was, Pavel Kubina signed with Toronto, leaving the Panthers in an even bigger hole. There is lots of time left before training camp begins in the NHL but the big winners in the beginning of free agency definately are Boston and Phoenix.

As for baseball, how about those Florida Marlins, in second place in the NL East. This team just shut down the hottest team in the AL last night, the Boston Red Sox. However, lets talk about trade rumors. I hear Miguel Tejada is really on the trade market. If the O's think the only way they can compete is to trade Tejada, let me ask them this............if trading your best players so MAYBE, and I emphasize MAYBE in 3 years the prosepects you get will pan out, then you have issues. In 3 years the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays will be stronger. You can not compete in the AL East with prospects. What the O's should be doing now is holding tight. Dont trade anyone and this offseason actually sign a damn pitcher, and not a Kris Benson type pitcher; a Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, Dontrelle Willis type pitcher. Rebuilding will get the O's nowhere and keep butts out of seats, as if that isnt already happening. If Tejada is traded, the O's can kiss the next 5 years goodbye.

For those of you interested, I posted my preseason MLB Picks on a sports betting website. Here is who I predicted just for the record. I have correctly picked at least one of the two postseason participants in 5 of the last 6 years with the exception being 2003 when I picked Cubs/Red Sox and both those teams finished one game away from the series. I got Houston right last year, Boston the year before. 2003 was a bust. 2002 I got San Fran. 2001 I predicted the entire series correct and # of games Yanks vs. Arizona. I'm serious, I picked that one in April, just ask my buddy MILO. And 2000, I got the Yankees in the series. This year Im happy to report Im very wrong with lots of picks. This makes me happy because I think parody is coming back to baseball. The Yanks will not make the playoffs this year which is good for baseball.

My picks from April 1, 2006----
East: Red Sox
Central: Cleveland (wow that looks bad now)
West: Anaheim (looks bad now but I think they can make a run)
W.C. : Oakland (if they win the west can I at least take credit for calling them a playoff team?)
East: Mets
Central: Cards
West: San Fran.
W.C. : Philly (horrible pick, I apologize)

Worls Series:
Anaheim vs. Mets
Anaheim in 6 as Champs (still holding my breathe for this one, but I think I can definately get the Mets in the Series this year.)

Last thing before I go. Andre Agassi will be missed at Wimbledon, and I pick him to make it to the semi-finals if not win the US Open and he will go out on top. The truest form of rivalry is Agassi/Sampress. No one will ever take that away. That was a friendly I wanna kick your ass rivalry. No fights, no curses, just the best tennis ever.