Before we enter this week's adventure in cleavage and beer, a few words for the Florida Panthers: Get. Over. It. Roberto Luongo returned to South Florida for the first time since Mike Keenan traded him to Vancouver in 2006 and cemented the Panthers' permanent place on the NHL's potential relocation list. How was he greeted? With a promotion that handed flat-screen TVs to fans for every goal Luongo surrendered. The Panthers also cut his head out of all of their old pictures together, scratched up the mix CDs he gave them and ate a pint of Ben and Jerry's while reading some Chick-Lit - while remaining in complete denial that it's actually their own damn fault.
There are three reasons why anyone gave even the slightest shit about the Florida Panthers since they entered the League: The year they clutched-and-grabbed their way to the Stanley Cup Finals; the sweet, innocent rat that Scott Mellanby killed in the locker room; and Roberto Luongo, who appeared primed to be Marty Brodeur South in dominance between the pipes and longevity with one franchise. There are two reasons Luongo isn't still in South Florida: Mike Keenan and Jacques Martin, who dicked around with his contract negotiations and wouldn't meet the minimal demands the goalie made.And there's one way to describe the franchise's reception for Luongo's return: Embarrassing.
This is bush league stuff; a pathetic "I-don't-know-how-to-quit-you" confession that the franchise has nothing else going on after Luongo's departure, save for counting down the final days of Olli Jokinen's tenure. Incedently, Luongo lost the game, 4-3, giving Florida fans plenty of shiny new televisions to watch their DVD copies of "John Tucker Must Die" and have a good cry. Pussies.
The Brewmeister Ratings. Since pseudo-statistical and tedious analysis is the stuff of "power rankings," I describe the fortunes of four teams over the last week with a form of universal expression: In terms of beer. Welcome to The Brewmeister Ratings...
Winner No. 1: Dallas Stars. Wins over Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary have Dallas second in the West and suddenly in the Peter Forsberg Sweepstakes. The rest of the conference is hastily trying to figure out a way to hook up Jessica Simpson with Mike Ribeiro. The Beer They'd Be: A tall, cool glass of Lone Star served by our returning Brewmeister champion: the lovely Rachel Bilson of the upcoming Anakin Skywalker film, "Jumper."
Winner No. 2: New York Rangers. Since I am genetically incapable of praising the New York Rangers, I will simply say that they had victories over the Flyers, Devils and red-hot Habs in the last week. And that Ryan Hollweg was so stunned that Alexei Kovalev hit anything, let alone his face with an elbow, that he took his frustrations out with a horrendous hit from behind on Sergei Kostitsyn in Montreal in Sunday's 5-3 win. It was so premeditated, he deserves 10 games; he'll get two at the most because this is the NHL and Kostitsyn had the nerve to return to the game. The Beer They'd Be: A happy hour pint at a trendy Manhattan bar. So, in other words, one that only costs $15.
Loser No. 1: Columbus Blue Jackets. Three losses in a row to conference playoff rivals. The Ken Hitchcock binge eating watch is on. The Beer They'd Be: A Honey Brown Ale at an Ohio State bar that a disgruntled Michigan fan spiked with Drain-O.
Loser No. 2: New York Islanders. The Isles have lost four in a row, and are sputtering along as the rest of the division wins. And remember, kids: Chris Simon might be a sociopath on the ice, but he's a teddy bear with the kids. The Beer They'd Be: A can of Coors Light my buddy yakked in after watching the Super Bowl commercial where the chick's heart bursts out of her chest and quits their job. What the fuck was that about? The only thing more disgusting than that commercial was Belichick refusing to come back on the field.
* Ray Emery gets into another skirmish during practice for Ottawa, but Senators players snort at the idea that Rayzor's not their guy. [Globe & Mail]
* The Top 10 Hottest Hockey Wives or Girlfriends, complete with handy appendix gallery. Not a gallery of their appendixes, but...well, you get the point. [The FanHouse]
* MYFO presents Mats Sundin on "Deal or No Deal." I'm all for more NHL crossover on NBC shows. Seriously, a showdown between The Wolf and Derek Boogaard on "American Gladiators" might do better numbers than the Stanley Cup Finals. Then again, so does The Weather Channel. [MYFO]
* Can the Red Wings win 63 games? Does Chris Chelios shit in the woods? [Red Wings Corner]
* As we prepare for tonight's edition of the Battle of Alberta, here's what the new ownership in Edmonton might do to turn around the Oilers. Like buy-out Sheldon Souray and fire Kevin Lowe? [Lowetide]
* Finally, one-punch knockout in rec league hockey. Sweet: