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bye bye horton?


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Roberts, Bertuzzi on track




Gary Roberts inched closer to a return to the Panthers' lineup Thursday, and teammate Todd Bertuzzi remained on schedule.


Roberts, out since Jan. 2 because of a torn hip flexor, and Bertuzzi, who had back surgery and last played Oct. 20, donned green uniforms and took part in Thursday's full pregame skate at BankAtlantic Center. Afterward, Roberts said he likely will miss Florida's home game against Los Angeles on Saturday but hopes to play Tuesday at Colorado.


Roberts reiterated Thursday that it isn't wise for him to rush back from his injury, for fear that he might again be forced out and lost for the season.


''It's coming along, and the tear is slowly healing,'' Roberts said. ``I'm still not able to sprint out there. My first three strides for me aren't generally fast, but they're definitely fast right now. I thought I might be back for Saturday, but after today's practice, I don't think so.


``It'll be next week sometime, hopefully Colorado [or] at the worst case, Minnesota.''


Bertuzzi had an appointment with a team doctor Thursday night and is on track for a return in two weeks. Coach Jacques Martin said it was good to see both participate in practice.


''He needs to practice with contact,'' Martin said. ``We're going in the right direction.''




Martin said he wouldn't comment on a published report that winger Nathan Horton, 21, was unhappy with the organization and might look to sign elsewhere this offseason.


The Panthers hold Horton's rights for the next few years, although he could sign an offer sheet with another team. The Panthers would then have to decide whether to match the offer.


Horton has been the object of some scorn this season, but Martin said there is nothing to read into that. Martin added that he has a good personal relationship with Horton and wasn't concerned about his future in South Florida.


''He's 21, he's our second-leading scorer and is a plus player,'' Martin said. ``Sometimes I expect more from him, but no more than anyone else on the team. He's a young player who has a great future with this organization. I enjoy working with him.''




? Gregory Campbell ditched his protective shield in time for Thursday's game. Campbell had needed the full shield to protect a broken facial bone sustained in a game earlier this year. Campbell was struck in the face by a puck in Calgary.


? Former Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo was named one of the league's three stars for January. Luongo, traded to Vancouver this past summer, was 8-1-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average, and he saved 95 percent of the shots he faced. On Jan. 7, he beat his former teammates in a shootout in Vancouver.


Atlanta's Dany Heatley was named the league's first star, with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby getting the second.


? Jay Bouwmeester was named the team's Defensive Player of the Month for January.


? Washington acquired defenseman Milan Jurcina in a trade with Boston on Thursday, but he was not in the lineup against the Panthers.





here is the post's take on it










Horton's frustration could lead to move

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen


By Brian Biggane


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


Thursday, February 01, 2007


The Panthers could face problems this summer in their efforts to re-sign one of their top young players, right winger Nathan Horton.


Multiple sources at last week's All-Star Game reported that Horton is unhappy and wants out of Florida. His Boston-based agent, Paul Krapelka, is believed to be attempting to orchestrate an offer sheet from another team that the Panthers could be unwilling to match.



Reached Tuesday at his office in Boston, Krapelka said Horton's dissatisfaction stems mostly from the team's inability to build a winner.


"He's frustrated at not winning, like everybody else down there," Krapelka said. "The unhappiness is a matter of frustration with the team.


"He may wear it on his sleeve more than other guys. But at no time have we ever asked he be traded."


Horton and part-time Tequesta resident Bobby Orr, who heads the agency for which Krapelka works, met with coach and General Manager Jacques Martin after a practice in Coral Springs two weeks ago to discuss Horton's situation. Martin said Wednesday the meeting's purpose was "to go over his role and give him a better understanding of what I expect. It was a good meeting; Nathan felt good when it was over."


Martin has demonstrated his frustration with Horton's lack of consistency this season by moving him from the first to the fourth line and benching him for extended periods during games. According to a team source, even Orr told Horton in the meeting that his effort has at times not been up to expectations.


Horton downplayed the meeting, saying: "It was nothing big. It was all about hockey."


Asked how he has felt about his season, he answered: "I've been playing pretty well. Not getting a lot of goals lately."


The third pick in the 2003 entry draft, Horton, 21, missed significant parts of his first two pro seasons with shoulder injuries. He finished second on the team in goals with 28 last season and is second with 15 this year, though he has only one in his past 11 games.


He also has 23 assists, eclipsing the career high of 19 he set last year. He's on a one-year contract, making him a restricted free agent unless he's re-signed by July 1.


Projected to play on the second or third line at the start of the season, he has spent much of the year on the first alongside Olli Jokinen as a result of Todd Bertuzzi's absence because of back surgery.


"I don't have a problem to play with him," Jokinen said. "He's a big young guy who's made good strides. Every year he's been better, and he's had a lot of injuries."


Jokinen, who didn't become a proficient scorer until four years ago at age 24, said it's not unusual for young players to struggle with intensity and commitment.


"Every young guy goes through that," he said. "I went through it. It's just a matter of getting stronger mentally, being willing to pay the price to play hard."


Horton, Jay Bouwmeester, Stephen Weiss and Rostislav Olesz have been identified as the core of young players Martin hopes to build around over the next few years. There's talk around the league that offer sheets will be back on the table this season after Philadelphia GM Bob Clarke used one in an unsuccessful attempt to pry forward Ryan Kesler away from Vancouver last September. Asked if he's familiar with talk Horton could be the subject of such a ploy, Martin said, "I haven't heard that at all."




the sun didnt do one but I think they dont realize we have a hockey team anyways.

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