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Dreger Report: Thomas will sign once Panthers' owner is set

Darren Dreger
9/25/2013 5:23:36 PM
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Vincent Viola, a.k.a. New York businessman Vinnie Viola, is about to become the owner of the Florida Panthers. The deal, believed to be worth $250 million, will give Viola sole ownership of the franchise and could close as early as Thursday or Friday. 

The NHL Board of Governors' approval has already been determined and league owners are eager to welcome Viola to their exclusive club. 

The $250 million sale price does not include the arena -  which is county owned, but managed by the hockey team.

Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will likely be among the most excited when this transaction closes, as he and his management team have faced many challenges in trying to keep the team competitive on a rather paltry budget.

And once Tallon has full ownership clearance, expect veteran goaltender Tim Thomas to sign with the Panthers. If the deal comes together in time, it's possible Thomas could make his preseason debut against Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

So far, the Panthers have been impressed by Thomas' work ethic and although he's untested by game action, Thomas seems to still possess the quick reflexes and timing he relied on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2011 as a key member of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

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Chris Hansen, the man and the money behind the plan to build a new arena in Seattle, stopped by NHL headquarters in New York on Wednesday to update the league on the project.

While details from the meeting are few, it's believed Hansen told NHL brass that the arena build remains full speed ahead. Many around the game see Seattle as an obvious and prime target for NHL expansion. But while interest in Seattle remains constant, relocation or expansion is not - at this time - a priority.

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The National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association believe communication - and not an additional rule change - is the best approach when it comes to a commitment to encourage players keep their helmets on in a fight. 

Although some around the league would prefer more than a two-minute minor penalty, which hasn't proven to be much of a deterrent, the league and PA will continue to keep an eye on the issue. The joint message to the players is this: Respect the rules or they will get much worse.

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Phoenix Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette still awaits his day in appeals court with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Bissonnette is appealing his automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to start an altercation. All involved continue to work on scheduling the appeal, but a source close to the process suggests the case will be heard over the weekend.

If Bettman upholds the 10-game suspension, Bissonnette has the option to seek final ruling from a neutral discipline arbitrator.

See you soon.

Darren Dreger

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TSN 1050: TSN Drive with Dave Naylor: Hour Three- Oct 16

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