Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sun-Sentinel Article about the Panthers not Contacting José

Panthers and G Jose Theodore Not Talking

by Harvey Fialkov

Unsigned goalie has no thoughts about retirement; wants to return to Florida but says two other teams are interested.

Veteran goalie Jose Theodore will turn 37 next month and is still unsigned, but he's been in this situation before, so he's certainly not ready to call it a career.
Theodore admitted his agent has not heard from the Panthers, who seem content to go with 23-year-old Jacob Markstrom as their starter and veteran Scott Clemmensen as his backup. But Theodore said he has received interest from two other unnamed teams.
"The Panthers are still my No. 1 choice. I don't know if the door is closed, but there's been no discussions,'' Theodore said Thursday in an exclusive interview with the Sun Sentinel. "Training camp is still a month away, so I'm not ready to think about [retirement].
"I was in the same situation before I signed in Minnesota before the [2010 season]. There's not a lot of room out there so I'll just wait, stay in shape because that's what I can control. I know I still have options.''
Theodore signed a contract with the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 2, 2010 or five days before their season started in Helsinki, Finland. He ended up having a fine season, going 15-11-3 with a 2.71 goals-against-average.
That led to his two-year stint with the Panthers, where he helped take the Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers to their first Southeast Division championship while snapping an NHL-record 10-season playoff drought.
Theodore, who played his first nine seasons for Montreal, where he was the last goalie to win the Vezina and Hart trophies in the same season (2001-02), was 22-16-11 with a 2.46 GAA for Florida.
However, last year was a disaster for the Panthers as the lockout and a spate of injuries that included Theodore, sent them back to the bottom. Theodore, playing in front of mostly promoted AHLers and rookies, was 4-6-3 with a 3.29 GAA, his worst average since 2006 and far below his 2.68 career mark.
His season ended on March 3 when he tore his groin against Carolina. Although he was physically ready to play by the final week of the season, the Panthers preferred to give Markstrom more experience. Clemmensen and Markstrom also struggled, finishing with 3.67 and 3.22 GAAs, respectively.
"My injury last year hurt my value with me not finishing the season, but look at just two years ago when I played [53] games and we finished first in our division,'' Theodore said. "It's not like I didn't show the league what I can do. Last year was tough for me personally and the team.
"Not knowing when you're going to play was the same for everybody, but still strange. It's a season you want to forget.''
Theodore finds himself in a similar limbo, however, he knows the hockey world takes August off and he's considered one of the top four free-agent goalies remaining, along with Tim ThomasIlya Bryzgalov and Johan Hedberg. He may have to begrudgingly accept a backup role.
Theodore isn't sitting around moping. Last week he played golf with tennis great Ivan Lendl, and on Sunday became a sensation when TV cameras caught him making a one-handed catch of a ball struck by Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup in Montreal while holding a beer and cellphone in the other hand.
Theodore, 14 wins shy of 300 victories, is hoping to make many more catches before he hangs up No. 60.

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