Florida Panthers-It's Time to Get Serious!

While the Olympic break was initially thought to cause some fans to go beserk while the NHL went on hiatus for two weeks, we have actually survived quite nicley in this time.  No one could argue that the games that we have seen in the Olympics have been nothing short of excellent!  Because of that, these two weeks have been quite bearable and actually a nice break from the nonsense that is called the Florida Panthers.

That being said, with the Olympic games coming to a close, the Panthers have begun practicing again and the anxiety over what’s going to happen to their roster with the trade deadline coming has also become a subject of stomach sickness conversation.  An interesting article appeared today in the Sun-Sentinel about the recent Panther struggles and the causes for their playoff ineptitude.  Ethan Skolnik basically blames the lack of depth as the primary issue.

Well, he’s partly right, but if he’s looking for that to be the main reason, he’s further off base than Uncle Jack’s reasoning for giving Rostislav Olesz a 6 year contract.  The problems that this organization has go significantly deeper.  In the event you missed my previous blog which I will link for you right here, you can rest assured that it’s more than just depth.  Since I already focused my viewpoint on the type(s) of players the Panthers need, let’s look at management and their decisions.

I have been begging for a President of Hockey Operations for years.  This team is one of the few that doesn’t have a person on staff to handle all hockey business and act as a supervisor if you will between the General manager and the owners.  You can look at every team in the NHL and almost all of them have a person that is in this capacity.  The title may be different, but the responsibilites are the same.  This is the first shortcoming that I see and is a major cause for the teams ill fortune.

Secondly, and as a result of the above, there have been a ton of poor decisions made in management that have set the team back which has snowballed, causing them to miss the playoffs for the past nine years.  Do you all realize that the last time we won a playoff game, Doug MacLean was the coach?  The last time we were in the playoffs Bill Clinton was our President?

We have seen coaches come and go, general managers come and go, and players come and go.  Poor scouting on both a professional and amatuer level have led to poor draft choices and poor free agent signings, and even worse trades.  Speaking of drafts, in 2001 we took Stephen Weiss with the fourth pick.  Now everyone knows I am not a fan of his, and most likely never will be.  He’s too small, fragile, and doesn’t get his nose dirty enough for me.  We have been forced to use him as a number one center.  At best he’s a poor man’s number two.  Players drafted behind Weiss that year, Mike Komisarek and Dan Hamhuis, both defenseman.  Also, Ales Hemsky a skilled forward.  In 2003 we drafted Nathan Horton.  Want to see some of the names that went after him?  Dion Phanuef, Jeff Carter, Ryan Getzlaf, Zach Parise, and Brent Seabrook.  In 2004 the year we took Olesz, we passed on Travis Zajack and Mike Green.  And finally in 2002 the year we traded down with Columbus so they could pick Rick Nash, and we ended up with Jay Bouwmeester.  Bet we’d like to do that over again huh?  And that is just this past decade.  Remeber 1995?  We took Radek Dvorak tenth.  Now Radek is a nice player, but guess who was taken 11th?  Jarome Iginla!  Enough said.

As for trades, well, we can go over and over those and I’m not going to rehash what we already know.  I will say though that the Bouwmeester deal has set the franchise back.  We held on to him too long and the longer we did, the lower his value became.  Keeping him in hope that we made the playoffs and that it would have changed his mind was a terrible mistake.  Now the question becomes, will we get rid of another star player by trading Tomas Vokoun who happens to be our biggest asset?  Or, as I asked earlier, will we actually try to sign him to an extension?  If we go into the season next year with Vokoun on our roster, and don’t extend his contract, we will have shot ourselves in the foot.  Again. 

There’s no pressure to put a winning team on the ice and there is no pressure to hold these players accountable.  We have waited 8 years for Weiss to mature.  We have seen his best and he’s not getting any better.  Move on.  Horton has been extremely inconsistent.  Nice going by moving him to center Jacques.  I think that really screwed him up.  Yes, he’s been better this year, but you ignored the fact that we needed a center.  That fact has still been ignored, along with the fact that we have no pure goal scorer. 

Please, go out and get a selfish sniper.  You want to put asses in the seats, then we need a guy that can put the puck in the net almost at will.  This team needs a big name player, but be careful.  If you spend more than 7 million on this guy, we will have screwed ourselves again by spending like a drunken sailor.  Get rid of some of these bad contracts, and stop hanging on to players in hope that they deliver.  So many players had career years last season, I can’t believe that they were expected to duplicate it this year.   Also, can this crackpot management unit find some players who actually have hockey sense?  The decisions that some of these guys make have made my head spin.

It’s time for a new regime from management to the guy that washes the toilets.  I have no confidence in Randy Sexton being able to retool this roster.  I can’t understand why Scot Luce still has a job. I have discussed some of these items with Panther personnel and am quite surprised at the responses I get.  Myself, I believe in building from the net out and having a good solid defence, but also having a big power forward and a few skilled wingers.  A big number one center that can take on everyone else’s number one center.  Every night.  We don’t have that.

Until we get these pieces you are kidding yourself if you believe that we are going to be a playoff team.  The sky will fall before that happens with this roster.  It’s hard to put together you say and that it takes time?  Well how much fucking time do we need?  We’ve had ten years of garbage on the ice, behind the bench and sometimes in the front office.  No other hockey market that’s serious about it’s team would stand for it. 

Demand excellence.  Demand a strong and committed work ethic by all the players.  If not, get rid of them.  Accept nothing less.  And please, don’t tell the fans that these guys are working hard and are committed and that they care.  If they did, and you must ask yourself if they really do, don’t you think we’d be in a better situation than we are?

Stop telling me, a hockey fan of over 40 years, and a season ticket holder for over 25 in the two cities I have lived in, that things are going to change.  Been hearing it for way too long.

We want results.  Just like Don Draper, no more B.S.

Put up, or shut up!

Enjoy the weekend.  Enjoy the Olympic games.

Thanks for reading.


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Tags: Florida Panthers Nathan Horton Stephen Weiss

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