Don't Settle for Medicority. It's Time For A Change.

Are you enjoying the playoffs?  Are you having fun cheering for a certain player or a certain team?  Well if you follow the Florida Panthers you are experiencing non playoff hockey for the 10th consecutive season.  Where’s the fun in that?  As for myself I’ve had the pleasure of the last few years of my original team the Chicago Blackhawks make a resurgence, win a Stanely cup for the first time in 49 years, only to be ousted in the first round this season by Vancouver.  Needless to say, my heart is just not in the playoffs.

Yes, I would love the Canucks to get knocked out, but it looks as though they’ll be advancing past Nashville, potentially Saturday night….and their next opponent will be come my favourite team.  I was ok with the Panthers not making it this season as I knew they wouldn’t.  My preseason prediction was bang on.  15th in the Eastern Conference.  But at least the Hawks extended my intense playoff watching until their demise a couple Tuesday’s ago.  It’s been a difficult time since then as I have had virtually little interest, in watching anything other than Vancouver get knocked out.  Can you sense the anger?

As a Panther fan on the other hand, I say it’s finally time to stop.  Stop waiting.  Stop wishing.  Stop hoping.  Stop praying.  And most of all, stop settling.  There are many fans out there with the mindset of, “it’s ok.  We have to get bad before we get good”  Um, we’ve been bad for 10 years people.  Some of them downright horrible.  Some will think that with new ownership and a new general manager things will be better.  In some ways they are, as we got rid of some of the dead wood, and some of the fat contracts.  The team that was ultimately on the ice at the close of the season won’t be anywhere near what we’ll see in October.

Besides new players that we expect to acquire by trade, draft, and free agency, the team is also in need of a coach.  Peter DeBoer was “relieved” of his duties after not making the playoffs three consecutive seasons.  Some say he had little to work with, while others like me say, he wasn’t ready to work with what he had.  I have nothing against DeBoer.  But we haven’t advanced during his tenure….more like we regressed.  Therefore Dale Tallon decided to do the only thing that has made sense.  Clean house.

As the “Blueprint” unfolds over the summer, I am first very interested in who his hired as the new head coach.  Personally I’d like someone who not only has a good track record and pays attention to detail, but installs a style that is uptempo and forces his team to play an aggressive game.  I’m kinda tired of getting pushed around, and tired of watching all four lines play dump and chase.  I also want a coach that’s has won at a major level.  No retread coaches like Uncle Jack who have 600 plus wins, but no championship anywhere.

As for players, I am done with average.  I’ve had it with journeymen, and I could care less about 12-16 role players.  The bulk of this roster at the end of the season was worthy for the AHL.  That can’t work anymore.  The NHL is a very different game then it was in 1993 when the Panthers first came into existence.  A hard working team that didn’t score much could go a long way in the regular season, and if they got lucky do some damage in the playoffs.  Now, at this time, we need players who are highly skilled, physical, and determined to play hard on every shift.  Players that have hockey sense.  We need stars.  No more 35 year old “veteran ‘s” that know how to win and can teach.  Stop teaching, and show me!

It’s time fans to stop settling and waiting for success to come.  Ted Leonsis, owner of a team that annually dissappoints knows that his fans will demand change. This coming from an owner who has had his team playing on all cylinders in many of the previous regular seasons, only to fall short in the playoffs.  He has a superstar as well, but needs to build his team with some missing parts that will give him success in the playoffs.  Goaltender?  Defensive defencemen?  Less Europeans?  Something.  While he knows the fans will demand change, why can’t we?  The last time we played in the playoffs Bill Clinton was president.

Let’s get real people.  Stephen Weiss, David Booth are nice players. ( I did not just say that about Weiss did I?) But they are not components that make up your number one line.  For all the complaining some did about Olli Jokinen, I’ll bet you miss his 90 points a year.  You complain about coach’s that are snarly and have an edge, then you complain about coach’s that are too soft.  Tomas Vokoun?  Don’t even start about him.  All I have to tell you is look at Philly.  Put him there and the Flyers are a different team.

Dale Tallon has a big task ahead of him and with 30 million to spend, I can only hope (there I go again) that he spends it wisely.  We as fans want a winner.  We’re tired of losing and tired of rebuilds.  Put together a team that will compete nightly, be exciting to watch, and one that can challenge for the Stanley Cup.  You all think it can’t happen in less than 3 or 4 years.  I have three words for you:  Tampa Bay Lightning.

Thanks for reading.   We welcome your comments and opinions.

Please visit our NHL main page: Too Many Men On The Site.

Follow the Rat pack onTwitter: me @TheRatTrick David Lasseter @davidlasseter and Josh Luecht @joshluechtAlso, please join our Facebook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and make some comments.

Want The Rat Trick on your smartphone? Download the app and get the best in Florida Panthers coverage

Tags: Bill Clinton Blueprint Dale Tallon'olli Jokinen David Booth Florida Panthers Stephen Weiss Ted Leonsis Tomas Vokoun

  • slapshot1106

    Not really fair to compare us to Tampa because Weiss and Booth are well below St Louis and Vinny, but I see your point. I just think we’re still going to have to teach patience to ourselves..

    Yes they have $$$ they have to spend, but the free agent market isn’t the best.. Richards will probably sign with Toronto or the Rangers, unless Dallas can pull it together and re-sign him… And I don’t think Richards is our answer either. Sure he’d easily be our best star player since Bure, but we’re still too many parts away from going after the big fish…. And thankfully there isn’t a guy like Kovalchuk out there this year to tempt Tallon and Santos. I just don’t think we’re the type of organization that can afford to pay out a mega contract, and then have it slap us in the face because the guy only plays when he feels like it…

    I think Tallon and Santos should probably spend most of the $30 mill++ by front-loading some of the guys they’re comfortable having around for 3 or 4 years.. Weiss and Booth are both signed, so I’d say present reasonable contract offers out for Santorelli, Garrison, Weaver, etc.. And slightly more cautious offers to Dadonov, Kulikov, Reasoner, Skille,Hordy, etc… Samsonov deserves a 1 or 2 year deal to give us some scoring potential while we wait for more development… I think T-Vo will be offered a contract, and probably will have to be so we’re not a lottery pick all year…

    For the remaining, I’d pick at least 2 or 3 solid character additions as FWDS.. You know it’s tough to attract top offensive talent here, so get as many quality additions as you can and hope like heck your youngsters come up and develop quicker than most..

    And maybe we should consider going the offer sheet route. Not that we’d ever out-pay others for the Parise and Stamkos types, but on a smaller scale a guy like Drew Stafford, Andrew Ladd, Brad Marchand, or Nathan Gerbe,etc..
    It’s kind of frowned upon amongst most NHL teams, but sometimes smaller market teams have to do what they have to do to find an edge and compete with those that have excess $$$ to spend…

  • Frank Rekas

    Slapshot, I’m with you on most everything you say. I’m not sold on Samsonov. He has a boatload of talent, but typical with many Euro’s, he doesn’t bring it every night and that concerns me. I would not over pay for him. If someone gives him more than 2 mill and more than one year, have at it.

    There’s a few character guys I have on my list. Curtis Glencross is one. We need his grit and edge.

  • SLAPSHOT1106

    Yes I’m not sold on Samsonov totally either, but he may be our best offensive potential for someone in the $2mill range. And considering how hard it will be for us to get talent without exorbitantly overpaying, he should be able to help the miserable PP improve at the very least…

    It looks like Weiss, Booth, Olesz, Dadonov, and Timmins are the only FWDS signed for this year. Reasoner and Santorelli will surely both be re-signed, so it looks like we’ll need to sign 6 forwards, assuming Timmins is sent back to the minors. As far as Dmen go, it looks like we’ve got Garrison, Ellerby, Weaver, and Kulikov all signed, so by adding Gudbranson, we’ll probably only need 2 or 3 more for depth…

    Assuming all we do is spend the $30 mill to get us to the Cap Minimum, there will only be so much to go around:

    $5 mill–T-Vo
    $2.5 mill–Santorelli
    $1.5 mill–Reasoner
    $2 mill–Samsonov
    $1 mill to $1.5 mill each for Skille, Matthias, also maybe Ryan Carter, Bergfors, etc..

    So that roughly leaves $15 mill to pay Gudbranson, 2 Dmen, and hopefully 3 to 4 new Fwds… I’m sure we won’t be going after high-priced Dmen, so we should have about $10 mill minimum to go after Fwds.

    Now if there’s quality Fwds out there that they can find a way to recruit here to South Fl, let’s hope they’ll spend it logically. Glencross would be a solid signing, but now I’m sure there’s a ton of other teams that would want him since he had a breakout year. Also Calgary probably won’t let him go too easy.. I think out key is to try to find 1 or 2 BEFORE they have their breakout year…

    So I guess it all depends if Howden or any of the other youngsters will be able to step up and play as NHLers.. Let’s hope we can bring in 2 character guys, and 1 or 2 others to move some of last year’s Top6 guys down to the 3rd or 4th line, or on to other adventures where many of them truly belong…

  • Frank Rekas

    Your numbers look pretty close to what I’d propose. Maybe a bit much for Vokie, but still, seems about right. A marque player will be tough to sign, but not impossible. We may have to slightly overspend on one UFA. Who that is, I’m not sure yet.

    As for defence, a good vet like Brewer would make a lot of sense.

  • slapshot1106

    With Vokie, I figure the top guys get about $6-7 mill, so I can’t see him accepting less than $5 mill.. Frankly, it’s kind of like admitting we’re out of it early on by not signing him, but if it means us spending it on other quality guys that are willing to sign for at least 3-4 years, then I’d do it.. We’re probably still at least one more lottery away from realistically being where we need to be to build upon. This year was all about cleansing out the averageness. Now we draft and develop..

    Too bad JM had to hold out with the Flyers a couple years ago because they wouldn’t offer up Carter or Hartnell.. Instead they were offering VanRiemsdyk for T-VO, and that kid has really come along… At some point we’re going to have to make one of those deals, and come out ahead. Also, too bad the Flyers didn’t have their goaltending issues in the playoffs last year like they did this year. Then they surely would’ve been putting in offers for T-VO.. Now we’ll probably get nothing, and the Flyers will probably make a quality offer for Byrzgalov. Typical Panther luck as we’ll get shafted again..

    As far as Brewer, yes he seems solid, but I’m sure Tampa will win the battle if it comes down to the 2 FL teams trying to sign him… Wisniewski would help the PP some, but now you’d have to overpay because he was a solid addition for the Habs. Better off spending elsewhere. Again we have to find another Santorelli, sign 2 quality character UFA Fwds, and at least 1 Dman… Probably 1 more year for Olesz, and then I think he’ll be bought out when we’re ready to bring up some future stars…