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.
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