For the past 11 seasons the Florida Panthers have missed the post season. A running NHL record that the franchise isn’t proud of, and the fans are embarrassed by and tremendously upset with. Unless you’ve lived through this in our city, you have no idea of what we endure. It’s not fun, it’s aggravating and it’s disheartening. As a transplant from Chicago, it’s no secret that I have another team (Chicago Blackhawks) to root for that recently has enjoyed success, but I have always been a Panther fan from the first day I moved here back in 1993. I’ve lived through the good, and have survived the bad. I was also one of the most opinionated and most disgusted fans as well. You can go back to when this site first started in September of 2009, and read all of my frustrations, and outspoken snippets. My nasty and sarcastic comments, as well as the jokes that were made at this team, it’s coaches. It’s all there for you to read.
I’ve voiced my opinion about players and coaches whom I felt were dragging this team down. I’ve argued with fans that we don’t have to settle for mediocre players who never reach their potential (Olesz), keep players that don’t want to be here (Bouwmeester), and to forget about trades that didn’t work out (Luongo). I’ve seen it all, and heard it all. The broken promises, the false hope that’s been provided, the gimmicks and the nonsense.
I am here to tell you as we have less than two weeks for the 2011-2012 season to start, that this time “It’s for real”. Why and how can I say that? Before I answer that, take a look at the roster that we finished with last season. Impressive? Hardly. 50 percent or more of those players are gone, and other than Tomas Vokoun, will be fogotten. Look at this years roster. Do you seriously think that we aren’t better by at least 10 wins? Do you not think that with the 11 new players that were either signed through free agency or traded for that this team isn’t capable of scoring more goals, giving up less goals and providing some exciting hockey?
The Craig Button’s of the world and all the other pundits don’t think we’re any better. Balderdash!! While I’m not predicting a Stanley Cup parade this year or next, I’m sick and tired of reading about how we have such a long way yo go to be better, and how things will take forever to mesh. What Dale Tallon has done is bring in players that are proven winners. Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Kris Versteeg all have Stanley Cup rings. Most of the other players have playoff experience and can provide veteran leadership on a team that hasn’t had this kind of experience in years. These players also want to be here as indicated by their signing of contract during fee agency, as well as lifting their no trade clauses (Campbell).
Dale Tallon, with the support and the approval of ownership has begun to transform this team into his team. A team of character players that will play hard every night, and give this city something to be proud of. It amazes me how no one outside of here gives us a chance. It actually cracks me up actually, and I often wonder what they base their reasoning on. Mostly it appears that people are concerned that too many new players will take forever to build chemistry. Pay attention folks. Campbell, Versteeg, Kopecky and Jack Skille have all played together. Jose Theodore, Matt Bradley, and Tomas Fleischman have all played together. Ed Jovanovski played here before and experienced success and can guide the young defenders such as Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov.
The other thing that cracks me up is that while the prognosticators look at us with one eye closed, there’s been no talk of the Philadelphia Flyers and all their changes. Losing your captain and one of your top scorers, while acquiring seven new players themselves doesn’t seem to be an issue to others in the know. Oh, and Jaromir Jagr is in your dressing room? We’ll see how that works out won’t we.
Again, no championship predictions yet, but honestly this team is better. Much better than last year, the year before and most any year before that. More offence, more defense, more grit and sandpaper, and most of all, these players have character. If these guys work hard, and play hard every night, and every shift like they have in the past and like they’ve indicated, the Florida Panthers are going to surprise a lot of people. Most of those surprised however will be outside the city of Sunrise, Florida.
The blueprint that Dale Tallon has maped out is taking shape. If you’ve heard him talk and you’ve paid attention to not only what he says but how he says it, you can hear the determination, the passion in his voice that he will not be satisfied until this team is successfully challenging for a Stanley Cup. The Florida Panthers are going to win folks. They’re going to win often and be entertaining while doing it. You heard it here first!
Ok, let the comments begin. Do you believe the changes that are taking place this time are for real?
Don’t forget starting Sunday we’ll be doing our division previews and on Monday October 3rd we will have our Florida Panther Season Prediction!
As always thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
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