Feb. 3, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen (30) blocks a shot on goal during the first period against the Winnipeg Jets at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

To Realign or Not:That Is The Question

It’s been a great year thus far for your Florida Panthers. We started off strong, sweeping the board right before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, as the injury bug continues to hit us, we must continue to make that stride for excellence with the Washington Capitals breathing down our necks. Luckily for us, the Florida Panthers schedule will get somewhat easier, just in the nick of time.

It’s been about a month since the hockey world was informed that there would be a realignment. This would entail breaking up the teams into a seven-team conferences that will play each other six times – three home, three away. My first thought: not too shabby…. but I continued to read on. The Panthers would play every other team twice, one home and one away. The top four teams in each conference would make the playoffs. I thought this was great. It seemed like a better opportunity for our Florida Panthers to reach the promise land once again. Pending the NHL Players Association’s approval, all this would take effect starting next season.

As more information leaked to the public, the more I realized how bad this could actually be for not only the NHL, but for the Florida Panthers. Our conference would include Tampa Bay, Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Buffalo. While I liked the fact we didn’t have to play a lot of top notch competitors such as the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins, we did have a lot of traveling to do throughout the season. According to OnTheForecheck.com, the Panthers are scheduled to travel 52,751 miles this season. Can you imagine how much more traveling they would do, based on the fact we will be playing Canadian teams all year? As a Panther fan, we don’t know exactly what the players endure throughout the season, but I can only assume the travel is grueling. They have families they only get to see every other week, they have to get up for flights at the crack of dawn, practices throughout the day and so forth.

During an 82 game season, I just don’t see this realignment being good news for us fans either. With the National Hockey League being underrated by most sports fans, we need more national exposure. What draws fans to arenas? Winning teams and star players. The thought of seeing Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators more often than Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin is mind blowing.

Thankfully, the NHL Players Association did not approve this realignment, and Panther fans can now take a deep breath. This would have certainly  turned a lot of fans off from coming to the arena.  While we continue to cheer on our Florida Panthers, I don’t think playing the same teams over and over is the correct answer. Still plenty of hockey left this season. Let’s Go Cats!

Thanks for reading!

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Tags: Alexander Ovechkin Florida Panthers NHL Players Association Sidney Crosby

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