If it’s Thursday it must be time for The Ex-Panther Factor. Rather than take a look at a former player of our franchise, we’ll take a look at a specific team and examine how their playoff lifespan for the up coming post season will be affected. We’ll also back that prediction up with proof that in this particular instance, past performance can indeed be an indicator of the future. I’m not selling mutual funds here, so that statement won’t need my compliance department’s approval. For those of you new to this site, and wondering where did this Ex-Panther Factor idea come from, I’ll briefly explain as it’s really quite simple.
Growing up in Chicago and being a Chicago Cubs fan, the city’s favorite baseball team has been a perennial breaker of hearts, and hasn’t won a World Series since 1908. Having had many a quality player on their roster over the years, as well as some not so talented, it’s been scientifically determined that once a player leaves the Cubs and gets to his next destination, the team that employed the most Ex-Cubs would have no chance of winning the World Series. I have thus transferred that “curse” to the NHL and called it the Ex-Panther Factor, where the team with the most Ex-Florida Panthers on it’s roster had no chance of winning the Stanley Cup. Since I have started this phenomenon, I’ve been 100% correct. This will be year four provided that I’m right. But heck three out of four wouldn’t be bad either.
The Vancouver Canucks will not win this year’s Stanley Cup due to the Ex-Panther Factor. Wash, rinse, repeat, as they will continue to fail to win it all one more time due to their roster of players that had previously donned the sweaters of the team here in South Florida. Now some will think that since I have deep Chicago roots that my opinion and early prediction is biased. My Chicago based roots have nothing to do with this, and it’s the facts that support the truth. My prediction has nothing to do with the style of hockey Vancouver plays either, which also contributes to their playoff failures. The lack of control that some of the players exhibit at times, as well as the cheap shots and dirty hits they’ve given out, have all come back to bite them. Speaking of biting what about biting fingers, pulling hair and kneeing the opposition in the groin. Oh, and let’s not forget the posturing in the media about the lack of penalties that should have been called against them either. Yes using the press has done them many favors. This team doesn’t need any help pumping their tires, they do a pretty good job of that for their opponents as this video shows.
Let’s get to the statistics that prove this out, and review the past three playoff years for the Canucks. You need a little bit of background of each series to get the complete picture. The Blackhawk fans who read this site will understand what I’m talking about. In the 2008-2009 season Vancouver finished with a very solid season at 100 points. Good enough for third in the Western Conference, however they ended up losing in the conference semi-finals to the Chicago Blackhawks four games to two. This is the series where the bad blood began between these two teams. The Canucks won two of the first three games, however the Hawks took control and won the final three games that included Vancouver and former Florida Panther goaltender Roberto Luongo giving up a touchdown to the young and entertaining Blackhawks in a 7-5 battle. He’s an Ex-Panther you know. The Hawks would eventually go on to lose the conference finals at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings four games to one, but knew exactly how to get under Vancouver’s skin. The Canucks while only having two Ex-Panthers on their team, had exactly two more than the Hawks.
In the 2009-2010 season Vancouver finished third again in their conference with 103 points. Vancouver once again met up with the Hawks in the conference semi-finals and again lost four games to two. The Canucks won the first game by a score of 5-1 and thought they would be able to coast the rest of the way. However Hawks won the next three games, and the two teams split the final two, as Chicago advanced. The Canucks continued their fiesty and uncontrollable behavior against the young and brash Hawks, and all it got them was in deeper trouble. Roberto Luongo again would suffer some difficult defeats, and had yet another game where the Hawks scored seven times. This Vancouver team had five Ex-Panthers on the roster compared to one for the Hawks. As you know the Hawks went on to win the Stanley Cup that year defeating the Philadelphia Flyers four games to two.
In 2010-2011 the Canucks were determined to get past their nemisis, and built their roster for what they thought would be a long playoff run. Feeling that the Blackhawks were the only thing in their way of getting to drink out of Lord Stanley’s chalice, the Canucks felt they did everything right during the season, including winning the President’s Trophy as the best team in the league. They opened up their first round series against who else, but the Chicago Blackhawks who I will admit, backed into the playoffs finishing eighth in the conference after a season long Stanley Cup hangover. The talk of the series was how much better Vancouver was, how much more talented they were, and that this was the year that they would win it all.
The series sure started that way as the Canucks bulldozed their way to a 3-0 series lead, which included the usual nonsense, but we won’t talk about that. You can review a small portion of it right here. The party, and parade was being planned as game four in Chicago began. Unfortunately, the Hawks had too much pride for a four game sweep, and scored seven times (again) on Roberto Luongo in a 7-2 beating. The Hawks would win the next two games before an unfortunate giveaway by Chris Campoli in overtime to Alex Burrows who scored the winner in a thrilling game seven, allowing the Canucks to advance. As Little Miss Rat Trick stormed upstairs after that game winning goal, I watched the Canucks celebrate the series victory that almost eluded them. They gathered and hugged, and seemingly kissed each other as though they had just won the Stanley Cup. Maybe to them it was. I said to myself, “no way this team wins it all”. It was an epic first round series.
I think you know how the rest of the story turned out as Vancouver beat the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks en route to the Finals which they lost to the Boston Bruins in a hard fought, penalty infested seven game series. Once again the Canucks felt their roster was in need of adding more Ex-Panthers, and had six of them compared to only three for the Bruins.
As we are about to get to the post season for 2011-2012, the early prediction is based on the same facts as before. The team with the most Ex-Panthers will not win the Stanley Cup, and this season Vancouver leads all teams with seven Ex-Panther players who have dressed at least once. You can look at their current roster and see for yourself. The teams that are next closest are the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins with three each.
Nothing personal mind you, and although I do think that Vancouver seems to have the feeling of entitlement to things, with all their bellyaching about penalties and such, the bottom line is that the theory works. The Canucks have played well during the regular season, and would seem to be a strong contender to win the Cup. Unfortunately for them that won’t be the case again.
There are some issues that need to be sorted out. Who’s the starting goaltender? Is it Roberto Luongo who has shown the inability to win big games? Or is it the young and future netminder Cory Schneider? What about the Sedin twins? Yes, one of them is hurt and missing time with a concussion, but when they are healthy, they have disappeared, or been non-factors when it counts. Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler have a habit of getting under the oppositions skin. It’s too bad since they are two talented players who should concentrate on the game on the ice, and not the game inside each other’s head. We’ll find all this out soon enough, as this post season promises to be another exciting time.
I do have a question though. Is it really necessary to have to tell your city with an advertising campaign how to react for the upcoming playoffs? You see Vancouver, you always appear to be putting the cart before the horse, but it’s your roster of players that determines your fate.
Too many Ex-Panthers virtually guarantees that you won’t win the Stanley Cup.
Disclaimer: No offense to any current Panther players or the organization itself. The regime that we have now is new, and the culture has changed. We’ve moved onto bigger and better things, and that includes more talented players as well. The Panthers haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet, and I’m not promising that we will. I do know that when it happens, and no matter how far they go, we won’t need a riot squad to break up the party.
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions. For more on the Ex-Cub Factor click here.
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