“If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end, as to be worthy of remembrance.” King Theoden. The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
No need to recap, we all know what happened. The Florida Panthers lost 3-2 in overtime to the New Jersey Devils in game seven of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, giving the Devils a 4-3 series win. For the Devils, they move on to face the Philadelphia Flyers. For the Panthers, it’s to the off-season they go.
For the Panthers and their fans, it’s an ending. But never in the history of this franchise has an ending felt so much like a beginning. This team was put together with the idea of not only changing the culture of a franchise that had endured more than a decade of losing but of creating an atmosphere that would be conducive to bringing along the talented young players drafted over the past two-plus drafts. On both of those fronts, mission accomplished. Now a team that unexpectedly won their division can welcome the the guys who are going to be the meat and potatoes of this franchise for years to come.
It’s easy to disappointed with the ending of the season but, the team went out showing the hockey world what Panthers fans have known all along. That despite statistical imbalances, despite not being the most overly-skilled team, despite looking like a complete mess at times, that this team had as much guts and heart as any team still left in the playoffs. They could’ve rolled over in the third on Thursday but they didn’t. They did what we’ve seen all season long. They threw everything in their arsenal at the Devils for the final two and a half periods, they Devils had just that little bit extra. As a fan, you can live with that. Especially since, getting this far seemed like playing with the house’s money. They weren’t supposed to be there. Some say they shouldn’t have been there. But they showed they belonged there.
There are better teams in this franchise’s very near future but this one will remembered for making South Florida care about hockey again after 12 years of “Meh”. Years from now, this team, with all of its shortcomings, will hold a special place in the hearts of South Florida hockey fans. And, they’ve earned it. *Stick taps*
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