After finishing the season with a 22 point improvement over last year, a playoff birth for the first time in 12 seasons, and a first ever divisional championship the Florida Panther faithful are faced with something they haven’t dealt with in previous seasons. What now? In the past when the season ended in early April, and hey, let’s not kid ourselves, many of those seasons were actually over in February or March, the Panthers played this year until almost the fourth weekend of the month. After the double overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils ended the season last Thursday night, or rather Friday morning, I ask , “What do we do now”?
I admit that I wasn’t ready for the season to end, and maybe for me it’s the way that it did, in overtime, that has hit me like a ton of bricks, and sapped my energy. After I published my post on Saturday morning, where I described the way I felt before, during and after game 7, I truly felt as though I have nothing left, and need some time away from the game. It’s been difficult to write, as I just can’t come up with any original ideas. Sure at some point we’ll do our season and player reviews. We’ll cover the draft, and we’ll take a look at free agency, but honestly for the first time in years, I’m literally emotionally drained.
Come to think of it, so are some of you. Don’t lie, you know it’s true. Raise your hand if you’ve sent me a text message, a tweet, or an email that says something similar to “I can’t believe it, now what”?. Or how about, “Hockey is really over, ugg”. Sad, but true the season for the Florida Panthers has come to an end, and for me, both of my teams (the Chicago Blackhawks and the Panthers) were eliminated in the same week, so you can imagine what I’m going through. Watching hockey right now is about as high up on my list of things to do as getting a root canal.
At some point I’m sure the depression (if that’s what this is) will go away. I’m sure that I’ll take a moderate interest in the remaining playoffs, but for right now I’d rather watch reruns of Gunsmoke. (I’m showing my age with that one). This much I know….I don’t want any team from the Eastern Conference to win the Stanley Cup. I don’t like the New York Rangers, and I hate the Philadelphioa Flyers, and who wants New Jersey or even the Washington Capitals to win? Therefore I guess that I would have to pick a winner from the Western Conference and honestly I don’t really care about them either, but what the heck, I’ll just say the Los Angeles Kings. Why not? Great goaltending with Jonathan Quick. A hard nosed captain in Dustin Brown. A nice young maturing defenceman in Drew Doughty, and a guy who likes pancakes in Dustin Penner. Also, who couldn’t like or maybe laugh at the sport coats and facial expressions of head coach Darryl Sutter?
So if push comes to shove, and you force me to make a choice,there it is, I’m going with the Kings, which may not have been my choice a few days ago. In the meantime however, until I can get myself to care again, I need to find something to do or watch. I could watch baseball where as of today my Baltimore Orioles are in second place competing for a wild card birth. I know better, they’ll start the swoon around Memorial Day. The Cubs? Forget it. They’re already out of it, and it’s not even May 15th. Watch basketball you say? I usually only watch the last five minutes of a playoff game if I watch at all and as you know those last few minutes can sometimes take a half hour with all the time outs. No thanks. Golf? Boring. Tennis? Nah.
So right now what does that leave? Mad Men, The Good Wife and The Killing. And for some mindless TV, Broke Girls. None of these will sap my emotions, and none of them will cause me to “break dishes”, drink heavily, or leave me awake at night when it’s over. All things that the sport that I/we love so much would cause me/us to do. Even still, I’m going to miss those feelings for awhile.
The good thing is though, that the season isn’t all that far off, and the players are hungry for more. With a few tweaks here and there, and the intentions of Dale Tallon to continue the work of his blueprint by being active in free agency, looking at a trade or two, and making some shrewd draft picks, interest will come back, and we will find a reason to get excited again very soon. I can only hope that time doesn’t go as slow as it did last summer, and the days and nights pass quickly.
If you want to grab a beer and have a group hug, name the place and let me know. I’m sure at some point we could all use it.
In the meantime, feel good about the season. Be proud to be a Florida Panther fan.
The team is on the map again, and things are only going to get better. This isn’t one and done. This is “we want more”.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to tell us how you’re feeling.
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