Tonight was to be THE night, Opening Night 2012 and the chance to see the Panthers raise their 2011 Southeast Division Champions banner to the newly renamed BB&T Center rafters.
The Panthers were to open their defense of last season’s division championship against a cross-state and divisional rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was sure to be a good game, what with the firepower of the Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg line facing off against the line featuring Martin St. Louis and 2011 60-goal player Steven Stamkos. The goaltending matchup would have been interesting as well with Jose Theodore likely in net for the Panthers and either Mathieu Garon (coming off a season-ending groin injury last March) or the newly-acquired Anders Lindback in net for the Bolts.
Instead, what did Panther fans (or hockey fans for that matter) do tonight? I’m sure it varied from person-to-person, with some watching minor-league hockey, NCAA college football or just hanging out at home, drinking their sorrows away. However, one thing remained the same –It wasn’t what we wanted to be doing most.
Will we see hockey at all this season? Will Panther fans get the opportunity to watch their team raise last seasons division championship banner? That seems to be the question hockey fans and Panther fans have been asking daily. Honestly, I can’t answer that except to say it’s possible. Regardless, the lockout’s not stopping us from showing our team pride. In that case, I invite all Panther fans to join me in saying these three magic words….WE. SEE. RED!!!