Welcome Back Part 1:New Beginnings


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Everybody remembers where they were when they heard about the JFK assassination.  Well actually, not everybody.  I don’t remember.  I was nothing more than the beginning of an idea floating around in the ether of my parent’s conscious.  The point however is, we remember the moments in life that are truly impactful.  Occasionally we experience moments that cut us to the core of who we are and go a long way in shaping who we are to become. For example, I remember the first time I had a Quarter Pounder from McDonalds.  I remember sitting in my backyard tree-house and one of my buddies excitedly revealing to my friends and I that there was more to McDonalds than just Happy Meals and they in fact had a mystical thing known as a “grown up menu”.  This was huge news.  We immediately rounded up one of our parents for a trip to McDonalds were we all proceeded to order off the “grown up menu” thus beginning for me a torrid love affair with Quarter Pounders that is still just as passionate now as it was that fateful day. This for me was an impactful life shaping moment.  I am a different person today because of this moment and I still remember it vividly.

Hearing that the NHL owners and the NHLPA reached an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and thus effectively ending the lockout pending both sides ratifying the deal with a majority vote, was not one of those moments. For those of you who were expecting me to equate the lockout ending to the JFK assassination you can breathe a sigh of relief.  I promise not even I, a die-hard Florida Panthers fan, posses such a gross lack of prospective.

Hearing the news about the lockout ending comes nowhere close to hearing news regarding assassinations of our world leaders and it gets dwarfed by personal “first Quarter Pounder at McDonalds experiences.”  The news that we will in fact have an NHL season this year is big, but its probably closer to a “first time listening to Bob Dylan”, or “finding out The Sandlot is On-Demand” experience.  Both important moments in life with a certain amount of gravitas attached to them but moments that within a couple of months will be forgotten.  What will be remembered will be the results of these moments. We remember the lifetime of great musical experiences opened up by that first time listening to Bob Dylan and we revel in the ability to watch and re-watch the fourth-of-july-baseball-night-game-under-the-fireworks-while-Ray-Charles-plays-America-the-Beautiful-in-the-background scene whenever you are feeling nostalgic for the days when a simple “Mom I’m going out” was enough to get an entire day/night of freedom running around with your neighborhood friends.  And not to get too off-topic but c’mon, has there ever been a scene in a movie that better captures what it is like growing up in American Suburbia.  Anyway, hopefully we will remember the outstanding action packed NHL season and the many seasons of labor peace that follow this “end of lockout announcement” more than the “end of the lockout announcement” itself.

So in the pantheon of important moments in life, this announcement is less than a minor blip on our radars and probably not worthy of rehashing our personal experiences of said announcement.  That said, I am going to do it anyway.

Waiting tables at a restaurant is not the best place to receive important news.  Most restaurants ban their workers from having their phones on them so any news received come from overhearing patrons’ conversations.  I heard about the death of Steve Jobs only after one of my tables was talking about it while I was pouring their coffee. I did however get to break the news to the rest of the staff like I was Buster Olney at baseball’s winter meetings.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Naturally, I was working when the first rumblings about the lockout ending began. On Saturday night, I heard from a fellow server who heard from our bartender who heard from someone at the bar that the lockout had ended.  This news made me so excited that I dropped about five glasses of wine the rest of the night and I am still not sure if I will be welcomed back for my next shift, but what do I care, hockey is back! Or so I thought.

The first thing I did when I got home was I jumped directly on Twitter, because I am a product of the 21st century and that is where my generation receives all their news as sad as that sounds, and scoured the Twitterverse for relevant information.  Needless to say I went to bed a bit disappointed.  There was some positive talk but nothing concrete.

To bring a long, boring and pointless story to a close, I heard the good news the next morning, on Twitter of course, and spent the rest of the day misty eyed.  I still haven’t figure out if I was misty eyed because I was so emotionally overcome with the news that hockey would be back or if it was because I hit all four games of my four team teaser bet I made for wild-card weekend of the NFL playoffs.  When I was not thinking about taking baths in tubs filled with five-dollar bills, hey I work in a restaurant, I don’t have much gambling capital, two NHL related thoughts came to mind.  The first was the pure excitement I had regarding the upcoming Panthers season and how the bar down the street has the NHL package so I can watch Florida Panthers games all the way up here in New York. Finally my Florida Panthers fan hood will coincide with my quest to drink 100 beers in 100 nights and join the bar’s century club. The completion of this quest means I will get my name engraved on a plaque in the bar thus cementing my immortality in the highly irrelevant world of dive bar mug clubs.  My second thought was “Oh Sh*t I have to pump out some Florida Panthers writing ASAP!”

Before I get into more Panther specific posts, and trust me they will be coming, I wanted to take this time, and a little over 1,000 words, to introduce myself to all the Florida Panthers fans and readers of this site.  My name is Patrick McGrath and I am a 22 year old who has spent a lifetime rooting for the Panthers.  I am looking forward to providing you all with the best Florida Panthers content that you will find anywhere on the internet. I started writing for The Rat Trick back in December but admittedly, with no NHL and much of the news regarding the lockout being too frustrating to consistently endure, there was probably not much incentive to visit the site.  Well the season is back!  I am looking forward to going on an exciting journey with you, the reader; a journey that will hopefully be filled with excitement and wins.  We have tons of great content planned to gear everyone up for the start of the season!  I will be putting out Part 2 of my welcome back post tomorrow morning where I will be looking at the newcomers we can expect to see on this years team and the familiar faces who will be wearing unfamiliar jerseys when the puck finally drops.  I promise Part 2 will be a lot less narcissistic and will focus on the real reason you are reading this site, the Florida Panthers.