As I sit back and simply stand amazed at this team, I can't help but feel left out. Here we are, sitting an amazing 2nd place in our conference and tied for fourth in the NHL yet we still don't have any real traction from the media. And I am not only talking about the NHL, TSN Canada, ESPN, or Sports Illustrated. We are just now getting to see our own local coverage pick up. It truly is sad that our town is so fair weathered. We won't start to see fans come in droves until it becomes the "IT" thing to do, much like Heat games were last year and the Dolphins a couple of seasons ago. Personally I don't care about how many "Panthers fans" show up, I am more concerned about how many opposing team fans show up. If the building only had 5,000 (I am sure management would freak out) but they were all Panthers fans I would be more happy than a 50/50 crowd and the arena be sold out. With that being said I am increasingly saddened by the lack of exposure the Panthers have down here. So as we are enjoying some much needed success, our seats should be filled and they are not. Why? Because people in South Florida have not caught on yet. So here is why you should care!
First off, we are the best team in the State of Florida! Go ahead, find a team that is currently better than us. I dare you too. The Dolphins are in the Suck for Luck Campaign. The Quarterback they almost ruined their future for was just waved. There is no shot at the playoffs, one more loss and they finish with at least 8. The Marlins finished Fourth in their division last year. The most exciting news about the Marlins is that they have new fruit loops inspired jerseys to open their new ball park. The Heat...Does anyone still care about basketball anymore? The Canes just made themselves bowl ineligible at 6-5. The Gators are struggling at 6-5. FSU is a whopping 7-4. UCF is 4-7. FIU 7-4. FAU 0-10.USF 5-5. Meanwhile the Florida Panthers are the only team that are playoff contenders and they are solid playoff contenders.
Secondly, this team is fun to watch. Not only are we working towards the playoffs but this team is in almost every single game, last night being the perfect example of that, and if we are not then we are fighting to the end. When I was interviewed for the Sun Sentinel I was raving about how this team has a never say die attitude night in and night out. Last nights game was exciting and showed how this team plays all heart but what I think of when I look at this teams resilience is the loss to Philadelphia. Why a loss? Simple. WIth 8 seconds left and down by two goals the team never gave up and Fleischmann scored a seemingly useless goal. Only it wasn't useless. It showed what this team is about. It showed that this team cares, cares about winning, not the golf course. This team plays every second of every game. Because of this we stand a chance in every single game, even if we are down 3-0 after the first period.
Thirdly, not only is this team playing playoff hockey and they are fun to watch but going to a game is more than affordable. Tickets start at $10 and parking is free. What team can boast that? I haven't gone to a Dolphins game since 2006 and it was super expensive. Tickets were North of $100 each and parking was another $25. Marlins games? $44 dollars for tickets plus $10 for parking. The worst ticket in the Bank Atlantic Center is far better than sitting all the way up in Right-Center field not able to identify the ball, much less the pitch.
Lastly, this team cares. Not just about winning, not just about each other, but about the fans. Opening night, after a spectacular win the team did something that was not expected. Instead of going off into the locker room, they went into center ice and saluted the fans. And the best part, it was not a one time ordeal. This goes on after every win. Why? because we care about them. We still throw rats (Talking about you Van Murph (-; ) after every win because we care. We care about this team and after years of players that seemingly didn't care about us, these guys do. They lined up for hours to sign autographs after practice to a group of fans that are far South of their normal demographic. That's because hundreds of fans showed up early on a Saturday morning to watch a boring practice but to us it wasn't boring. This is our team. This is our water cooler talk. As you can see it goes full circle. We care about them. They care about us. Together we are turning this town into a hockey town again.
After years of losing, years of bringing in high profiled players/coaches/GM's only to fail, the Florida Panthers faithful are finally being rewarded in every which way. The Redvolution started at the beginning of the season and there is still plenty of time to jump on the bandwagon. Lets paint this town Red, Panthers Red, until WE ALL SEE RED.