Sitting for ten minutes in the line for the Lexus club parking on Monday night was no fun at all. I sat there getting increasingly upset of having to wait and constantly time checking. Then my 16 month old looks up and sees the BAC (soon be the BBT) and starts saying, "Hockey." He cannot talk very much but from the few words and things that he is putting together hockey is one of them.
As we move into the arena we meet up with my cousins and their kids. All of them are dressed in their panther shirts along with jackets and asking me if "Jose" is going to play. Once again these are very young kids the oldest being five. All the tension that built up during the wait to get to gate have disappeared. As we walk to our seats I notice all the other parents with their children. Kids are every where, with their laughs, smiles and pure excitment for the game I couldnt help but smile myself. Then I think to myself, it's truly a blessing to see kids with parents coming out on a Monday night (Or any other night for that matter) to enjoy what I believe the be the greatest sport in the world in Sunrise.
I am a true believer in leaving a positive legacy behind for others to enjoy. From Brian Skrudland to Jonathan Huberdeau to all the fans, we have that rare opportunity to do so. Who ever would have though 20 years ago that we would have junior ice hockey players coming out of the area. With the realignment, I have seen many comments from others who say that this will lead up to the Florida teams moving up North. Apprently to some we are just some I am of a different opinion. I see it as new way to grow our market, not end it. We currently have a good roster with lots of great prospects. The product quality on the ice is drastically different to what we have been accustomed to you. What's even better the players are buying into making Sunrise a hockey town.
We have the ingredients to prove a lot of people wrong but that's not the point. The point of all this is to create something and then sustain it. Sure we take our lumps from bloggers, journalists and sometimes even local media by just being completely omitted during the sports segment. But no one ever said it would be easy. We've been at work at it for years. We've seen some dark times here but it's starting to change. Our kids aren't the fans of tomorrow but they are the fans of today. Thru good and bad we have stood beside this team now we are seeing some the fruit. The only move up that I see us doing is moving up the standings. The local media will eventually come around but we have to let our voices be heard. You know when your a fan when everyone at works knows when you've been to a game or seen one on TV the night before. They especially know when we've won. Lot's of folks that live here have never been to a game. This is a great opportunity to invite them to a game or even just to come over and watch one at home. All it takes is getting one new fan at a time. I feel as though I am running a networking marketing company whilst typing this but word of mouth is the best way to get people involved.
The Panthers will not only survive here in, but they will thrive.
Maybe the chatter will never stop that we don't belong but hey where would the Canadian fans see hockey when they are on vacation ;)