BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 25: Drew Stafford #21 of the Buffalo Sabres watches his shot hit the back of the net for a goal against Keaton Ellerby #4 and Tomas Vokoun #29 of the Florida Panthers at HSBC Arena on March 25, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo won 4-2. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
That the Florida Panthers would nail down a notorious record of futility - 10 straight seasons without a playoff appearance - was a generally foregone conclusion as far back as last June, when a real-life rebuild was declared by management, but in the big picture should be viewed for what it is: a dubious bit of throwaway trivia, darkly enjoyed by The Haters' refusal to acknowledge a brighter future is indeed on the distant horizon.
Friday's loss in Buffalo was only the latest affirmation of the Cats' involvement in a lengthy, ongoing process of trial-and-error, player auditions, and the weeding out of deadwood in the organization's ranks. It's not fun for management, nor is there any semblence of pleasure involved on the part of super-fans who've stuck by through an unprecedented stretch of reliably mediocre hockey constructed by seven GMs, directed on-ice by of an equal number of head coaches.
I'm not slamming the present, nor the strategies currently in place to ultimately turn the corner; only what led to such a dramatic, necessary teardown.
That said, we'll let the doubters, non-believers, and pro-relocation crowd have their day in the sun with news of the Panthers not having played in a "meaningful" game since a Terry Murray-led roster fell (in four, of course) to the eventual league champion New Jersey Devils in spring of 2000. Further, a very real possibility of the club dragging their futility record to an eleventh year is by no means off the table.
So enjoy the moment, oh ye of so little faith who find twisted amusement in such circumstances; we'll see you at the Draft.