While I have been enjoying every moment of this season, I can not help but look forward to next season. I am not rushing this season to end in any way but I am looking forward to more relevancy at home games. There are far too many games when the arena feels like a library from our own fans and not a huge following from away team fans.
This past week has been amazing at the Bank Atlantic Center (though I have had to miss the past two) and South Florida is starting to buzz hockey again. It will take time for our fan base to build again but the new divisions will certainly assist with that along with winning. Gone will be the days of barely drawing against teams like Carolina, Atlanta(Though Winnipeg has been a great/annoying draw) and Islanders. Instead there will consistently be fierce rivalries between the Canadians, Leafs, and Bruins, at least from a fans perspective. While yes these games traditionally feature far too many fans from the opposing teams but it sure feels great when we send them home with a loss. It feels like this team feeds off of us and if there is a buzz among the clashing fan bases, the harder our boys play. In turn, the more we win, the more bandwagon fans will show, and hopefully the less we will see of the obnoxious and classless visiting fans like what was experienced by our Canadian fans up North booing our team. It will take time and individual effort to rebuild our once promising fan base but we (the franchise and fan base) are taking the right steps to doing that and building these rivalries will only help.
Consider the fan bases who will now be part of our division; Montreal, Toronto, Boston, Buffalo, Ottawa, and in-state rival Tampa(should be our smallest draw) compared to Tampa(second largest draw in the division), Atlanta(I am leaving out Winnipeg because they spurred the new divisions and would never be part of our division if not for the current circumstance), Washington(I will miss Ovi a ton), and Carolina. The draw for the new division will be significantly better and its a no lose situation. If we are winning then hopefully tickets will become much more scarce for visitors to invade our barn and if we are losing and the fair weather fans are not coming then we can at least secure our teams future with the attendance from the visitors. Oh by the way did I mention that more games will be TARP FREE!
One way or another the new divisions will only be a positive for the future of South Florida hockey. The Redvolution is growing and clashing with other fans is one of the best parts. I am looking forward to throwing many rats on the ice and sending plenty of visitors home for seasons to come.