Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Panthers latest miracle worker

"I wasn't the best player in my small town, wasn't the best player on my junior team, and I wasn't good enough to play in the NHL," he said. "I've spent 12 years in the junior Canadian league riding the bus, staying in bad hotels trying to get the opportunity to coach in the NHL. My excitement level is very high, and I'm hopeful that's contagious with the players and our fans in Florida."
"I'm so excited about this job, I'm writing down line combinations in the middle of the night."
Quotes from a really nice feature on the weekend by the Miami Herald's George Richards.

The fans still left in South Florida are incredibly skeptical, not just of DeBoer, but of all things Panthers. In a lot of ways, that's justified.

Fifteen years after their inaugural season, this remains one of the worst franchises in NHL history, a team that last won a playoff round 12 years ago during an unlikely charge to the finals. Florida hasn't made the playoffs (or come very close to doing so) in eight years.

After 14 seasons, the Panthers have never won a division title. Only Phoenix, Nashville and Columbus are also in that group. Florida's made the playoffs just three times in its existence, better than only Atlanta and Columbus, teams with six and seven fewer seasons in the league.

All of that said, this is a team that, in 2008-09, has some good things going for it. The Panthers have a top-notch netminder (Tomas Vokoun), excellent youth up front (Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, David Booth and Rostislav Olesz) and a few studs on the back end (Jay Bouwmeester and Keith Ballard). They're good on the power play and at generating shots on goal, but Vokoun is shelled on far too many nights.

Florida had a horrific run of injuries last season and was still only nine points shy of a division title. They've replaced captain Olli Jokinen with free agent Cory Stillman and two new bodies on defence, and I expect them to move a blueliner for more help up front once Bouwmeester has re-signed.

This might finally be their year.
"This is a dream come true," DeBoer said, sitting in an Adirondack chair in a backyard that won't be his for much longer. "I like challenges. I see this as a challenge to make a difference."
It's certainly that.
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13 Comments:

At 1:54 AM, July 23, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your top line includes Weiss and Olesz, even Anne Bancroft cannot help your team.

 
At 7:32 AM, July 23, 2008, Anonymous Whale4ever said...

Well said, Doc. Can't wait to see what the likes of Matthias, Frolik, Repik, etc. bring to the club if given the chance.

 
At 8:19 AM, July 23, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) All the positive things you wrote about the cats could have been written the last few years, yet they still seem able to underachieve every year. Should also mention they traded their best player and their best defensemen is yet to be resigned(and indication are he's unhappy in Fla.)
2) Every year they get off to a dreadful start, have injuries and put it together in the last 2 months to make a run at the post season only to fall short. Can't see any reason to alter that as our prediction for south Florida once again.

 
At 8:24 AM, July 23, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2) Every year they get off to a dreadful start, have injuries and put it together in the last 2 months to make a run at the post season only to fall short. Can't see any reason to alter that as our prediction for south Florida once again.

I wonder how much of that is the road-game-heavy early schedule. I read that the organization prefers it that way because then most of their home games are later in the season, after fans have come south for the winter, and that way they have better attendance. Are they shooting themselves in the foot in the standings in an attempt to maximize revenues?

 
At 9:23 AM, July 23, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Anonymous: Good point until we looked at last years schedule. The panthers played as many home games October-January as they did January-April. So they can't use that excuse.
2) With the more balenced schedule this next season they'll likely be doing MORE travel than before

 
At 10:21 AM, July 23, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It starts at the top. They have an owner who hires and fires and re-hires. He talks to players behind coaches and GMs back.

Murray, Dudley, Keenan, Martin... Jovanovski, Luongo, Jokinen, Boyle and soon Bouwmeester are traded (yes, I know that they got Luongo and Jokinen in a great trade with... Mike Milbury;).

One problem is their late surge every year. They're drafting fairly high but by stinking all season they could've gotten "Pittsburgh lucky".

Panthers aren't really from anywhere. They started in Miami and now they play in Sunrise. Their market is bunch of suburbs strung together.

I know that there's other "state teams" in Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild but they still play in real city - Denver and St.Paul (with Minneapolis right there).

Get this organisation to Hamilton, Quebec, Winnipeg or Kitchener/Waterloo and it would be healthy financially. Then hire a somebody who doesn't want to coach as their GM and go from there.

 
At 10:34 AM, July 23, 2008, Blogger wade little said...

A coach with a some piss and vinegar - I like it.

 
At 11:48 AM, July 23, 2008, Anonymous Whale4ever said...

The "organization would be healthier financially" in Sunrise if IT WON CONSISTENTLY.

It would be most pleasant if folks would take that into consideration, instead of going the tired "bad market, blame the locals for no support, move 'em north of the border" route. It's so old.

Give the Cats three winning seasons with one playoff appearance in each, under the current management team; THEN judge the market based on attendance.

Their was a significant buzz in South Florida last season about the club, even in northern Palm Beach County. People were talking right up to the final game about something other than football.

Throw the playoffs in the mix and the crowds will come. Management of the team is quickly becoming solid and consistent, and who doesn't love DeBoer's youth and optimism?

Will it win games? Maybe, but folks are actually looking forward to next season, even following the "loss" of His Highness Jokinen. I'm stoked.

 
At 4:03 PM, July 23, 2008, Blogger The Gate To The Groin For Yannick Bertrand said...

Get this organisation to Hamilton, Quebec, Winnipeg or Kitchener/Waterloo

So...you're kidding right?

 
At 4:22 PM, July 23, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would I be kidding? If Sunrise has 80.000 baseball loving Americans and Kitchener 250.000 hockey loving Canadians I don't see a problem here.

Kitchener-Waterloo has 450.000 people and you don't thing 20.000 of those wouldn't come to the games 41 times a year?

Plus Maple Leafs can only take one Air Canada full of people at the time and there might be one or two families that would even drive as far as Kitchener to watch a live NHL game.

They could sell 30-40.000 tix so where does the kidding come into play?

 
At 4:34 PM, July 23, 2008, Blogger Chemmy said...

The Leafs might never make the playoffs again and they'll still sell out every game until I die. Nashville and Florida should be on death watch to be moved to K-W in a normal world.

 
At 7:19 PM, July 23, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This give me a winner and we'll prove we're hockey market crap is so funny it doesn't make me laugh.

If that was the criteria any league in the world would be in big trouble. Why?

Because in a league there's always teams that finish last, second last etc. It's mathematically proven.

I can say for 100 percent certainty that next season there will be teams in first through 15th place in both conferences.

If Toronto is in 15th place at the end of the season I will predict that they will still sell out. That's hockey market.

If they're winning they sell out everything form tickets to baby bottles with Leafs logo in them.

Toronto and Canada are a great hockey markets, but there's several good hockey markets in US, too.

Sunrise is not one of them. Neither is Nashville where they have even seen playoff hockey lately.

But congratulations for getting healthy in dressing room by getting rid of your canc, er, captain.

 
At 9:10 PM, July 23, 2008, Blogger The Gate To The Groin For Yannick Bertrand said...

Why would I be kidding?

Because the Leafs could field a team of autistic puppies (already are - zing!) and we won't see another city in Ontario - other than maybe Hamilton - be awarded a franchise.

 

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