Another excruciatingly long summer is over. Actual hockey games are on the horizon. Because this is the 265th most widely read hockey blog on the internets, MYFO felt a deep obligation to our dozens of readers to prepare this series of previews telling you about every single team in the NHL. By “prepare” we mean, we found other people to write many of them for us. We were looking for people who (unlike us) might have an actual clue about these teams, but were also eager/willing/dumb/not self-respecting enough to work for free. Within those constraints, we think we did an admirable job.
Today’s preview of YOUR Florida Panthers is brought to you by Deadspin legend, ladies man and dashing continental gentleman Jordan Bowes, aka Tattooed Messiah.
Before we get into it, let me indulge my inner Silky Johnston for a second and do some quality hating. Ahem…What can I say about this year’s Florida Panthers roster that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan? They’re bombed out and depleted!
There are fewer stars on this team than at the Comedy Central roast of Gallagher.
From the casual fan’s point of view, Jacques Martin made more questionable moves this off-season than most guys do at last call on Thirsty Thursdays.
Ah, that’s a little better. But down to business: after letting fan favorite and incredible goalie Roberto Luongo go through arbitration a couple of years ago, trading the other face of the team was not the wisest of decisions. While I’d like to believe most people down here understand that picking up two outstanding defensemen (Ballard and Boynton) is a solid move, they’re not exactly household names. At this point, the most well known person on the roster might just be Richard Zednik, and that’s only because the newly departed Olli Jokinen decided to use skates made by Hattori Hanzo last season. While there is a bunch of talent on this squad, only dedicated Cats fans or diehard puck heads are going to recognize lots of the names.
Living in South Florida, there are lots of constants. The winters are mild, the summers are hot, the women are beautiful, and no one gives a fuck about the sports teams…unless they’re winning. Therefore, the Panthers are taking the wrong page out of the Marlins playbook. They’ve now mastered the art of getting rid of fan favorites but missed the chapter on being successful while doing so. With the latest move of trading Mike Van Ryan for Bryan McCabe, it’s painfully obvious Jacques Martin felt a dire need to shore up the defense. Unfortunately, all of the defense in the world doesn’t help when your goalie whimpers like a Welshman after giving up his first goal of the night. Vokoun was a total sieve under pressure and we Panther fans only got to see glimpses of the man Keenan was so crazy about when he snagged Tomas from Nashville.
I’d talk about the forwards (and how it’s a good thing the defense is getting better because they aren’t going to have much of a lead to work with) but I wouldn’t want them to get used to have their names mentioned. Actually, that’s just most of them. The few real bright spots on this roster are Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton and, yes, Radek Dvorak. Horton has displayed flashes of brilliance in his few seasons in the league, but he really needs to step it up if he’s going to amount to the elite level player he’s been touted as.
Enough of picking on the players themselves, however. The real laughingstock is the team itself, who seem to have outsourced marketing to Bad Idea Jeans. The Panthers’ new slogan this year is ” Panthers hockey: it’ll do that to you”. It’ll do that to you…seriously? Driven to drink after yet another third period collapse? Panther’s hockey: it’ll do that to you. Threw the remote through your brand new HDTV? Panthers hockey: it’ll do that to you. Girlfriend broke up with you because of weird red bumps around your wedding tackle? Panthers hockey: it’ll…wait, no it won’t. Go see a doctor, you dirty sonofabitch.
All in all, it’s looking like another typical Florida Panthers season. The formula: look like Bambi learning how to walk for the first couple weeks, pick up the pace for a month or two, completely collapse around January and make a miracle run that falls just short of the playoffs and breaks my heart once again. Maybe, though, this will be the year that the pieces fall together and I can finally reconcile with my liver. That little bastard’s tough. One thing is for sure though: I’ll be watching and cheering my ass for this gritty group of grinders and hustlers that could only have been put together by a fan of cliches. Thanks for indulging me, and I’ll see you at the Broward County Civic Arena National Car Rental Center Office Depot Center Bank Atlantic Center.