On the ice, I want to express my highest appreciation to our players and our coaching staff, led by head coach Pete DeBoer, who have put themselves in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race, despite the adversity of a slow start, injuries to key players such as David Booth and Cory Stillman, and the daily rigors of a condensed NHL schedule.
Anyone that has watched our team over the last few weeks, has to admire the way many of our players have stepped to the forefront, and made it their personal responsibility to lead this team to success.
Start with Captain Bryan McCabe, who not only leads our defensive corps in points, but is a vocal force in the locker room, and was the one who stepped up and fought Flyers captain Mike Richards, when his hit on David Booth in October demanded a response.
And how about Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss
? Since both these players were drafted earlier this decade, Panthers fans have been waiting for them to meet their enormous potential. With a combined 31 goals and 74 points through 39 games, I think it’s safe to say that both Weiss and Horton are starting to meet those expectations.
Panthers fans also have to be excited about the play of goalie Tomas Vokoun (.922 save percentage), second-year forward Michael Frolik (11-12-23), and a deep defense that includes Keith Ballard, Jordan Leopold and Dennis Seidenberg.
Off the ice things may not be as visible to outside observers, but I am extremely excited about the many initiatives that SSE ownership, executives and staff are beginning to implement that will ensure long-term, sustainable success for this franchise.
Since the time of our last blog from Co-Managing Partner Stu Siegel, we have had the opportunity to sit down with many of our most passionate fans during a town hall meeting at the BankAtlantic Center. During that meeting, we reaffirmed our new corporate tagline – Accountability. Accessibility. Winning Culture. – while also unveiling our new “Pledge” and “Contract With The Community.”
But probably the most important thing that I personally took out of our most recent experiences was the feedback – both positive and negative – that we received from our fans and supporters. Both Stu and I were very grateful for the outpouring of support and the great fan interest and responses we received when we greeted our fans on those two holiday gamenights.
It was an eye-opening experience, not only because of the passion and the excitement that our fans showed – the same passion I see when I walk the lower bowl on gamenight – but also because of the very specific wants and suggestions that they expressed. We take that feedback to heart, and it is on our minds every day when we discuss, and make decisions about the best way to move this franchise forward.
But for now, I believe this day is best used for reflection on recent times, and a quick glance forward to an exciting future. I sincerely believe that there are wonderful days ahead for this franchise in 2010, and beyond, and I truly hope that you share the same vision.
Thank you for reading, have a wonderful holiday and New Year, and go Panthers!