In my opinion, the letter was a candid and honest approach to the accessibility that we promised when Cliff and I were introduced as Managing Partners of this franchise back in November.
At that time, we said that we would communicate with all of our constituents whenever possible, and give them insight into the plans and reasoning behind all of our initiatives. We have followed through on that commitment in a number of ways including blogs like this one, a pair of town hall meetings, my Twitter presence (@StuSiegel)
, and most recently, last week’s letter.
We also made it clear back in November that, as an organization, we were going to be accountable for our results both on and off the ice. I believe that last week’s letter displayed our commitment of accountability. In that letter, we were clear that we have very specific goals for this franchise. We want to qualify for the postseason on an annual basis, maintain a level of sustainable success, put a product on the ice that we can all be proud of, and compete for a Stanley Cup sometime in the near future.
That’s what we as owners want, and that’s what our fans and supporters want. But as of yet, that has not been delivered by us. In our planning sessions with General Manager Randy Sexton and Head Coach Pete DeBoer, it’s clear that changes are needed in order to achieve our goals.
Since we sent the letter, and published it on FloridaPanthers.com, the response has been tremendous. Of course, like anything we do in professional sports, there will always be supporters and naysayers. But an overwhelming number of our fans expressed both relief and excitement that we are unwilling to stand pat and accept the norm. Even more than we could have imagined, our fans spoke out in favor of action, in favor of change. What is even more clear to us is that our supporters want to build something special here in South Florida. They don’t just want a team that will finally break the spell and make its first playoff appearance since the year 2000, but rather a team that can become a consistent winner.
As I said back in November when introduced as the new CEO of the Panthers, my ultimate goal is to hoist the Stanley Cup over my head. That said, I feel compelled to reiterate that setting this team up to achieve the goals that we want is a multi-step process that will take us through the trade deadline, the draft, free agency, and next season’s training camp. For that reason, I will once again ask that you assess the job we have done only after this process has run its course. Situations such as these are not always easy.
During our second town hall meeting with fans two weeks ago, the comments were as passionate as they were varied. Not everyone can agree on everything, that much is clear. Not everyone will agree on contracts that are signed, moves that are made, what players play where, etc. But what is clear is that we are all united as Panthers fans. We are all eager to show people the passion and the dedication that exists for hockey in South Florida. We all desperately want success for this franchise. And one thing that should not be questioned, is our willingness to work hard and make tough decisions to achieve that success.