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G.M. Journal: Ready For The Stretch Run

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
A exclusive, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will be sharing his thoughts with Panthers and hockey fans throughout the year in his blog entitled G.M. Journal.


In many ways the sport of hockey mirrors the business of hockey. With 29 games left, your Panthers are in the stretch run of the 2011-12 NHL regular season. After last night’s 3-1 win over Los Angeles, we are 25-17-11 with 61 points and leading the Southeast Division (the third seed in the Eastern Conference).
That alone is something for all of us to be proud of. This organization has come a long way over the last 20 months and I’m passionate about what we’ve accomplished but even more excited about where we are headed. That said, the current playoff race is tight, with only a few points separating each team, and every game is going to be important from here on out.
Meanwhile, on the business side, it’s season ticket renewal time and I know our incredibly dedicated and passionate staff is working hard to bring in as many renewals as possible before the Feb. 13 deadline. The casual fan may not always see it, but the work our staff does is critical to the growth of this franchise. Frankly, we need our fans and their support to be successful.
The crowds have been incredible thus far this year, and I know based on the way renewals have gone so far, the BankAtlantic Center is going to be even more packed next year, and beyond.
Truth be told, there is a lot to be excited about with this franchise. We’ve got a long way to go this season to get this team back to the playoffs, but all the signs point in the right direction. Our Head Coach Kevin Dineen has us playing an aggressive, hard-nosed style, and we’ve battled through injuries and adversity all year long to put us in a position to make a run down the stretch.
We’re starting to get healthier with Jose Theodore back in the lineup and expected to play this weekend, and hopefully we can expect to see Ed Jovanovski back in game action over the next two weeks. Meanwhile, players like Marcel Goc and Sean Bergenheim have played well since returning from injury, while Stephen Weiss, Scott Clemmensen and Mike Weaver continue to be stalwarts both on and off the ice.

In addition, our younger players such as Erik Gudbranson and Shawn Matthias are playing hard and contributing almost every night.
That said, we need the support of our fans for every remaining home game to get over the hump and back to the playoffs. We’re 14-5-7 on home ice this season – one of the best home point totals in the NHL – and that’s due in no small part to the raucous support we’ve received from our fans.  
We will do our part by continuing to look for ways to improve our team during the stretch run. But I can tell you from experience, that nothing helps this team succeed more than a big and passionate crowd at the BankAtlantic Center on game night. That said, I know we can count on our fans both this year, and over the long term.
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