But not only has this offseason been busy, it’s been productive. We are only a month and a half from Florida Panthers Opening Night 2011 when the new-look Cats host Sunshine State rival Tampa Bay on Oct. 15 at the BankAtlantic Center, and I don’t know a Panthers fan out there that isn’t counting down the days.
Thanks to the efforts of Dale, Assistant GM Mike Santos, and the entire hockey operations department, the 2011-12 Panthers will be one of the most exciting Cats teams we’ve ever had, particularly with the acquiring of original Panther Ed Jovanovski
, All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell
, goaltender Jose Theodore
, and talented forwards Kris Versteeg
, Scottie Upshall
and Tomas Fleischmann
to go with a returning core that includes Stephen Weiss
, David Booth, Dmitry Kulikov
, Jason Garrison
Those moves, which took place largely in a two-week span in late June and early July, made us the hottest sports story in South Florida, and helped to excite our fan base like never before – all the more reason to look forward to Opening Night.
But we still have a long way to go. This morning I spoke to our staff about making August the best August we’ve ever had, much like we did in June and July. Right now, we are focused on preparing for rookie camp and training camp in September, which includes the Second Annual Hockey Day In South Florida when the Panthers play a historic split squad doubleheader against the Nashville Predators on Monday, Sept. 19.
In addition, our sales department is focused on making sure that the BankAtlantic Center is filled to capacity for Opening Night – one of the most highly anticipated home openers in Panthers history. Not only will no less than 10 new players debut on Oct. 15, but the arena itself will have a completely different feel including the new red lower bowl seats (thanks to Zimmerman Advertising), and a few other wrinkles we have planned as well. It’s going to be quite an event in Sunrise, and you will not want to miss it.
In the interim our organization will continue to be active in the South Florida community. We have two major Florida Panthers Foundation events over the next two months – the South Florida Executive Fitness Challenge on Sept. 25 at the Saveology.com Iceplex in Coral Springs and the Face-Off Gala on Oct. 4 at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Ft. Lauderdale.
We are also continuing to push toward our $150,000 fundraising goal for the LLS Light The Night Walk on Nov. 12 at Huizenga Plaza in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. You can support the Panthers Walk Team by making a donation at this link
Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers Summer Blueprint Tour continues August 13 at Palm Beach Ice Works (3-6 p.m.) and August 20 Westin Regional Park (5-8 p.m.). All told, there’s no doubt we are one of the most community active organizations in professional sports.
On the entertainment side of the business, the BankAtlantic Center just completed one of the busiest months of July in building history including the incredible City of Sunrise 4th of July Celebration, packed concerts from Rihanna and Sade and 16 performances from Cirque du Soleil Alegria. Three Monster Jam shows in August and eight Disney On Ice performances in September will bring us right up to Hockey Day In South Florida and the first drop of the puck for the 2011-12 Florida Panthers.
It’s an exciting time to be part of this organization, and with even more news on the horizon make sure to follow me on Twitter at @PanthersYormark
Thanks for reading and go Panthers.