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Peeke's Points: Odds And Ends

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Panthers Blogger Cliff Peeke
Cliff Peeke, a Panther season ticket holder since Day One, is back blogging on for another season, giving the point of view on the Cats from a serious, die-hard fan’s perspective.

A Michigan native who’s played hockey (admittedly average at best) most of his life, Cliff grew up watching Red Wings games at the old Olympia Stadium. His allegiance changed to the Panthers the moment it was announced South Florida would have a team.

Cliff has played in adult leagues at IncredibleIce and his oldest son (age 25) plays there as well. His youngest son (age 9) is a member of the Jr. Panthers ’98 Squirt Travel Team.

Peeke's Points Archive

-  I wondered how fans would react to the Jokinen trade as this season moved along, and it’s really been a non-issue. Which proves that the trade was a success and both sides won.  Getting Ballard and Boynton in return was a great move, as we really do have one of the best defenses in the league. Did you see that check that Ballard dished out last night…just one of many throughout the season. As General Manager Jacques Martin had planned, other players have had to step up to replace Ollie’s points, and that’s been happening.

-  One such player that’s really emerged is David Booth. He is one of the most exciting players to watch in this league. His play last night was a perfect example…you had to be there.

-  Which brings up the question…where was the crowd? I expected something in the neighborhood of 16,000+, but it was a bit short of that. We played a good team (with a similar brand of hockey) that we’re battling for a playoff spot with and the local support could have been better. It’s not like there isn’t some good ticket deals out there. Then, we have to put up with the folks from Buffalo who extended their weekend vacation to include last night’s game as, once again, visiting fans feel quite comfortable being loud and boisterous in our arena.

-  And hopefully the Philly and Buffalo fans of recent nights did make the trip…because the thought of fans living down here and loudly cheering against the home team is sick. But what’s worse is the fan that wears their Panther jersey for every game EXCEPT the one where their “old team” arrives and they show up in a visitor jersey cheering against the Panthers. I never understand that.

-  Thankfully, we do have a very loyal and passionate season ticket base. Recent evidence of that is the attendance at the CATS CONNECTION meetings prior to the last five games. It’s another great reminder just how well the Panthers organization does in making us all feel a part of the “family”. Of course, these meetings are taking place very close to the renewal process kicking-off, but why not. If anything, they just reinforce what we already know…this organization’s client services and support just keeps getting better and better…and I always thought it was good to begin with.

-  As opposed to recent seasons when, at this point we are looking way up in the standings, this team is in the upper half of the league and playing good hockey. The Hockey News website even has us #14 in their recent Power Rankings. This season, all doubts have been removed…I’ve already committed to renewing. Finally, hockey operations have caught up to client services in the product being offered.

-  I keep hearing that “fans” want the shoot-out…but not fans that I know. And I’m not bringing this up because of our lack of success in that area. I hate to see a point awarded just to “have a winner”. I never liked the idea…heck…I’m fine with a tie at the end of regulation. This shootout is one of the NEW NHL ideas I can do without and I believe many others can as well.  Now…since we are struggling in the shootout, I like Lindsay/Moller’s suggestion (in their radio post-game) and that is to play over-aggressive in the overtime…maybe three forwards???

-  The other NEW NHL idea is to increase power play opportunities by calling ticky-tack penalties. The first penalty called against Bouwmeester last night is a perfect example. Let the boys play…there are too many stoppages for phantom calls. But it’s not just that…it’s the inconsistency that drives fans nuts. Refs can send Bouwmeester out for two minutes on a “slight touch” which is the same time Tampa’s Artyukhin gets for attempting to disassemble Peltonen’s leg a couple days ago.

-  And speaking of Tampa…what were your thoughts when you heard they claimed Cory Murphy? The first thing that came to my mind was Dan Boyle. Remember how Keenan thought so little of Boyle that he prompted the trade to Tampa for a late round pick…and there he blossomed? I’m not suggesting Murphy is of Boyle’s caliber…but it is eerily similar. So…first thing this morning I checked the box score from the Lightning/Star game last night and guess what? Murphy, who just arrived in Tampa a couple hours before the game, logs over 23 minutes of ice time and gets the number one assist on the winning goal. On the Lightning website, they even mentioned he “quarterbacked” the power play. Please…not again!!!!

-  Isn’t it great that every game now is huge? It is way too much fun going to the arena KNOWING we have a good and exciting hockey team. We’ve got to get two against Dallas.  There can’t possibly be Stars fans trying to escape the cold and vacationing here to take in a game after a day at the beach…we’ll see.

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