Hello Panthers fans!
Hope everyone is safe and healthy as we all navigate these unprecedented times. With the "pause" in the Panthers and NHL season, we've all been forced to take a "step back" and reflect on where we were before March 12th and wonder what the future holds.
Good news over the last two weeks! With Panthers and NHL players entering phase one of a three phase "back to play" format, players are filing back to their respected teams, skating and training in small groups, and taking the mandated precautions set forth by League and health officials.
If all goes well, the League will then proceed to phase two, which will kick off with a formal training camp on July 10th, and eventually lead to the start of the "play-in" rounds, which will have our Cats face off in a best-of-five series against the New York Islanders.
Because of the fluid and changing scenarios, it is tough to pinpoint what it will look like viewing the games on FOX Sports Florida, or enjoy listening to the soothing voice of the popular Doug Plagens via radio and streaming.
But I can assure you, we will continue rolling out enhancements across our multimedia broadcasting efforts with new fan-friendly interactions, provide fun and informative commentary, and take you as close to the players and action as humanly possible. The newest technology continues to take our game to never-before-seen heights, and we plan on using every bit of it.
We are all excited about returning to the airwaves, and what degree of success Captain Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sergei Bobrovsky, and rest of the talented Florida Panthers could enjoy in chasing the ultimate goal of Lord Stanley's Cup.
Personally, for 'Ol Red Deer, this pause has reinforced my appreciation to be a part of the "Coolest Game on Ice," which I have never taken for granted. I, like our other broadcasters and Panthers staff, have kept semi-busy providing fans with hockey content during the pause.
Whether it has been through "best of" games on FOX Sports or 560 "The Joe", fan interactions on social media, and player/coach/management Zoom interviews, we have strived to keep your thirst for Panthers hockey satisfied throughout the pause.
Nominations have been continuing for first responder workers in our "Territory Teammates" program, which recognizes local heroes who have gone above and beyond keeping us all safe during this Covid-19 pandemic.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would go almost three months without putting on a pair of dress shoes, a belt, socks, or even my watch!
Like you, I can't wait for the lights of the arena, and the sounds: players skating, passing, shooting, crashing into their opponents and battling for the puck. Now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and Panthers hockey is in our future, all of our sacrifices and patience will have paid off.
Could this be the year for the Panthers? Do I have to wear a suit and tie?
See you at the rink…