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Lots of people point to specific dates when talking about the building of excitement for the NHL season. Whether it’s the day training camp officially opens on Sept. 12, the date of the Cats first home preseason game on Sept. 23, or our first official regular season game as part of the NHL Premiere in Helsinki on Oct. 2, it’s easy for some people to look at a calendar and begin to count down.
But for me, the point at which I start to get really excited for the season is now, when many of our players start unofficial skates at incredible
ICE in Coral Springs, and the buzz for another year of Panthers hockey begins to build.
It was only Monday when players such as Cory Stillman, Nathan Horton, Tomas Vokoun and Jordan Leopold started skating at the spectacular new training facility at incredible
ICE, and already the market is responding.
Over the weekend the Miami Herald ran a front page story on Vokoun, CBS 4 featured head coach Pete DeBoer on their weekly Sunday Sports Show, and Stillman made one young South Florida fan’s day by surprising him during his Bar Mitzvah in Boca Raton. Then, just last night, DeBoer was again the talk of the town as he made television and radio appearances at the Florida Marlins game, while appearing on the field during the fifth inning to help them countdown to the opening of their new stadium. I’ll be making my own appearance at Land Shark Stadium on August 31 with Marlins President David Samson.
This weekend the Panthers will be all over the South Florida market again with appearances for a season ticket renewal function featuring Vokoun on Friday, and two Countdown Caravan stops at Woodfield Country Club and at Heron Bay Country Club. DeBoer is even in the office this week calling fans to get them excited for the upcoming season. Quite frankly, I believe our franchise can go toe-to-toe with any other pro sports team in America when it comes to community appearances and outreach, and this is just the beginning. Look for even more big feature stories in the Herald and the Sun Sentinel over the next few weeks, and one of our biggest events of the fall in the Panthers Foundation Face-Off Luncheon at the Signature Grand on Oct. 7.
But as exciting as it is for our guys to be back in South Florida, it has been equally as busy at the BankAtlantic Center lately, where we are just off hosting an incredible sold out performance by the Jonas Brothers, and are looking forward to another great show by the multi-talented Jamie Foxx on Saturday.
As it is our policy never to rest on our laurels, I am out in Los Angeles right now with SSE’s VP of Event Programming Sid Greenfeig working to secure more concerts and shows for the No. 3 ranked building in the US – the BankAtlantic Center. While I’m out here I’ll also be making some sales calls to potential sponsors and meeting with our wonderful partners at Fox Sports to talk about the broadcasts for the upcoming season.
In addition, having spoken to our game presentation department about the upcoming Bova Panthers Ice Dancers tryouts this Saturday at Broward Mall, they assure me that we are going to have our most talented and charismatic Ice Dancers team to date.
That said, one of our main priorities between now and Oct. 10 is selling out Opening Night against the New Jersey Devils. Our sales team is working hard and if you are looking for the best seats at the best prices – including the brand new Panthers Locker Room – call 954.835.PUCK now.
With our trip to Helsinki less than a month away, and training camp opening in just a few days, it’s difficult not to get excited about the 2009-10 Panthers season. But if you’re having trouble getting jacked up, it’s always nice to hear quotes like this from new players like Jordan Leopold:
“I’m really excited. All around, we have the tools to be a really successful team. We’re young, we definitely have firepower, we have goaltending, got defense…we got it all. It’s a matter of clicking on all cylinders, having some chemistry and anything can happen. As long as we stay positive and get off to a good start, we can work off that. It should be fun.”
Have a great week and go Panthers.