Well, I am back! My apologies for not writing a blog over the past ten days; Needless to say, it’s been very busy around here.
Let me first start with the resignation of Jacques Martin. I am very happy for Jacques. Coaching is in his blood and the opportunity to get back behind the bench with the Montreal Canadiens – one of the most storied franchises in sports - was truly a dream job for him. I wish him only the best.
I do believe this provides the Panthers with a great opportunity as well. Our franchise is on the brink of turning the corner and it’s important for us to have a GM that is passionate about the position and one that is dedicated to getting us to the next level.
With that said, it has been absolutely amazing having Bill Torrey back in the office on a regular basis. His mere presence has energized our hockey operations department as well as the entire organization. He is working long days compiling his list of GM candidates. To date, he has received close to 100 inquiries for the position and has begun the interview process. I assume that it will take four to five weeks before we announce our new general manager.
In addition to leading our GM search, Bill is also working with Assistant GM Randy Sexton, Head Coach Peter DeBoer and Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Luce to prepare for the NHL Draft and free agent signing period. With these four guys working together, we will be in great shape.
I know many of you saw the media reports regarding our ownership last week and have sent me numerous emails. Our PR policy is that we don't respond to rumors. It’s business as usual and we are excited about moving our organization forward.
On the business side, things are very busy but we are making good progress. Season seat renewals continue to move forward. We have a Cats Cookout event on June 13 for both non-renewed and renewed season seat holders. If you don't have plans on Saturday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., please come by the BankAtlantic Center. We are serving FREE food and drinks.
Additionally, we are hosting a Draft Party at Carolina Ale House in Weston on June 26. This is a traditional event for us. We have the 14th pick in the draft so we should get a solid player. Please come and join us for food and drinks and cheer on your Panthers as they select what hopefully will be a future NHL All-Star.
Furthermore, our first Florida Panthers hockey camp starts on June 13 at incredible ICE. If any of your children are still undecided as to what to do this summer, enroll them in one of our weeklong camps. The instruction is great and there is not a better facility in South Florida to skate at. For more information, call 954-341-9956 or log on to www.incredibleice.com
Moving forward, I know many of you are wondering what we will do this month to make ourselves a better hockey club. Well, let me first say that we are committed to getting back into the playoffs and finally turning the corner as a franchise. We believe that many of the pieces are in place and without a doubt, we have the right coach leading the charge. Peter did a wonderful job last season and next year should be even better. Yes, there are areas that need to be improved but we did finish the season with the 13th best record in the league and we are still a very young club. Booth, Weiss, Horton, Ballard, Frolik, Campbell and Olesz are all 26 years old or younger, and should continue to improve. These players, combined with our veterans like McCabe, Allen, Vokoun, Stillman and others, are the core nucleus that can get us over the hump and back into the playoffs. GO PANTHERS GO!
The next four to five weeks will really shape our team for next season. It’s an exciting time and one that I hope will meet your expectations as a fan and loyal supporter of this franchise. On behalf of our entire organization, thank you for your continued passion, loyalty and commitment. I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events this month and throughout the summer.