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VanMurph's View: First Blog

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Murphy and Vanessa Burch
In just another attempt to bring the fans closer to the team and vice versa, would like to introduce our newest fan blogger, Murphy Burch. Joining YourBlog's Cliff Peeke, Murphy will be writing about his view's on the Panthers for this season.

Murphy, an airline pilot originally from North Carolina, is better known as vanmurph on the Panthers message boards and he, along with his wife Vanessa are two of the most vociferous fans at the BankAtlantic Center.

When I received the phone call from the Panthers organization with a request to begin submitting a Fan Blog, I was excited about the opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions with friends and fellow fans. However, other than on message boards, I’ve never written for public consumption, so I hope you’ll bear with me as I feel my way through the process.  

While I’m happy to begin writing my first blog, I’ll admit right up front that my view of the Panthers will NOT be objective. I’m a homer of the first order, and I love this team unconditionally, win or lose. Now, that’s not to say that winning isn’t important to me, it is. But no matter the situation, I tend to see things related to the Panthers in a positive light. Even when they take one on the chin, I try not to dwell on it, but look forward to the next game as an opportunity for redemption. So if you’re looking for a non-biased view of the team, this won’t be the blog for you. When it relates to the Panthers, I’m as biased as they come. I don’t like to see bitter things written about my team, and I’m sure many of you get as frustrated as I do each and every time you read a negative article about the Panthers. So rest assured, if you need some sunshine in your Panthers World, you may find this blog to be worthwhile reading. 

Since this is my first entry, I’ll take a couple of minutes to introduce myself. My name is Murphy Burch. I’m a married, 39 year-old, average height and weight guy from Hickory, NC. I grew up playing competitive baseball and football, but unfortunately, I wasn’t introduced to hockey until much later in my life. However, when the hockey bug finally bit me, he used ALL of his teeth…  From the moment I watched my first NHL game, I was addicted!

My wife, Vanessa, is an absolute saint from Muscatine, IA (and I’m not just saying that because she’s sitting here reading over my shoulder). In our 16 years together, I’ve never met anyone with a heart as big as hers. She always thinks of others before herself, and she’s generous to a fault. She’s my best friend and I’m proud to be referred to as “Vanessa’s Husband” by all of our friends and family.

In our professional lives, we are both Flight Crew members for American Airlines. Vanessa is a domestic Flight Attendant, and I am a Pilot on the 757 / 767.  We live in Cooper City and we share our house with our 3 cats; Maggie, Amanda, and Eddie (I guess it’d be a little more accurate to say that they share THEIR house with us).

Like many of you, Vanessa and I live our lives around the Panthers’ schedule. We decide which flights we’ll work based on the upcoming month’s home games, and once the work schedule is set, we see how many days off we have that coincide with the Panthers’ road games. If time and scheduling permit, we hop a flight to watch our guys play in enemy territory.  Between the two of us, we attended 17 of the Panthers road games in 2007-2008. This year, we hope to be able to make it to at least that many. 

Some of you may recognize my face from one of the recent Florida Panthers commercials.  Early in the summer I was asked if I would participate in this year’s advertising campaign, which would be shot in August. I was hesitant at first, but when they told me I’d get my own make-up artist and that I could be referred to as “the Talent”, I accepted without further ado!

There were a total of four commercials shot that evening: The one featuring the Koch Family, another featuring Lisa Ritota, one featuring the 6-pack (abs) of Vic Genchi, and the one featuring me. As a die-hard fan of the Panthers, any trip to the Bank Atlantic Center is special.  Whether it’s to see a game, watch a concert, visit friends, or to meet with my Sales Representative (Nicole Gruschow), I get excited every time I pull into the parking lot. So to walk into our arena during the late summer and see 60-70 screaming Panthers fans in full game-garb was a truly wonderful experience. By the end of the filming I was as hoarse as I am after an exciting hockey game! 

As the ads began to run locally, I started receiving calls from friends and family saying “Hey, I saw you on TV.” I’ll admit, seeing myself ringing a cowbell with my mouth fully agape was pretty humbling, but not nearly as humbling as the reaction I got from my lovely wife the first time we saw the commercial during the channel 7 News… “Wow, your nose looks HUGE!”

Before I close this first entry, I’d like to talk a little hockey. Over the past few weeks I’ve had the good fortune to attend a few of the Panthers’ practices up at incredible ICE in Coral Springs.  Having an opportunity to see Coach DeBoer run this team through drills was an absolute pleasure! There is no doubt as to why he has had success on every level at which he’s coached. His enthusiasm during the practices was contagious, and I was immediately impressed by his work ethic and grasp of the reins during the 90-minute sessions. It was crystal clear who was in charge on the ice. Also evident was the attention the players were paying to detail. After a drill, coach DeBoer would have the team gathered around the whiteboard at the scorer’s table and ALL eyes were affixed to the tip of his pen as he laid out the next activity. I’ve been a fan of Coach DeBoer’s from the moment I did my first Google Search on him immediately after his signing. I like the direction in which Jacques Martin went when he decided to give Pete his first shot at the NHL. We have a young team, with a deep talent pool in Rochester. What better person to have behind the bench than a guy who’s been successful with young players his whole career?

By the way, at the Bank Atlantic Center, Vanessa and I sit in Section 118, Row 16, seats 3 and 4. That’s where you’ll find us at every Panthers Home game, so please feel free to stop by and introduce yourself!

In my next entry I’ll discuss the genesis of the “Cowbell Movement” at the Panthers games, and I’ll recount some of the excitement from the 6-0 trouncing of the New York Islanders in the pre-season finale last Monday night. 

Thanks for stopping by!
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