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VanMurph's View: Our House

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.

OUR HOUSE.  Those two words should conjure up feelings of family, comfort, security, and pride.  A “House” is not only a structure that shelters our possessions from the elements; allegorically, it’s any place where we seek refuge from world.

In your day-to-day life, there are many places you could figuratively consider to be your “house”: your automobile, cubicle, place of worship, or even the booth in which you sit for lunch. Wherever your “house” is, it should be free of other people’s negative influences and disrespect. No one should be allowed to come into your house and take away your sense of family, comfort, security, or pride.

So with that in mind, I ask why we, as a collective, have allowed a place where we all go for respite from our problems to be overrun by people who destroy our sense of comfort and pride? I’m talking, of course, about the BankAtlantic Center. And those “people” are the opposing team’s fans. Nowhere else in the NHL are the fans of the home team subjected to the type of invasion we suffer almost nightly. Sure, there are times when places like Dallas and Colorado see their fair share of Red Wings fans, but all things being equal, our house is the most abused in the NHL. Are you tired of it? Are you tired of wearing a Panthers jersey to a game and feeling like a visitor? Are you tired of seeing our team dispirited on the ice as literally thousands of people in OUR HOUSE go crazy after the visiting team scores a goal? Are you?

As I travel around the country attending NHL games, I invariably find myself envious of the one-sided energy and excitement that is almost palpable in other arenas. The enthusiasm found in most hockey venues makes the three-hour event so much more gratifying. If you’ve never been to a game in a place like Montreal, Philadelphia, Columbus or Buffalo, you owe it to yourself to put it on your list of “must-dos”. Once you’ve seen it for yourself, you’ll want to experience it again and again. Ok, I was kidding about Columbus.

I doubt there is a single Panthers fan who will say they are completely satisfied with the way things are vis-à-vis the Home Team atmosphere in our house. Well, if we’re dissatisfied, WE have to be the ones to take action. We, the fans, are going to have to grab the bull (or should I say, cow?) by the horns and lead the charge. If you’re not happy with the level of respect we receive in our own house, this is the time to get involved and start moving in the right direction toward reclaiming the BankAtlantic Center from the visiting teams’ fans. Now is the time to, among other things, cheer louder when our team does well, get the “Let’s Go Panthers” chant started (and keep it going), and stand on your feet and applaud when our hockey team is leaving the ice heading into intermissions (regardless of whether or not they’ve played up to your expectations during the period). If we show these guys we care, I am convinced it will affect their performance. No one wants to disappoint their supporters; be it Little Leaguers, or professional athletes. So let’s give our players more support and give them a reason to believe their maximum effort matters.

This Panthers team plays a different game than the Panthers teams of the recent past. This season promises to be an exciting 82 games of hard-hitting, gritty, forechecking hockey. There has really been no better time in the last few years to band together as Panthers fans and say, “enough is enough, we’re taking back OUR HOUSE”. It may take a little while to fight through the malaise we’re currently in, but with a little bit of luck, a few good wins, and a steady dose of courage, we can make our arena OURS again.

I’m open to suggestions on just what you think would be effective strategies to let the out-of-towners know they’re watching a game in OUR HOUSE, not theirs. I know that years of frustrations have built up, and you must have had some thoughts like, “Geez, I wish we could _________, that’d make a difference!” If so, send them to me and I’ll share them via this blog.  When your arena and fans need ideas in the worst way, no idea is too silly to share. I’ll also pass any suggestions on to the crew in Game Presentation. Their participation and assistance is crucial if we’re to be successful in taking back our house.

I’ve mentioned a couple of the things we should be doing, but for clarity’s sake, I’ll list them again here, along with some things I think would be effective in keeping the BankAtlantic Center lively, and the ambiance more like a home game should be:

-Cheer loudly for things that deserve recognition.  Things like:
    *Clearing the puck on a Penalty Kill
    *Killing a penalty
    *Amazing saves by our goalies (T-Vo and Andy DESERVE this)
    *Odd-man rushes toward the opponent’s net
    *Aggressive checks
    *Shots on goal
    *Prolonged scrums against the boards in the corners
    *Blocked shots
    *Power Plays (Start to Finish)
    *Forced turnovers inside the blue line on the forecheck
    *Overtime (it’s only 5 minutes, you can do it!)

-Stand and applaud the Panthers as they leave the ice heading into intermissions.

-When you hear someone start the “Let’s Go Panthers” chant, JOIN IN!

-After an opposing team scores a goal, start the “Let’s Go Panthers” chant, immediately!

-If you bring a cowbell, ring the heck out of it when you’re cheering.

-Don’t let the opposition’s fans get their stupid chants going. “GO CATS GO” or Let’s Go PANTHERS” works well to drown out the “Let’s go Flyers / Rangers” etc., and “Let’s Go Panthers” also works perfectly to drown out “Go Habs / Caps Go” and most others.  A good chant to counter all of them is simply “OUR HOUSE”.

My next statement may ruffle some feathers, but I feel it needs to be made. We play the National Anthems once before each game. Only once. I sing the Canadian Anthem as loudly and proudly as I sing the Star Spangled Banner. But as soon as the anthems are finished, I turn my attention to hockey. When the Montreal fans began singing their anthem late in the game last season, I was not happy about it. The Panthers were well behind on the scoreboard when the anthem began, which only compounded the frustration. It was like we were losing the hockey game and our sovereignty. Both on a patriotic level, and as a Panthers fan, I felt they were basically rubbing our noses in the loss. Can you imagine 8000 – 10,000 Red Wings fans singing our national anthem in the Bell Centre? Yeah, me neither. I suggest we all learn the first verse of “America the Beautiful”, or the chorus of “God Bless America” to counteract it next time. Again, just to be clear, I was angry only because I felt we were being taunted in defeat.

If it takes baby steps to start taking back our house, so be it. As Panthers fans, we obviously have patience and dedication, but we need to start the effort now. The opening night crowd proved it can be done. That slightly less-than sellout crowd kept the energy level up for most of the game, and we walked out of there with a lot of pride in our team, and two points.

Our players have repeatedly said they enjoy playing in front of a loud, full house… What do you think? Can we do it?

Just for grins, here are the lyrics to the two patriotic songs I mentioned:

America The Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

God Bless America

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.
God bless America, My home sweet home!

This is my 5th entry into the blog.  If you’ve had the time to read them and want to offer some feedback, or just drop a note to say Hi, I can be reached at:  

Thank you for stopping by. My next entry will most likely recap the Minnesota and NYI games coming up this Thursday and Saturday, unless something noteworthy comes up between now and then.

As a reminder, we’ll be in the Northeast parking lot before and after the games (with a full-on tailgate on Saturday at 5:00), so please feel free to come on over and chat with some really nice folks who’d like nothing more than to meet some new Panthers fans!

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