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Winning A Trip To Vegas

by Joseph Beguiristain / Florida Panthers

When 24-year-old Panthers fan Kathryn Simmons received an e-mail saying she had won a sweepstakes for a trip for two to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas she couldn’t believe it…literally.

“I actually thought it was a spam thing [and] I didn’t think it was real at first,” explained Simmons, who was one of 30 winners (one representing each team) to receive such honors. “They sent me an e-mail, I returned the e-mail back and then I received a call from a lady in Ontario (from the league confirming I won).”

Simmons, from Weston, noticed the sweepstakes on the Florida Panthers website and wanted to enter not because of the allure of Vegas, but because of the annual NHL awards given out to the best of the best in various categories including the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP), Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman) and Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender).

“This is the first time [I’m going to Vegas],” she said. “[I’m looking forward to] seeing all the players and the award ceremony.”

Accompanying Simmons will be her husband, Jarrod, who will be making special arrangements to attend.

Like most Panther fans, Simmons is pleased with the job Dale Tallon has done at the helm of the Florida Panthers thus far. The Panthers GM turned around a franchise with several trades and signings that allowed the team to capture their first division championship in franchise history. Also, one of Simmons’ favorite players is Brian Campbell so of course she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend the ceremony. Both Tallon and Campbell are finalists for awards at the ceremony.

Tallon is a finalist for the Executive of the Year award and Campbell is a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy, which is awarded to the player who shows the most sportsmanship while still playing at a high level.

Simmons likes their chances on June 20th in the Encore Theater at Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas (7pm ET on NBC Sports Network).

“I think they have a really good chance [to win] especially (with the team) making such a huge turnaround,” said Simmons. “…because we went from hardly winning to now in the Playoffs.”

Nine years ago, Simmons and her parents went to a few Panthers games and they enjoyed it. They liked it so much that her parents became season ticket holders. Ever since then, they have been regulars at Florida Panthers home games.

Getting to watch the Panthers at home at the BankAtlantic Center is one thing but seeing a couple of them as well as other NHLers in a different setting is something differently. Simmons will be flying JetBlue (much to her delight) and will arrive in Vegas one day before the awards with her husband.

Speaking of the special arrangements, Simmons’ husband is a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and is stationed in North Carolina. He is specifically taking leave from the Marines just so he can go with her to the awards.  

That kind of fanfare is what sports is all about. Jarrod Simmons fights for our country every day so that others can play a game professionally. Hopefully Tallon and Campbell can return the favor for the two dedicated Panthers fans, even if just by a little bit.

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