Tag Archives: florida panthers

NHL: Same Game, Different Season

by Brandon Busuttil

With the NHL season underway, a lot happened this off-season but all teams have the same goal: make the playoffs and win the almighty Stanley Cup. So, how have all those off-season moves and predictions been looking after the first few games into this NHL season.

I think it is important to start with the new overtime format. Instead of the 4-on-4 overtime format, that resulted in only 35% of games tied after regulation ending in overtime, and the rest of the 65% of tied games ending in a shootout; the NHL has decided to move to a 3-on-3, 5-minute overtime format followed by a shootout. Overtime periods just got a lot more exciting. With a lot of ice and some of the most talented NHL players in that open space, you can expect a lot more overtime goals, and that is exactly what happened. The excitement about a game going into overtime has gone way up, and now has fans watching with large rushes of adrenaline. The NHL definitely got it right with this overtime format change.

Mike Babcock has moved on from the Detroit Red Wings to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It can easily be determined Babcock gave up success with the Red Wings for a lot more money and a much bigger challenge. The Detroit Red Wings is one of the most renowned teams in the NHL making the playoffs 24 years in a row. Now with a rookie head coach, Jeff Blashill, can the Red Wings keep it up or will they crumble? With the amount of talent Detroit has, along with the fact Blashill coached the AHL affiliate team of the Red Wings the Grand Rapids Griffins to a Calder Cup trophy (much of those players he coached are now playing for the Red Wings), I think the team will be in good hands. Blashill follows a system very similar to Babcock, and if it is truly similar to Babcocks, that means the team will stay successful. So far into the season it has been proven that the Red Wings are exactly where they left off with Babcock, continuing to be successful with two goaltenders whom are good enough to both be starting.

The Toronto Maple Leafs on the other hand, are still struggling. To put this team in perspective, their first line players would be on a third line at any decent NHL team. It will be interesting to see what Mike Babcock can do with this team, but I would not expect a quick fix. Babcock has been signed to a 8 year deal to see if he can be the magician to change this Leafs team around, and it is predicted that it will take a long two or possibly three seasons until we hear of the Maple Leafs making noise in the NHL. This has proven true because the Leafs have continued their losing woes in this 2015-2016 NHL season.

The last big story-line that is looked at is: what is the deal with the Chicago Blackhawks? Coming off of a Stanley Cup championship, can Chicago do it again? Unlikely. They lost some key players due to free agency and trades, but they will still be a force to be reckoned with considering their star players that have stayed are going to make up for the lack of those whom left.

Overall, it should be a great and interesting season this year, filled with some great goaltenders all looking to make a name for themselves and some trying to keep their name as one of the best in the game right now. We have top-notch rookies such as Connor McDavid, whom is compared to Sidney Crosby when he entered the league. Lastly, we have teams that could make a push to be a force this year such as the Florida Panthers, whom have come out this year with a lot of determination and force.

Look for an exciting year of hockey, and one that will probably be filled with the unexpected.

 

Calling All Goalies: Florida Panthers Looking for Practice Goalie

By Ellen Chlumecky

March 10, 2015

On Thursday, March 5, the Florida Panthers announced that they will be holding open tryouts for any goalies or even fans to be hired as their practice goalie for one day. This whole experience is a contest proposed by the Panthers. The Panthers executive chairman Peter Luukko is hopeful the contest expects a great turnout for such an amazing ultimate fan experience. Successful applicants will invited to a tryout on March 16th. Two finalists will then go head-to-head during an intermission of Florida’s game against Montreal on March 17th. The winner will then get a contract.

This is a dream come true for any aspiring goalie that never got the opportunity to make it to the big leagues or even a fan whose dream is to experience what it’s like to play in the NHL. So what inspired this somewhat unusual contest? If you weren’t watching the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs game, you might have some insight on what inspired the contest.

During the game, both Panthers’ goalies – Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya – suffered injuries. Not having another backup goalie, the goalie coach for the Panthers had to quickly suit up to serve as the backup. Robert Tallas last played against the New York Rangers in 2001.

In the first period, Luongo was injured by a shot from Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov. He stayed in a game till the end of the period. Then he was replaced by Al Montoya. Early on in the second, Montoya gets injured as well. This meant that the Panthers were without a healthy goalie.

It was believed that Derek MacKenzie and Scottie Upshall might dress as emergency goalies as they both went down the tunnel to the locker room while Montoya was struggling on the ice. Luongo was also seen in the tunnel in street clothes as they were trying to figure out who was going to be put in. However, the person who ended up suiting up was Tallas. Two years prior he was put in the same situation so it was not too unusual to ask of him.

At the end of the day, Montoya attempted to play through his injury until Luongo suited up again to finish the game. The team was trying to get Tallas cleared by the NHL to play in the game but during this process, they realized that Luongo would just have to finish off the game.

It’s unfortunate that a hectic and panic-inducing event had to occur for the Panthers, especially since they ended up losing 3-2 in spite of the situation. In the end, they got a great promotional deal out of the event. So I guess it’s about looking at the glass half full, right?

Florida Panthers Struggling to Attract Fans

By Alex O’Connor

Attendance at Florida Panthers games is once again becoming an issue for their organization. Last night, just 7,311 fans came out to see a 1-0 loss against the Ottawa Senators. The Panthers dropped to 0-2-1 on the season and are now under scrutiny not only for their product on the ice, but the lack of hockey interest in southern Florida. NBCsports.com focused specifically on Florida goalie Roberto Luongo, noting that he has played for packed houses with the Vancouver Canucks on a regular basis. In addition, The Miami Herald interviewed Luongo after the loss and he plainly said, “If we want to get some people in the stands, we need to start winning some games.” However, Luongo added that “He doesn’t pay attention to that stuff”, so it may or may not have a large effect on the team’s performance as a whole. Through the media’s attention on attendance and the team’s’ poor performance, the Panthers could be in for a tumultuous season that may put doubts in the minds of many who believe they will be in Florida for an extended period of time.

Social media also had a profound impact on the reach of this story. Numerous accredited sport commentators, writers and analysts were tweeting pictures of the empty stands from their vantage point. The pictures are stunning, as there are almost hundreds of seats open among each section. The most notable picture came from Bruce Garrioch, an award-winning sport journalist from the Ottawa Sun who tweeted a picture of the crowd at game time. The post has almost four hundred re-tweets and was one of many to point out the low attendance.

Another aspect that is hurting the Panthers organization is their lack of incoming revenue from ticket sales. On September, 17th of this year, an NBCsports.com article was published that pointed out the financial woes that the franchise was in. The title was “Panthers owners say they’re committed even though team has lost ‘tremendous amounts of money.'” These losses are between $20-$30 million annually, and are losses that they have asked Broward County in Florida to cover. This is an expense that will not be easily fixed and could loom over the organization for many more years. However, new owners Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu wrote a “vote of confidence” letter to Panthers fans in mid-September. In the letter they highlighted the acquisition of star goalie Roberto Luongo and how moves like this one is their commitment to the Panthers producing a Stanley Cup caliber team. Though this is encouraging that the owners are on board, they may need to find another avenue in which fans can once again become excited about their organization.