State of the Florida Panthers thru the eyes of a ticket holder

3-0 loss today to Calgary, following the 3-2 loss last night to the Black Hawks. Two teams from the west who are highly unlikely to make the playoffs. This leads me to the famous Dale Tallon blueprint. I’m sure there are framed copies of this blueprint hanging on the walls in the sales office, since it was sent to all of us ticketholders five or so years ago, when Dale Tallon came on board with his famous Chicago Black Hawk blueprint for Stanley Cup success.

Here we are, more than five years later, three coaches, expensive goaltenders, and a defense that couldn’t play on a good junior team, and once again staring at a playoff-free spring. The blueprint is brilliant, however, because Dale knows there’s no sense competing in the playoffs when it’s impossible for this organization to beat Washington, Tampa, or the Bruins. So you may as well shut down early in April, and he can go play golf, and the rest of the team can be distributed for positions on their respective World Championship rosters. What a concept! What is even more exciting is to learn that in order to participate in this fiasco next year, the Panthers are raising their ticket prices. I’m certain that will attract even more local fans, and the lines at the Box Office will be even longer than they were this year! Maybe the Panthers can be the first NHL team to have a virtual reality game. We can all sit in the parking lot and not even bother coming into the arena.

This coach is no better than the last coach, who was no better than the previous coach. The reason is that Mr. Tallon has been unable to provide the talent necessary to win. The Flyers have rebuilt and are contending. The Islanders have rebuilt and are contending. The Maple Leafs are contending. The Blue Jackets are contending, and the Panthers bought their goalie. Mr. Tallon has successfully been able to build a team to play in the NHL that has only two defensemen, both in their early 20s. The rest of that crew has little or no idea of what they should be doing, and worst of all, they are afraid to physically engage. Yandl, Stralman, and Mathieson could play an entire game with champagne flutes in their pants, and they wouldn’t break a glass. There were instances during the Black Hawk game when an opportunity to be physical and make a play presented itself, and these defensemen chose to stop short, make snow, and poke check. 

Next year’s team will be no better than this year’s team because the defense will be the same. The goaltending will be the same. There may be some juggling of third and fourth line veterans, but for the most part, the team will be the same. I still don’t know why the team unloaded Trocheck for “U-Haul” and three guys they sent to the minors. What a dramatic trade deadline move! It had no impact on improving the team whatsoever – none.

But the best part is that the Panthers think that stooges or customers or ticketholders like me are stupid enough to not only buy tickets for next year, but pay an increase in prices of almost 15%. For what? We know the outcome. I said to you earlier in the year that it would take 96 points to make the playoffs. They will not make it. It will take 96 points in 20-21, and I see nothing in this organization that leads me to believe that improvement is on the way.

By the way, would someone please tell the coaching staff to quit standing behind the bench with their hands in their pockets, playing with their marbles? Maybe they should be looking at their defensive zone and trying to figure out how to stop the points from shooting the puck and controlling play against our goalie.

Just a few thoughts from a ticket holder who has seen seven playoff games in 14 seasons. Please pass this along. Maybe someone in the organization will understand and appreciate that those of us who come to the games for more than free t-shirts, boring intermissions, and ludicrous activities on the big screen are frustrated and fed up.

Ron Cocquyt

Former USA Hockey Evaluator and Coach

Former Director of Hockey Operations IHL

Former Commissioner of the SEHL Jr. A

Former Asst. General Manager of the Detroit Falcons

Former Head Coach, Detroit Jr. Red Wings, NAHL

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