Friday, December 9, 2016

IT AIN'T EASY BEING A FAN

This is not what I signed up for........



Last year when I made the decision to join up with the Cats I had witnessed a NY Ranger team get destroyed by the Penguins. The Panthers were wrapping up their best regular season and just missed getting to the second round as the Islanders beat them......but it was hotly contested. I felt as if it was time to finally jump on board with the up and coming Cats. It sure looks like I made a big mistake.

This season has been about as rough a season for a hockey club as I've witnessed. There were such great expectations......not just because of last season. It was also the new ownership proclaiming it's plan was to get a Cup. Yep, build on last years success and move up in the NHL to become a contender. Now I'm not saying the season is over but I am saying this has been tough to watch.

During my time in the mattress industry I learned to really dislike what I call Bean Counters. These were accountant dudes who could spin numbers and make it look like they knew what to do to increase business. It didn't take long for me to beat them at their own game and while I left leaving them to eventually win......I felt like I understood the mentality enough to know it was flawed. I bring this up because many are discussing the analytics that are behind the Panthers management.

12 different players were on the roster as compared to the guys who got it done last year. This was on purpose. A speed and finesse game based on stats were behind these roster moves. I'm told Coach Gallant was not pleased and he preferred a larger, meaner roster. He's now gone and the team does not appear to be better than last years team.

I can appreciate the stats behind analytics and believe them to be helpful. I also think it's not the end all be all when playing this great game of hockey. Hockey is and always will be a game of intimidation. It's part of what makes it so great. It's also what seems to be missing from this line up. The Panthers are not intimidating. It would be one thing if they were so fast and so skilled that that itself was intimidating other clubs. They are not......nor are they physically intimidating.

Look, this is not just a Panther issue.

Twenty years ago if a team was down 0-3 in the first you just knew someone on the losing side would start a fight to change the momentum and fire up his team. These days that doesn't happen often. The Panthers don't do it at all. The NHL has moved away from the more physical aspect of the sport as a league. I for one suggest this is a mistake. I offer up MMA and it's popularity as proof that American audiences do enjoy the rough and tumble as much if not more than the speed and skill of it's star athletes. The NFL ratings are down and while Kappernick kneeling during the anthem is a part of the ratings decline, the move away from big hits is also an issue.

I for one would be OK if the Panthers lost last night but at some point a Cat beat the daylights out of a Penguin. To just lay down and lose is unacceptable. So my point here is that Vinny Viola, the Panther owner has been convinced that analytics are the most important thing in deciding roster moves and how the team is built to play. I believe they went too far and forgot the basics of hockey. For instance, "dump & chase" on it's own is really just giving away possession of the puck. Dump, Chase and POUND meaning you hit hard the opposing defensemen in their own end after dumping it in IS an effective style of play. You intimidate the opposition into making mistakes and that gives you a chance to score.

Look, I may be wrong here. But I'm going to bet I'm not. Until the Cats get some meanness in their game they will continue to lose and management/ownership will continue to look bad. They already fired the coach.....what the hell can they do now? You can't fire the team......letting the coach/GM go now would be silly. They are in a tough spot. That puts us fans in a tough spot as well.

It ain't easy being a Panthers fan right now.  #CommitToTheCats is hard to post on twitter. Hang in there.....it'll get better. Some day.

No links today. You want to read about last night, find it yourself.

----}- Bird
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