After the sour taste of the labor negotiations and standoffs for months during the NHL Lockout, it was a great relief to know that a season would be happening. For the Florida Panthers it was easy to get excited following a surprising playoff run that landed the team's first division title and ended the twelve year playoff drought. Most of the roster from 2012 returned with the team adding some free agents and Jonathan Huberdeau from juniors. But the lockout and the curveballs that a shortened season throws at you would upend the Cats hopes of returning to the playoffs once more.
After an opening night victory the Florida Panthers quickly fell out of the playoff race with several massive losing streaks to start the 1st half of the season. During that time the team's core players began going down with injuries making the Panthers rely on call ups from the AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage. The Rampage are much the same as the Panthers in that they are a team with some core older players and are now starting to see the influx of prospects enter their roster. These prospects are not developed yet though and that led to the Panthers not being able to stop the bleeding. Eventually injured veterans such as Stephen Weiss, Jode Theodore & captain Ed Jovanovski would have their seasons cut short.
The Panthers season indicated 3 things: 1. This team is not at the point in the Blueprint where they will be perennial contenders. 2. The rookies brought up have serious potential and with time spent in the minors for some, this Cats team will be competitive not too far from now. 3. Conditioning needs to improve. The players dropping like flies was alarming and indicated that many had not worked out properly during the lockout (probably because they did not expect a season to occur) and were not careful when they set out to play in Europe. If this team is going to take a step forward next season they must condition and train during the offseason and come ready to endure a full 82 game schedule.
The Panthers finished with the worst record in the league for the 1st time I. Franchise history. They are picking 2nd in the upcoming NHL Draft and GM Dale Tallon will look to supplement the team with a player the likes of a Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane, both of which he selected when he was GM in Chicago.
PH@dA Most Valuable Player- Jonathan Huberdeau (February Rookie of the month, Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) finalist). Dale Tallon sure has a knack for picking solid high draftees and Huberdeau has shown he has what it takes to succeed in the NHl putting up great numbers despite having a less than stellar cast around him.
As a site PanthersHockey remained steady and made a bold switch to focus exclusively on South Florida hockey as the Heat and Dolphins sections are being removed and both teams now have dedicated sites in the new South Florida Sports Art Network. Some exciting times ahead for Panthers fans for next season with a new division, new players and even a new scoreboard at the BB&T Center! See you at the draft!
The current admin is a grad student at Florida Atlantic University. Became into art since I was a kid and love doodling and drawing. Eventually studied graphic design before going onto a history degree at Florida State. Fell in love with the Marlins in 1998 (yes the terrible defending champion), the Dolphins in 1999 after Dan Marino left, Heat in 2004 when Dwyane Wade was a rookie, and the Panthers in 2011 during the offseason that would lay the seeds for the Southeast Championship. Also a HUGE Super Mario/Nintendo fan!