Friday, January 22, 2016


Florida Hockey-In Sunrise!

Florida Hockey, in Sunrise

                                             Last year's Rookie of the Year, Aaron Ekblad

In case you have not been paying attention, there is a pair of pretty good hockey teams in Florida.
The Lightning play out of Tampa Bay, which is on the Gulf Coast side of the state. The Panthers are located in Sunrise, virtually Fort Lauderdale. No matter. I you happen to find yourself in the state, you can locate yourself at one of these cities for more than 40 games a year.

Consider the latest offer from the Panthers: Four tickets, parking, four dogs, four sodas---------$ 79.00! There are Toronto Maple Leaf single tickets available at this price, and not the greatest seats. I know that trying to get Leaf tickets is difficult in the Great White North. This is an acceptable alternative. During play offs several years ago, people flew to Sunrise to watch the games. The whole excursion was cheaper than buying scalped tickets in the north.

The Panthers are feeling the effects of that emotional roller coaster called momentum. They recently chalked up their twelfth consecutive victory. There was complete euphoria after every win. There was that feeling that it just might go on forever. But everyone knew that just would not be the case. There would be unlucky bounces, hot goalies, unintended errors, injuries---that kind of thing that suddenly puts the brakes on a streak.

All four of the above-mentioned factors have reared their ugly heads. The Panthers have lost their last four games, heading into Friday night's contest against the Chicago Black Hawks. There will be many Canadian bums in the seats for this one, especially friends of Andrew Shaw. He hails from our neck of the woods, and I know at least a dozen of his fans will be at the game.

Please note: It appears on the television screen that there are plenty of unused seats behind the benches. Those seats are paid for, and the occupants may be in one of the exclusive clubs under the stands. They do peek out during the playoffs. I fully realize they would be occupied in a Northern arena. It is simply the nature of the beast.

                                                     Andrew Shaw, with his parents.

The Black Hawks invade the BT&T Center tonight. They are coming off a loss last evening in Tampa Bay, ending their twelve game winning streak. Tampa Bay is also working on a sizable winning streak, so it was a matter of push coming to shove. At least they will be able to enjoy the Florida weather, somewhat superior to that in Chicago. Truth to be told, it has rained significantly the past couple of days here.

                                                 With Robert Marvin Hull, in Chicago

The Panthers are reeling from a four game winless streak. They have had a few days off to readjust, and heal. They will play a couple of games, then head into the All Star break. That does not last long. The home stretch is long, and often debilitating. Too often does a team expend significant energy just to make the playoffs, only to face a fresh opponent. In that case, an early exit from the post season activity.

The trick is to have a stronghold on a playoff berth long before the season ends. That allows time to prepare for the post season, to mend nagging aches and pains, to re-energize before the second season begins. Every team knows the drill. It is just a matter of putting it in place.

Stay tuned!!

January 22, 2016

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