The Florida Panthers are back. It’s been almost eight months since the last time we saw our Cats on the ice, but after a long break and this challenging work stoppage, Cats fans everywhere can look forward to a special Opening Night after the NHL and NHLPA tentatively agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement pending ratification.
Not only will we be welcoming our Cats back to the BB&T Center, but we will also be unveiling our Southeast Division Championship banner, and conjuring memories of the incredible season we had in 2011-12.
A first division title in franchise history, four sold out playoff games with an electric atmosphere, the raining down of victory rats, and a gut-wrenching epic playoff series with the Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Devils.
Last year, this town fell in love with the Florida Panthers once again. Inspired by our great GM Dale Tallon, our fiery head coach Kevin Dineen, and our core of skilled and character-laden players like Ed Jovanovski, Brian Campbell and Stephen Weiss, this town became the hockey town we knew it could be.
All over South Florida, we saw people that truly “Believe RED.” We saw Panthers hats, and jerseys, and t-shirts and bumper stickers, and maybe most important of all, we saw the rats.
And as if our fans needed yet another challenge to their passion and loyalty, they were then faced with this difficult work stoppage. For that we must apologize. We must also reward your faith and fandom with a special season both on and off the ice.
We have already taken a step toward that goal, by dedicating the season to our fans and all of our partners as part of the “7th Man” initiative. All season long we will be honoring Cats fans with special features, spotlights, exposure and incredible experiential opportunities.
Beyond that, we will never miss an opportunity to say thank you, or to go that extra step to make sure your fan experience is as special and as memorable as we can make it. Our fans are the lifeblood of any sports organization, but that is especially true here with the Florida Panthers. Quite frankly, RED cannot Rise without our wonderful supporters.
So as we begin to build off that magical season, and take the next step in our journey, we pause to recognize how truly lucky we are to have the best fans in the NHL. To have supporters that showed last Spring, how special a hockey town South Florida can be. Fans that, no doubt, will make yet another statement come Opening Night with a sold out BB&T Center to welcome home our Cats.
A statement that is loud, and passionate, and ardent, and RED.
Thanks for reading, and Go Panthers!
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