Well Panthers fans, tomorrow it will be a week since Opening Night at the BB&T Center and I have to say that the magic and excitement of that evening has not yet worn off.
With an Opening Night record 19,688 red-clad guests packing the BB&T Center, we unveiled our Southeast Division Championship banner, dedicated the season to our fans with the 7th Man initiative, and came away with an exciting 5-1 win over the rival Carolina Hurricanes.
It’s hard to believe that by the end of Saturday night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, we will already have played five games in 2013, roughly 10% of our schedule. That is the nature of this shortened campaign – from here until the end of April, games will come fast and furious and there will be ups and downs and challenges for every team.
We’ve seen that thus far, taking an exciting victory in the opener before falling short over the last few games. But the bonus of a condensed schedule is that we have an opportunity to get right back out there on Saturday, in Tampa on Tuesday and then home again on Thursday against Winnipeg.
But regardless of the normal peaks and valleys of an NHL season, the one thing that does remain consistent is our commitment to thanking our fans and showing how much we need them and appreciate them, all season long.
On Opening Night alone, we launched our 7th Man initiative with a special fan banner, 7th Man jerseys worn by every player during warmups (which will be given out to fans one by one during the season), a postgame autograph session on the JetBlue Tarmac, my own Twitter campaign to sit with a different fan each game, and more.
Our fans are the lifeblood of our organization, and we are committed to giving them the exciting hockey and incredible experiences that they deserve. And clearly, our fans were extremely excited for the return of hockey. With nearly 20,000 in the building on Opening Night, another 15,634 at our game vs. Ottawa Thursday night, and a big crowd expected on Saturday vs. the Flyers.
It really is moving, and a bit humbling, to see how passionately our fans have responded to the return of Panthers hockey, and it just reminds our organization once again, how lucky we are to have the best fans in the National Hockey League. Yet another reason why the 2013 season is all about our fans.
Thanks for reading, looking forward to a great game tomorrow night, and go Panthers.
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