VanMurph's View: Victory Over Montreal
Saturday, 01.31.2009 / 10:39 AM / Blogs
|Murphy and Vanessa Burch|
Murphy, an airline pilot originally from North Carolina, is better known as vanmurph on the Panthers message boards and he, along with his wife Vanessa are two of the most vociferous fans at the BankAtlantic Center.
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What’s the old saying about paybacks? What are they? Well Thursday night at the BankAtlantic Center, there was definitely an air of payback from our fans directed towards the fans of the Habs.
In December of 2007, with half a period of hockey still left to play in the BankAtlantic Center, thousands of Montreal fans began singing the lyrics to Steam’s Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye. It was one of the most sickening displays of hubris I’ve ever witnessed. Not only was it utterly disrespectful to the Florida Panthers, but to their fans and to their arena as well.
In December of 2008, the BankAtlantic Center once again became the Bell Centre of Broward County. Thousands of Habs fans gloated over a 5-2 beating of the Panthers, and they continued their stupid chants as they left the building…
Fast forward to Thursday night. What a difference a month makes, huh? The Panthers are the hottest team in the NHL, and the all-star packed Canadiens are drowning in a four-game losing streak. I’m not sorry to say, it couldn’t happen to a more-deserving group of fans. Finally, the Panthers’ faithful were able to walk out their own house after a Montreal game without the taunts of the wintertime visitors from Quebec. The arrogance they’ve displayed in our building got turned on them with a vengeance last night. No chants of “Go Habs Go”, and no “Ole Ole Ole”. Nothing but a night full of the bitter taste of defeat, and the constant droning of the Florida Panthers’ goal horn blaring in their ears.The thing I found most satisfying was watching the “greatest fans in hockey” completely abandon their team with about six minutes remaining in the game. When Micheal Frolik slammed home Stephen Weiss’ no-look, behind-the-back pass from the half-boards, you’d have thought someone announced a half-price sale at a local buffet. The flowing sea of red and white started to quickly make its way up the stairs, into the concourses and out the doors. It was truly a wonderful sight to behold. It was almost as if they were trying to get out before what they KNEW was coming next; and that was a long ovation for the Panthers in the closing seconds of the game, followed by three Panthers as the stars, and then a raucous gathering of jubilant Panthers fans in front of Pantherland chanting and singing for nearly 25 minutes after the final horn. It’s funny how 30 days can change the demeanor of a group of fans like the ones from Montreal. In December they were shamelessly making a mockery of our hockey arena, and last night they couldn’t get out of there fast enough after the Panthers stomped on their hopes. Seeing them scurrying away like rats from a sinking ship was truly worth the price of admission. By the way, the 5-1 score was pretty misleading. Even though it was a thorough shellacking (in every aspect of the game), it could’ve easily been 15-1 if it weren’t for the stellar goaltending of Carey Price. He kept the Habs from getting even more embarrassed in a nationally televised game (in Canada).
As is usually the case for every game, the person who owns the seats in front of Vanessa and me sold them to the highest bidder. And as usual, the highest bidder was a fan of the visiting team. After having spent the entire game yelling as loud as I could, ringing a cowbell, and blowing an air horn (not to mention making some choice comments each time our guys ran up the score), I leaned down to make sure the guy knew there were no hard feelings and that nothing we said or did was directed at him personally. His response sort of took me aback: He turned to me and said, “No hard feelings at all. I’m a Panthers fan. I root for them unless they’re playing the Habs”… I just looked at him with the straightest of faces and said, “Then you’re no Panthers fan. You didn’t ONCE get on your feet during the evening to cheer for our guys, yet you stood repeatedly to show your support when Price made a good save. If you can wear that jersey into this building, and cheer against the Panthers, you’re no fan”. He just turned back around.
By the way, it’s my belief that Keith Ballard made the save of the millennium in the first period. His effort to move in and take away the open net was nothing short of a miracle. Had that puck gone in, the score would’ve been knotted at one apiece, and the momentum of the game and the atmosphere in the arena would’ve turned on a dime. Instead, Keith slides in, squares himself to the shot and deflects the puck to the corner! Then the arena erupts into a standing ovation! What an unbelievable display of determination and selflessness! That one play wholly personifies Ballard. He’s a guy who puts his team’s welfare ahead of his own, and he’s willing to do what it takes to get the job done.
The Zednik Goal: Richard Zednik’s goal was about as beautiful an effort as I’ve ever seen a hockey player put forth. Even as I stood and witnessed it in the arena, I wouldn’t fully appreciate just how unbelievably incredible it was until I got home to see the replays (over and over!). Simply stunning!
The Radek Dvorak Penalty Shot: Everything about it was perfect. From the initial hook, to the dramatic flair with which the ref signaled the penalty shot, to the beautiful glove-side wrister that made it’s way past Price and into the net. It was perfect!
As we head off on a brief two-game road trip, it’s my sincere hope that the Panthers go into New York with retribution on their minds. There’s some payback to be had for the New Year’s Eve loss we incurred at the hands of the team with the worst record in the NHL. Let’s go in there, play like we played Thursday night, and then head up to Toronto for a repeat of the performance from January 6th, when we beat the Leafs 4-2 at the Air Canada Centre.
This is a quick reminder from the Panthers about the Watch Party Saturday Night: “Watch the Panthers take on the New York Islanders at Rivals Waterfront Sports Grill in Hallandale Beach across from the Diplomat Hotel this Saturday January 31st starting at 6pm (Puck Drops at 7pm). The Panthers Ice Dancers presented by Dr. Albert will be there signing their 2009 calendar as well as doing a small performance throughout the game. The drink specials are $1.75 Bud Light Lime (each beer) and $2.75 for other Bud products and $4.50 for Red Hook beers. There will also be food specials as well. Come on out and cheer on the Cats at Rivals in Hallandale Beach.”
Thanks for stopping by the blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. After the mid-season entry earlier in the week, I had intended to write next about the media’s coverage of the Panthers. But then this pair of sweet victories (Flyers and Habs) occurred and I couldn’t resist the urge to sit and write about how wonderful it was to beat those two teams and their obnoxious fans. If you’re so inclined, you can just include Philadelphia in most of the sentiments discussed about Montreal, and you’ll also have a complete synopsis of my thoughts on the game last Tuesday night… The successful 6-on-4 penalty-kill during the final 1:23 of the game was AWESOME!
If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, or if you just want to say Hi, I can be reached at: VanMurph@hotmail.com
Thank you to everyone who emailed me after the last blog entry. It was a pleasure to correspond with each of you.
Oh, and I’ve waited 13 months for this: na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, GOOD BYE!!!