By now all NHL fans know the NHL is back. The lockout is over, the players are going back to their NHL cities, and there are four faces I don’t want to see unless I absolutely have to. (Those faces belonging to two Fehr’s, a Daly, and a Bettman.)
It’s been almost nine months since the Florida Panthers have seen any action after their first round exit during the 2012 playoffs.
Since that time, the complete shambles of the lockout reared its ugly head, and we’re finally getting back on track. I assume every player who heard the news of a shortened season left their homes the same way George Costanza left Jerry’s.
The Florida area has struggled to maintain a consistent fan base, which is not a new problem for certain NHL teams. The Chicago Blackhawks experienced tough times and played to empty seats before the arrival of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and their all-star pair of defenseman Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Those players went around the city handing out free tickets just to get people in the seats, and eventually it worked. The Mad House is packed every home game, and it’s loud.
Many teams have tried different things to grow a fan base and create lifelong connections with the people of the city. It’s not an easy thing to do.
The Nashville Predators started a “7th Man” campaign two seasons ago to promote the fans and their importance. It worked. A once empty building came alive with fans all wearing the home jersey and relentlessly cheering on the Predators through their playoff runs. Including the fan in the game and giving them credit for wins? That’s quite a smart move.
The struggle to keep a consistent consumer of Panthers hockey has been noted time and time again. This year, shortened season and all, the Florida Panthers have released a campaign to include the “7th Man” called “Get It On”.
“Get It On” is an initiative to include the fans proactively as a valuable member to the team on the ice, and encourages fans to put on their jerseys and come to the games. Considering the most successful season in Panther’s history came last season by making the playoffs and winning the Southeast Division Championship, this is the time to support the team.
Tickets start at $7 a game, which is a bargain to see NHL stars play, am I right, Canada? The Florida Panthers released a statement on their website to promote all their initiatives including “RED Rising”, “7th Man”, and now “Get It On”. The effort is quite superb, three initiatives all aimed at filling the building and rewarding fans with a great product on the ice.
Timing is everything. Having a great season the year before, the emergence of a young goaltender in Jacob Markstrom, defenseman Erik Gudbranson, and Team Canada World Junior team member and Saint John Sea Dog’s captain Jonathan Huberdeau are three very bright spots in the Panthers future.
The time to start following the Panthers if you already haven’t is now. It’s an exciting time, and more importantly an opportune time to get yourself some tickets for maybe the lowest price in the league.
Katie Flynn is a News Editor at theScore and theScore App as well as an NHL Analyst for H4TV Sports News.