This is the first of four articles from new writer David Steadman, which will be published on The Cat’s Whiskers over the next week. They are his thoughts, experiences and involvements with the Panthers and Ice Hockey in general. There is no right or wrong, just how he feels, felt and thought at various moments during the journey. First a brief introduction from David himself.
I have been a fan/supporter of the Nottingham Panthers since they reformed in 1980 (2nd game when they returned to the old stadium), I was ten years old and immediately struck by the atmosphere, excitement, speed (ok it was not that fast back then), skill and the whole experience of watching Ice Hockey. Football from that moment on was to pale into boring insignificance as a spectator sport (I still played with mates and for a pub team but you don’t get 2 mins for elbows in football). I played other sports, mainly field hockey (up to county level) so I know how easy or difficult it is to control the ball (puck), pass, shoot and score etc. I’ve also played Cricket but only at pub level.
Part 1 – Off Season
There is no particular order but I thought I’d start with the off-season as that is where we are at the moment and the fact that I am happy to read anything and everything I can find with regards to the Panthers. I won’t say hockey in general as I only really look at the league site and for some reason The Star in reference to other teams and I’m not actually sure why I do that. I think it’s a fix and there is usually something in there every day. I’ll look at forums (OK, the Cage) but everything on them is taken with a pinch of salt. I like reading others opinions, I find myself disagreeing or agreeing quite strongly but I won’t post because I’ll end up in an argument for all the wrong reasons. I think that’s what I’m trying to get to with this, the fact that everyone is passionate about the sport, the Panthers and wanting us to do well. We just have different opinions on how we should go about it. I analyse the signings we make, I ignore the other teams signings (unless they steal one of ours), I’m not overly bothered who others have unless they improve the profile of the league (Theo Fleury).
As I write this, we have to sign 5 more ‘import’ players, some Brits (I hope) from last year and maybe, if Corey can unearth one, a new brit from elsewhere. I like the players we have signed so far, I like the players we signed and lost and I have the utmost respect for Matthew Myers & Evan Mosey for the decisions they have made. Good luck to Evan, I hope to see you back with us one day. Matthew, family has to come first, this is people’s lives, their job, their living, what they do to earn money for their family. I know what it’s like to be away from your family and it’s difficult every day.
These two leaving were completely unforeseen, although I would expect them to have had conversations with GM or CN prior to the actual announcement from them and the club but, is it actually a problem? (Rhetorical).
Matthew, in my opinion, was our best Brit last year but what do you look at? The contribution during the game, his stats, his media output (every Cardiff game), what makes him important? I think it’s because he’s a good player, all players do something different and it needs the right blend to make a team work. The flip side to Matthew leaving is that Ollie Betteridge will hopefully have a chance at more ice time which, a lot of people have said, he didn’t get a fair go at last year and should leave to play elsewhere this year. Those same people now don’t think he’s good enough to replace Myers. He’s not going to replace him, he’s going to get his opportunity to show what he can do and, from what I saw, is more than capable of grasping it with both gloves and roofing it over the cynical naysayers. Anyway, do we actually need a replacement, Myers was a bonus if I remember correctly when he came back and it wasn’t anything that was expected. We are a little spoilt at Nottingham as we do have resources that other teams do not (more on this later).
As for Evan yes, he was fantastic for us and I have smiled all the time he’s been here watching him play. His speed, willingness to go into the dirty areas, hit, get hit, get up and score some of the most important goals we’ve seen. It’s been a pleasure to imagine the people who wrote him off when he signed, eat their words. That’s the point though, we don’t know until we’ve seen anyone play and then we still don’t know what they’ll be like if they come back, move from another team or come in from the NHL. Someone will come in to replace the position he has vacated but it will not be Evan Mosey, it will be someone else. If we replaced him with David Ling (please, please, please) then it would not be a replacement because we all know Evan is touch quicker than David and also actually understands the term back checking but, I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with that at all.
This is a little disjointed I know but there is a lot in my head from the last 35 years and it doesn’t all present itself in a nice flowing form for me to type out. On to the roster/signings/non-signings/quality and balance of our current off season. I like who we’ve signed, really pleased Cam Janssen is back (I don’t think he should have the C or an A, he seems to have a great relationship with the officials anyway so what’s the point in wasting it?) I’m also sure that he is not quiet when it comes to motivation, I don’t know him but that’s my impression, he’s natural, he’ll motivate and he doesn’t need a letter to do that. We have a decent crop of Brits, however Corey pulling out another British gem from nowhere would be great. I am not at all upset that Paul Swindlehurst left to go to Manchester Storm and I wouldn’t particularly be bothered if he came back. I don’t think he was very good and made poor decisions on the ice. Couple that with the ‘alleged’ poor attitude then I really don’t think it is a huge loss.
I would have been more than happy for the whole of last year’s team to re-sign and we go with that. Some may point to the 5th place finish in the league and say it wasn’t good enough. Quite frankly, who cares, the team at the end of the season with Quick and MacDonald in the side was a pleasure to watch. What difference (other than CHL) would it have made? If we had finished 2nd, 3rd or 4th then we may have had different opposition for the playoffs and ended up not winning. Also, anything other than 1st is not the league title, OK if you get down to 9th or 10th it would be a disaster but the league really isn’t big enough to worry about 2nd to 8th, is it? As it stands we have lost some players, we have gained some (OK, two so far) and if the final pieces are what we need then we might just be there or there abouts again. For what it’s worth, I would have three import defencemen and two import forwards added to who we have already, along with the mystical brit that I’m hoping for as a 13th forward. Will this win us the title? Who knows? Will it be entertaining? Yes probably. Will we get upset when we lose? Definitely! Will we be elated if we pick up the Challenge Cup and Play-Off trophies? I certainly will! Do they have to be ex-NHL players? I don’t think so, look at Evan Mosey, he could (with a bit of luck) be a future NHL player. What we need are the right players who can do the job we need them to, whether that be hit (Cam), pass (Moran) or score (Schultz).
There is plenty of time to secure the services of more players, they may well already be in place, we may be announcing them when we (GM) feels it is right to do so. Does it really matter if we sign a team straight after last season or within a few weeks of the new season (visa, flights etc. taken in to consideration as I would like to start on the 20th August with a full squad). No other team is going to sign players on the basis of who we sign (other than maybe enforcers), the league is just not big enough to worry about the other sides. Yes some may have ex-NHL players, some may not but with the exception of a few, those with NHL on their CV don’t always excel and some indeed, flop.
Part 2 on Legend & Players is now online here.
If, like David, you would like to write an article for The Cat’s Whiskers please send via e-mail to email@example.com for consideration.