Why Panthers probably won’t win the league anytime soon (and why it’s not all bad!)

This is probably going to be a controversial posting as you can probably tell from the title! But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past week about the make up of Panthers teams past and present, especially since we moved to the NIC. The emphasis has always been on entertainment, with 6,500 seats to fill every game it has to be. However, providing entertainment has, in my opinion, been at the expense of competent defence. Ask yourself this. How many outstanding defencemen can you name since we moved into the Arena? Only a handful I’m sure. Now compare that with outstanding forwards, it’ll take you a while! The famous saying is ‘Offence wins games, defence wins championships’. I feel we will struggle to have the consistency required to win a championship.
But let’s look at the other side of the coin. Sheffield Steelers are the most successful side in Britain, of that there is no argument. However, their success has come at a massive cost, the club is surviving by their fingernails and crowds are down to below 3,000, not enough to survive for very long I would think. The reason? the boring, lifeless, dull hockey they’ve played to win their trophies in the past few seasons, so much so that crowds have deserted them in droves. It appears now that they are playing a more entertaining brand of hockey, but I fear that they are too far down the line to ever attract the crowds back.
So, back to us, can we tone down the entertainment, and improve the defence to bring a championship winning side to Nottingham? I’ll go back to an earlier point I made. We have 6,500 seats to fill, playing entertaining hockey keeps our crowds high. We could always go the defensive, trap route to secure the perceived holy grail but would the Panthers management take the risk? After all, there is a stark reminder of the possible consequences just 40 miles North of here.
So what’s the answer? Well it’s possible to have entertaining hockey and win titles, just look at Coventry and Belfast, but they are the exception rather than the norm. The way I see it is while ever we play an entertaining brand of hockey that keeps the crowds high, the profits rolling in and the punters generally happy then that is how we will always play. Also it is noticeable that more and more people come for a Saturday night out rather than the rabid tribalism of team against team, the old guard who saw us at the Ice Stadium are becoming a smaller minority, and also remember that despite the popularity of internet forums such as The Cage, the regular posters represent a tiny minority of the overall average crowd. It was almost demanded that Panthers should win the league but you don’t tend to see that any more, today’s Panthers fan wants entertaining.
So what about me? Well, it used to wind me up that we’d spent so many many years without a league trophy, especially when our nearest rivals would win it regularly, but now I’m just not that bothered by it. Don’t get me wrong, I would dearly love to see the Monteith Bowl in Nottingham in any given April, but I have been genuinely entertained by the hockey we have played in recent seasons. So much so that I was counting down the days until this season started, something I haven’t done for a very long time, yet I didn’t predict Panthers to win the title. Now instead of getting hung up on our lack of title, I actually enjoy seeing fans of other sides obsessing about it far more than we ever did. Stopping watching because we hadn’t won the league would be simply cutting my nose to spite my face, Forest haven’t won the European Cup for years and are never likely to again but it doesn’t stop me supporting them!
I would suggest just enjoying the hockey and if a title comes, it comes, if it doesn’t there’s always next season.


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