Paul Balm Column 18th January

I’m a bit worried. The subject for this week’s article is dangerously close to the previous incumbents of this slot. When I was persuaded to start writing a weekly column I wanted to be fairly positive and I think, by and large I managed to do that but I think I’m going to fall off that particular wagon this week. I’m sorry if that means that those who liked the earlier ones don’t like this (but if it works the other way – welcome on board).

I want to start by apologising. It’s got to be about a month since my last article and I have to blame that on two (not entirely unpleasant) things – Christmas and the 4on 4 Road Trip. I don’t do ice hockey at Christmas, never have really. I’m always busy on Boxing Day with a tradition that stretches back way before my time watching Panthers (which is as long as Panthers have been playing at Christmas in the modern era) so I don’t go to those games and I quite like staying cheerful after Christmas so games after Boxing Day are out as well. Now, I’m sure you’re all saying that the joke is on me this year (last year?) and you’d be right and I was more than pleased about the results but it won’t change what I do. Perhaps Panthers should sponsor me to stay away?

As for the 4on4 Road Trip, well the closer it gets to March the 15th the busier we seem to get. The Evening with Danny and Dave sold out even quicker than Simmsey claimed it would and with that, sponsorship deals and various other things I’ve not had much chance to do anything else.

With all that in mind I’d better get on with things whilst I’ve got time and get on with the moaning. Our lack of a real, credible 11th import really troubles me. When I read that Sean McAlsan was coming back I was, for a while quite happy but also unsurprised. Sean’s signing seems to be little more than another attempt at a crowd pleasing prodigal son return by the Panthers’ management. Sean was popular before so Sean will be popular again. All the people who paid nasally for his shirt will be happy to see him, we’ll trot him out in front of a radio mike (who needs that new fangled TV stuff) and get him to say how happy he is to be back, how he never really wanted to play anywhere else and he’s ready to give is his all in the name of the cause. The thing is it doesn’t have to be Sean that’s doing this (and I want to say here and now that I have no problem with Sean himself, he’s only trying to make a living). We could, and should (more of that later) have brought in a new player who could be dragged in front of the radio mike. He’d say the same things (apart from how great it is to be back). If the player does give his all, plays for his team and puts the effort in week in and week out then the fans are going to love him and one of them might, just might pay through the nose for HIS shirt.

What I think I’m trying to say is that Panthers seem to be showing a distinct lack of ambition this season. I don’t want to compare us to other teams and this is written out of jealousy of what they’re but comparisons are inevitable and you have to look at what Belfast, Sheffield, even Braehead (and I mean that from an ownership point of view) are doing and replacing players when they’re injured or running with additional imports. I personally am questioning the decisions being made by our management this year. Why wasn’t Hereema replaced when he was injured last year? Is Ryhanen of the same calibre as Champagne or the players other teams are bringing in and why is our 11th import a player who has so little match experience of late? I don’t really want to comment on the fact that he’ll be missing this weekend. He may have had a prior commitment or some other reason. The fact that we’re going in to the game with only nine imports is little more than an unfortunate case of timing. One that could have been avoided? Possibly, but even if things had been done differently we could have picked up a couple of injuries last weekend and ended up in the same situation. It’s just bad luck.

It’s not only the Panthers’ management that are guilty of this, a large section of the fans on the Cage Forum are giving them the ammunition to load into their gun. How many threads are there that suggest we should bring player A or player B back? Ironically, there are even queries about Angel Nikolov’s availability in a thread about the lack of a 10th or 11th import this weekend. The problem is that it’s a vicious circle that needs to be broken, the management bring back an old player so the fans get used to old players coming back so they want old players to come back so that’s what the management gives them.

Give the people what they want, or rather what you think they’ll be happy with. I think, increasingly that there is a difference.

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2 Responses to “Paul Balm Column 18th January”


  1. 1 Onlyme January 19, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Spot on about mcaslan .

    But who really cares what’s said in the cage . They are a minority of fans and tend to be of the whining variety

  2. 2 DV January 19, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Thought provoking Paul, I tend to agree that this is a “lazy” addition to the squad i.e. bring back someone who is known as opposed to going and finding the next best new (unknown to the UK) forward! We need an import with a bit more desire/hunger and the will to win the close games by one goal, not lose by one (or O/T whatever it takes). Panthers are the same most seasons, dipping out in close games that make the difference from nearly guys to Champions.


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