An excellent piece of writing by Kim the Panther. Are we cursed?

Unlike many other long championship droughts, ours has never really had a curse attached to it. The Boston Red Sox had the Curse of the Bambino to explain away their lack of World Series championship between 1918 and 2004. The Chicago Cubs have the Curse of the Billy Goat to blame for not having won the World Series since 1908 (and we think we’ve waited long enough). There have been the occasional calls for the NIC to be exorcised due the old graveyard lying underneath, but it’s never really developed into the romanticised stories associated with the Sox and Cubs.

In Nottingham, our futility for the past 52 years can be reasonably explained for the most part. There was the 20 years in which we didn’t play, the years after our reformation in which we lacked the junior set up of the leading clubs and then, just as our junior system was beginning to bear fruit, the beginning of cheque book ice hockey where the Panthers simply couldn’t compete. Only really since we moved to the NIC has our failure to compete for the title been so frustrating. Sadly, despite these explanations, it does not hide the fact that the Panthers have failed to win a league championship since long before any of our rivals existed.

This is naturally a source of great delight to the supporters of our detractors and has thus become an increasingly great embarrassment to the Panthers and their fans. We are desperate to see our team lift the league trophy and banish the demons of 1956 once and for all. A Panthers team winning the title would be the end of an era for those who like to mock us and would undoubtedly lift a huge psychological block that makes Panthers supporters naturally pessimistic and deeply cynical. Here’s the thing though, the longer it goes on, the more pessimistic and cynical we become, the less patience and restraint we’ll show towards the team and coach, the longer the drought will continue; 1956 is the curse itself.

Corey Neilson has shown a remarkable resilience this season. He’s been under fire from fans, quite rightly at times, and yet so far has responded the right way each time. As things stand he has a Nottingham Panthers team in with a chance of winning the championship after the festive period for the first time since 1995. Although admittedly the destiny of the title lays in the hands of the Steelers, very few of us would have been expecting to be discussing the chances of finishing top in early December.

Whether employing a rookie coach who is still in the midst of his playing career was the right thing to do at a club like the Panthers is another debate, the fact is Corey is here, and he has shown himself to be deserving of the support of the fans and, most importantly, Neil Black. If he does not deliver us that coveted league championship this season should not necessarily be written off as a failure because we underachieved. Granted, there is still a lot of hockey to be played, and a full assessment of the season cannot be made until it’s done and dusted but if Corey has kept us in with a reasonable chance right up until the end in his first season then he deserves the continued backing of the club. We have waited 52 years, would a few more besides really be important if it meant getting things right?

We are blessed with a remarkable heritage and tradition. Our longevity, the fact that we have played at the highest level of British ice hockey throughout the original and modern era, the former players we call our own, the many notable firsts and records we hold are all things that can never be taken away from us. Others might mock our failures in our 62-years of history but our past is something we should extremely proud of. We should be concentrating on now and the future and not letting our long wait get in our way.

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