(Editors Note: This piece is meant to be taken as satire. All facts, quotes, and reports are fabricated. Enjoy!)
Earlier this year, the NHL announced that it would be adding five more outdoor games next season to accompany the already immensely popular Winter Classic. While games in New York and Chicago were welcome with open arms, the announcement that a game would be held in the warm climate of Los Angeles was met with some skepticism. Well, the skeptics are going to need to get their sunscreen ready as the NHL announced today that the league will also be adding one more outdoor game in the tropical hockey capital of the world – Miami, Florida.
But, before I discuss the details behind this exciting announcement, let me first take you back to where this all began.
The year is 1998, Will Smith’s infectious song “Miami” has successfully welcomed the outside world to everyday life of South Florida’s favored city. However, there is something missing in Miami’s quest to take over the world – professional sports teams. Although the Miami Heat were founded in 1988, fans will refuse to recognize their existence until 2006 when the team takes home their first NBA Championship. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the Florida Marlins have just won their first World Series title, but were quickly dismissed when fans realized that it wasn’t actually football they had been watching at the Dolphins Stadium.
Things were looking grim for the Miami sports scene, a desert wasteland dominated by football and humidity just waiting for a reprieve. Although the Florida Panthers were still a young franchise, they still needed a push from the NHL as well as an outdoor spectacle that they could hang their hat on.
And that is where NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman came in.
In hopes of bringing some ice to the part of the country that needed it most, Commissioner Bettman unleashed his plan for hockey’s southern expansion in the early 1990’s. This chilling campaign into the southern United States added teams from San Jose, Tampa Bay, Florida and Anaheim to the NHL mix. Also, the relocation of teams from Quebec, Hartford and Winnipeg would also add more intrigue to the South’s hockey boom.
So now we find ourselves here, in 2013, with Bettman’s southern expansion proving to be a grand success and a shining beacon of his tenure as Commissioner. The upcoming outdoor game in Miami between the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning will be the grand culmination of all of Bettman’s efforts and hard work put into hockey’s southern push – But don’t expect him to be content with his success.
“This hockey game is living proof that my desire to grow hockey in the South has been nothing short of genius,” remarked Bettman when asked about the upcoming outdoor game at Marlins Park. “Given how much teams like the Panthers and Coyotes have already blossomed, I hope to have teams in both Puerto Rico and Cuba by the end of my tenure as Commissioner of the NHL.”
An NHL team in Cuba? The idea sounds far-fetched at first, but Bettman was quick to point out that there is a method to his madness.
“I still look at the fall of the Berlin Wall as one of the darkest days in NHL history,” Bettman said through a wall of smoke coming from his Cohiba cigar. “When the league lost it’s natural rivalry with communist nations, the hockey world mourned.”
With the future addition of communism back into the NHL fray, fans can potentially look forward to another “Miracle on Ice” type event when the USA could potentially take on Cuba in the 2030 Winter Olympics in Venezuela.
Currently scheduled for January 20th at Marlins Park in Little Havana, the city of Miami and the NHL are getting ready to welcome fans from all around the world to the joy and intensity of southern hockey.
In the spirit of Miami’s rich hockey heritage, the the NHL is hoping to have former child actor Mike Vitar kick off the exuberant festivities by dropping the ceremonial first puck. Although Vitar rose to fame as Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez in the 1993 coming of age classic “The Sandlot”, it was his role as the speedy Latin American skater Luis Mendoza in 1994’s “D2: The Mighty Ducks” that helped put Miami hockey on the map. Through a series of light hearted montages, Vitar’s character was able to overcome his hockey shortcomings, thus becoming a powerful symbol of the Latin American man’s ability to overcome adversity – a message that still resonates to this day.
Joining Vitar as honored celebrity guest and performing live during the 2nd intermission will be Miami’s favorite son, Mr. 305 himself, Latin American pop-singer Pitbull.
After the long and arduous task of explaining to Pitbull exactly what hockey is, he seemed ecstatic to take a $1 million check to endorse it. When asked about being a part of such a historic event, Pitbull simply shouted “Dalé!” and pounded a bottle of Bud Light – A sentiment all South Floridians can get behind.
See you in Miami!
Follow Jameson on Twitter @JamesonCoop
For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook
Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway