I have had the pleasure of living in two cites that have NHL hockey teams. Growing up in Chicago with the Blackhawks, and of course living here in South Florida with the Florida Panthers, has made my hockey life extremely pleasant. Except when they lose of course, which goes without saying. With that comes however a loyalty to not only the team that you cheer for, but for players that you come to enjoy and appreciate. Whether it’s watching these players develop and mature, or discovering how much you appreciate the newest addition that’s been added to your teams’ roster, the bottom line is, developing an affection for a player is common among all of us.
Over the past few days there has been some intensified discussion among Florida Panther fans about the future of Stephen Weiss, who has played his entire career with the Panthers, and who last season finally appeared in his first set of playoff games. Weiss who has been under a six year contract that is set to expire at the end of this season, will become a free agent if the Florida Panthers don’t come to terms with the lifelong Panther. The discussion seems to be split amongst the fan base about what to do and why. The NHL trade deadline is April 3rd of this season, coincidentally Weiss’s 30th birthday, and there’s a good amount of people who believe that he’ll be traded either before, or on deadline day. There’s also a number of fans who can’t believe the Panthers existing without Weiss. The Panthers have been known in the past under different leadership to hold on to players too long, and either get nothing or very little in return, such as in the Jay Bouwmeester situation. There are also those who feel that because of Weiss’s loyalty and longevity, he deserves to finish his career here. Or at least be signed to another long term deal. It is some of those same people who also felt that Weiss should have been named the Captain of the team instead of Ed Jovanovski.
I have learned in my life as an astute follower of this sport, just as in any other, that it’s a business. It’s about winning and money. Sometimes it’s only about money. It appears many times that you can’t get one without the other, and in almost every case if you don’t have the cash, you aren’t going to get the wins. It’s a vicious cycle at times, but what appears to be at the heart of this discussion (Weiss) is in relation to what the fans will think or feel if and when he’s traded. Weiss is no stranger to rumors, as his name has been brought up in conversations in at least each of the past three trade deadlines. He has survived those for various reasons. This year, I’m not so sure he will. Which gets us to the reaction of the fan base, and how it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It can’t matter because if a GM or owner worried about what the fans would think and feel before every trade was made, the Green Men from Vancouver would be running the Canucks.