Florida Panthers: An International Fan Perspective

Good morning Panther fans! What a win last night, eh!? Loved seeing the BB&T that energized last night through Twitter and Instagram posts. If you follow @frankRekas on Twitter (as you should) you can see the energy was different than in most years. I believe this bodes well for the team and the organEYEzation.

Anyways, it is 11:30am here in Florence, Italy and today’s post is all about hockey fans abroad and their view of the Florida Panthers. Currently my wife and I are on our honeymoon (I know I shouldn’t be posting but she’s alright with it as long as we are on a train.) and we can’t help but be social with other travelers we come into contact with.

We recently took advantage of a wine tour in San Gimignano, and over several glasses of excellent wine, and snacks of balsamic vinaigrette, and olive oil the conversation turned to hockey.

D2: The Mighty Ducks was mentioned by an Irishman who asked specifically about the “knucklepuck” and if it was an effective shot? Weird enough question at a winery. Most of the table laughed. I chimed in and said that’s all Hollywood, but team Iceland was a true powerhouse. We started trading one-liners and idiosyncrasies that we realized wouldn’t fly when we had a better understanding of the game as adults. For example, Russ Tyler “knucklepuck extraordinaire” wearing Goldberg’s jersey and eventually scoring the tying goal.

The conversation moved towards where everyone was from; Boston, Montreal, and Washington DC and from there, who our teams were and how the season was going to go.

(L to R: DC, Boston, Detroit, FLA)

My wife was going on about the Red Wings and Yzerman’s return (she’s a Michigan native and lifelong Wings fan), Boston was lamenting their Stanley Cup Finals loss last year and defended their fan culture i.e. getting into a fight in the stands and meeting up at a pub after like nothing ever happened. DC oohed and ahhed over Ovechkin and we laughed over his pics with the Cup when he had it. Montreal spoke of Carey Price and hope they have this season. We all hated on Toronto for a while which ended in the agreement of a Boston/Toronto playoff rematch.

When I finally mentioned the Panthers, to my  somewhat surprise, Montreal had a look on his face like he was awe struck. I’m not sure if he has ever met a Panthers fan in the wild before. I expected to be spit on and looked down upon from hockey’s Mount Olympus. After all  most “Northern” fans are of the opinion that hockey doesn’t belong in Florida. He erupted and gushed over Aleksander Barkov. Claims he’s a top 3 player in the league and he has the highest respect for Finnish players because his favorite growing up was Saku Koivu. Montreal didn’t even mind Barkov’s goal of the year candidacy being scored on Price.

Boston then chimed in and said he’s a great player but he’s no Bergeron. We clinked wine glasses and agreed to disagree.

Montreal began talking about goaltending and how the area of his hometown has produced some of the games best goaltenders. IE Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo. There’s a small pocket outside of Montreal that was inhabited by Italians. Seems like we found the perfect person to talk hockey with, in Italy. You could tell by his comments about Luongo that there was a great sense of pride. When I asked him if Luo was a hall of famer, he replied “non question, absolument.”

Montreal then asked what I thought of Jonathan Huberdeau, you know, since he was from Quebec. I showed him photos of Huberdeau and myself at a players event a few years ago and told him he was my favorite player on the team. Boston overheard this and asked if “…that was the guy who scored on a spin o rama on Tukka (Rask)…” I grinned and nodded.

“He would look good in a Bruins jersey.” At this point Boston was just being Boston, trying to stir up trouble.

As we were saying our goodbyes, with new friendships made and our hockey bonds stronger,  we exchanged contact information just in case one of us were in town and wanted to catch a game. It was an awesome experience not only taking in Tuscany, but getting positive feedback on the Florida Panthers abroad. The team has high expectations to meet this year. Let’s make those around the world take notice!

Thank you for reading and please follow me on Twitter @prudentia0.