Fair-weather or under the weather?

I think Florida fans are getting labeled unfairly as fair-weather due to their attendance.

As a hockey fan I feel the only way to really voice my opinion (aside from writing a letter to an esteemed hockey publication) is how I spend my money on tickets and merchandise.

In 2006 the St. Louis Blues were the worst team in the league. Fans stayed away and we were labeled as fair-weather, baseball fans. What wasn’t brought up by those criticizing us was that it was the season after the lockout, the team was dismantled and essentially a minor league team was put in its place, and ticket prices hadn’t become any more affordable as was promised by the owners.

Now in 2009, the ownership has reached out to fans with decent prices, put together a team that works hard, and even though they’ve sat 15th in the West for most of the year, the house has been packed on most nights (with 21 sellouts in 31 home games as of Feb. 22). All we’ve ever asked in return for our money is a good effort.

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So while it’s easy to pick on Florida fans for poor attendance, ask yourself if they have had a reason to support the Panthers since the lockout.

Would you shell out money to buy season tickets when they traded Luongo in 2006? Has the Panthers management given their best effort in icing a hard working team since the lockout?

It seems they finally have and I challenge everyone to catch the highlights or watch a game on TV. Listen to the Florida crowds now that they actually have a team that is trying hard and ask if they are still fair-weather.

Josh Rapplean, St. Louis