Is there a bigger laughingstock in the NHL than the Florida Panthers?
Seriously. Whenever I tell anyone that, yes, I wore a Panthers jersey as a kid in minor hockey practice, the same flabbergasted look always comes back at me.
It’s the same look of shock and horror that would cross your face if you watched the chef who just tossed up your pizza pie walk out of the bathroom without washing his hands.
I’m used to it and I accept it.
And I think the Panthers are used to and accept the fact they are stuck in a perpetual rebuild, because after the latest episode, I’m convinced they’re not even trying anymore.
You’d think after the Roberto Luongo debacle the Panthers would have made their next blockbuster trade count.
You’d think after acquiring a game-stealing goalie in Tomas Vokoun for draft picks Florida would start trying to use their resources to close in on a playoff spot, their first since 2000.
You’d think if they wanted to fill out their defense corps, they would spend a little money on a free agent market that includes Brian Campbell, Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival and John-Michael Liles.
But no, GM Jacques Martin – the mere fact he still holds a job with the franchise is a testament to how poorly it is run – chose to trade his franchise player for two defensemen, the likes of whom you can find pretty much anywhere, just before the unrestricted free agent market opened.
The Panthers have a reputation for making big draft day deals, so maybe this was a move just to keep tradition. And what would a Florida Panthers draft day trade be without a few snickers – or full-on outbursts of hysterical laughter – from the peanut gallery?
Maybe management figured having it so good with Luongo and Jokinen – whom they stole from another mismanaged organization – was just a curse.
Maybe they just wanted to rid the organization of any bad karma from past trades that, looking back, were woefully one-sided.
Maybe they were just returning the favor.
Nothing surprises me with this franchise anymore.
The team is constantly flushing prospects, players and picks under the guise that, one day, maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but one of these years, the rebuild will be complete in Florida and the payoff will taste sweet.
But if they want their fans to keep eating the crap management feeds them, the Panthers have to wash their hands of any and all incompetence that has broken out after years of gross negligence.
Because, one of these years – maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but one of these years – the jokers in the front office will really not have any fan base, or team, left to rebuild.
Rory Boylen is THN.com’s web content specialist. His blog appears Thursdays.
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