The Westside Gazette

Florida Panthers: Why You Should Become a Fan

Florida Panthers players gathered around at center ice.

The hockey season is almost around the corner, and now might be the perfect time to catch Panthers’ fever.

The Florida Panthers might have missed out on the playoffs last season, but this year there is much optimism surrounding the team on the ice because of the 38-29 record the Panthers finished with last year. However, even though the Panthers still have a long way until they are looked at as a premier franchise in the NHL, they have always made sure that they have been involved with the functions within the community.

One of the people who joined the Florida Panthers organization is none other than Lauren Simone. This year Simone’s going to make sure that you know what the Panthers are doing in the community. With her intelligence, charisma, and high-spirited energy she’s going to make a lot of good happen in the local neighborhood. She’s working for an organization that already values putting money into the city and helping it.

A young fan in the Dominican Republic at one of the Florida Panthers youth hockey clinics.

“When I came to the Panthers, one of the things that I was incredibly impressed about, and what a lot of people don’t know is, I feel so proud to work for an organization that has already given out 1.1 million dollars to the community” said Simone.

The Panthers new owner Vincent Viola is a different kind of owner than we have grown used to in South Florida. Viola seems like a person who truly cares about the town and the role his team plays with them. Viola is the type of person who’s very passionate about the community and that’s why he helped the inhabitants with that million dollar contribution to different charities without having an executive director present. Now that Simone is the new Executive Director of the team, she’s going to help build the franchise into a winning organization on and off of the ice.

“I was enamored with the team. Not just the team that they have on the ice, but the team that’s in the front office especially with the leadership….They’ve been pretty passionate about the community” said Simone.

Some of the organizations that the Panthers work with include the American Heart Association, Boys and Girls Club, Make a Wish Foundation, American Cancer Society, Children Services Council, Autism Speaks, Ocean Exploration Trust and Mission United. Furthermore, the outreach programs that the Panthers have done in the community already include having over 5,000 children benefit from their youth hockey program. The Panthers are also going to have street hockey events, that will be implemented on a larger scale in the years to come.

Children in the Dominican Republic taking a picture at the Panthers hockey clinic.

As the Executive Director of the Panthers, one of Simone’s biggest tasks is to look at the mission of the Panthers, identify the needs of the community, figure out how to become most impactful in the area and then she’ll be able to identify what type of events to have in the neighborhood. One of the events that she’s getting ready to execute is being kept under wraps.

Simone gave us a hint of what to expect to come in February. She expressed that in February there will be a big event that the community will not want to miss. The details are still being ironed out, but the general picture is will be an event that will be memorable. What we do know is that it’s a fundraising event, and it will have the Panthers players involved.

However, for everything that the Panthers are doing in the community, it all boils down to what they do on the ice. Fans in South Florida, and mainly in Broward county have been starving for the Florida Panthers to do well. Fans come out and support this team and they’ve been getting better recently, but everyone in the area wants to see the Panthers reach the playoffs. The Panthers have brought in a bunch of veterans on their team, with the most notable being Jaromir Jagr. They’re hoping that the infusion of wise and experienced players with young players can make the Panthers into a winning franchise.

Last year the Panthers were only seven points out of a wild-card spot. Depending on how this young core can mix with the veterans on the team will be the determining factor on if they will reach the postseason.

It’s looking like the best is yet to come on and off of the ice for the Panthers. Ready to catch Panthers’ fever? It’s time to become a fan.

D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter @DJoumbarey.

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