If the misery cupcake that is the Florida Panthers wasn't already bitter enough to its once-hopeful fans, there's now a rotten cherry on top: the team isn't even going to fill the General Manager position vacated by Jacques Martin, according to some trusty Canadians:
Sportsnet has learned that the Panthers are not expected to name a new general manager... The day-to-day hockey operations will continue to be handled by assistant general manager Randy Sexton. It is believed that former Panthers head coach Doug MacLean, Doug Risebrough and Neil Smith were all in the running for the vacant GM position. As for [Alternate Governor] Bill Torrey, it is unclear if he will remain with the club or what his future duties will be.
Well, isn't that special? It's not like the Panthers haven't already handicapped the would-be-capable Sexton by refusing to let him spend money, or failed miserably this off-season by managing to see that whole sale business -- truly the best thing on the Sunrise horizon in years -- evaporate into thin air and thinner budgets.
Now they can just waste all the time and money spent on a search for crucial leadership and leave the team virtually rudderless -- or worse: steered by the 2nd-most clueless owner in all of hockey. (Expert solution: they should buy into the Dolphins as minority owners and be absorbed by Bill Parcells.)
The sad thing is how close the Cats were to making some real progress just a few months ago. A near-miss at the playoffs (it's all relative when you haven't sniffed the post-season in 8 years), increased attendence, a chance to keep Jay Bouwmeester, a solid year from a new coach, the flight of bad management, a succesful draft, and the promise of new ownership were capped off with the acquisition of a fancy odorless Zamboni.
Now? Half those things have gone up in smoke, the others will be worthless without bolstering the roster, and it seems as if the only people who care to continue momentum are the ones in uniform. It's too bad they're not getting any help.
Janie Campbell admires the emotional fortitude of the Panthers draft picks who didn't burst into tears upon selection. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.