Preseason action continues tonight with the Cats clashing with the Habs. Admittedly, I've missed the first two games, but they were losses, so I feel like it's OK...HA!
I've never been a big preseason guy. It's fun to see the kids play and get a glimpse of the talent in the pipeline, but it just always feels a bit "off" to me. It's close, but it doesn't quite have that regular season feeling, obviously.
Speaking of the young guns, I came into tonight's game halfway through the second - actually, I've started this blog during intermission before the third - and was pleasantly surprised to hear the announcer say that Q mentioned that Dryden Hunt has been one of the top guys to impress him so far. This was excellent news to hear because I've been high on Hunt from the small sample size we saw of him last year. He has the build and brings a simple, hard-playing North and South game. If he's been able to better his play in the offseason (which it sounds like he has), he will be a nice piece in the lineup.
The Q Effect
This past weekend, I watched (what is now) a favorite sports documentary of mine. It's called "Lombardi's Redskins" and focused on 1969, when Vince Lombardi left the Green Bay Packers organization and joined the Washington Redskins. The country was at odds with itself due to the Vietnam War, racial tensions, Nixon's tenure, and more. In the heart of the nation's capital was the Washington Redskins - a team that was on a 14 season losing skid.
I always knew Lombardi was a great coach, but I didn't know a lot about him as a person. Maybe because I'm a lifelong Bears fan and didn't want to know anymore about Green Bay's history/success. However...this documentary really opened my eyes to the type of guy he was. He was progressive (especially for the time) and an incredible human being. He had an old school approach, believed in a tough mentality and expected the best out of his players. He seemed to have that rare ability to be able to connect with anyone and his leadership was unmatched. In fact, industry, government and educational leaders all sought him out.
Perhaps the major reason Lombardi commanded the respect he was given was because he was a winner. A legit winner. The guy never had a losing season.
While the Redskins and Panthers are different teams, there are some parallels between Lombardi and Q. Simply put: they're both winners.
In fact, tonight the announcer said Q has been behind a bench for 21 seasons and has been to the post-season 18 of those 21 seasons - and we all know about his three Stanley Cups.
While Q walks into a different situation in Florida than Lombardi did in Washington, his hands are still full with high expectations from the Panthers front office and especially it's fan base.
Like Lombardi's players, we see the Cats players are all in on Q - as evident by their awed looks during his press conference and their words when talking about him. The fans are all in, too. The excitement is certainly there.
However, nothing is a given. While Q has an incredible pedigree and there's a talented team on the ice, it all still needs to come together.
While Lombardi's tenure was sadly cut short due to illness, he was the right man at the right time to give Washington it's first winning season in almost 15 years. I believe Q is the right man at the right time to turn the Panthers into winners.
"It's essential to understand that battles are won primarily in the hearts of men...and once you have won their hearts, they'll follow you anywhere."
- Vince Lombardi
The Panthers posted this yesterday and I can't help but really dig that mask...
At the conclusion of this blog, the Panthers have fallen to the Candiens 4-3. Dang!
Catch the Cats back on the ice tomorrow against Montreal for a rematch.