This week Paul Balm has got nothing to write about, so he’s answering your questions instead.

This is a bit awkward and not a little troubling. Here we are just two weeks into the new season and I’d run out of ideas what to write about. Now, I could blame the fact that nothing much has happened yet. DOPS have barely been apart from passing judgement on Leigh Salters fighting the Blaze bench and that can’t have taxed them for long, surely. There’s definitely nothing much to talk about on ice at the Panthers and I don’t think there’s much more I can say about Panthers off ice. Well, there is but we’ll save that for another day…

So, that left me with a few hundred words to fill, nothing to fill them with and a quandary about what to do. I didn’t want to not write anything because there might be some people out there who look forward to my ramblings every week. I know that’s unlikely but you never know. Then I had an idea – I’d appeal for (sensible, (vaguely) hockey related) questions on Twitter. Risky given some of the people out there (including me, I know) but it was either that or nothing. I shouldn’t have doubted doing this for a minute and what you see below are the results of something that I might well do (if only because this won’t be the last time my imagination will run dry) again.

So, first question please:

@Leebosims asks: How about how it shouldn’t be too much to ask to have the whole roster here and knowing the systems by opening weekend
If Panthers were the only people affected by this then I would be the first one up on his soapbox braying for answers. But we’re not, there’s a few other team’s in a similar situation – Belfast for one. What worries me more is that this sort of thing happens to us most seasons. We rarely have everyone in for the first game of the season never mind the whole training camp. This year has just been worse than most. OK, the league’s a marathon and not a sprint but it strikes me that not doing your very utmost to avoid these issues is like playing with one hand tied behind your back. We can’t say whether results would have been better this weekend had the players had longer together but it can’t have done any harm either. We as a club have to look at what we can do to try and improve this situation. If that means leaning on players more to get their visas sorted sooner then so be it. We should be setting the wheels in motion as soon as we’re signing players and maybe we are, I don’t know but we should be looking to improve. Of course there’s the fact that we signed a number of players late but that’s a different question.

@BStretton96: Maybe touch on our (current) lack of goalscoring at the moment to try and reassure the pessimists
You’ve not read this column before have you? Reassure the pessimists? I get them to reassure me. Yes, it has to be said that I spent a lot of time after both games this weekend bemoaning our lack of potency in front of goal. The optimists will point to the number of times we hit the post and how different everything would have been if they’d have gone in and they’d be right but I think Cardiff hit the post and these things will even themselves out over the course of the season. I’m happy with the way the defence has gelled we just need the forwards to do the same if they can and if they can’t then Corey has some thinking to do. One benefit of Peckham not coming is that It gives Neilson options in addition to the “extra” import slot. I just hope that if problems become apparent as quickly as they did last season the club will be quicker to try and solve them. OK we brought Doucet in but we needed a sniper a long time before the start of January. Right now I think that’s what we’re missing but it’s early days and who knows that clicking moment could be just around the corner.

@C2CMedia: Whether improving links between the Panthers & Lions would be worthwhile.
Definitely. There needs, for me, to be some sort of visible line of progression for young players coming up through the ranks. The Panthers should be working with the junior clubs and the Lions to establish this ladder for want of a better phrase. In addition I’d also like to see, as the Lions are in the NIHL, a link up with a team from the EPL to bridge that gap between the Panthers and the Lions. The thing is that there have to be benefits for all parties concerned, the Panthers, the Lions (or whoever) and the players themselves. There are all sorts of questions that need to be settled and egos or whatever it is that cause the breakdowns in these schemes or stop them happening in the first place, have to be set aside for the good of those interested parties.

@SarahAndrews: The difference between migrants and refugees is a good one
Let’s face it as ice hockey fans we should be used to immigrants coming over here taking the jobs of British players. We just call them imports rather than migrants or refugees. Obviously there’s a difference – refugees probably have issues with visa’s and that’s not something we like to talk about around here at the moment.

Thanks to everyone who took time to submit questions. Some I didn’t know how to answer and one that I’ve been informed we’ll be saving for this week’s podcast (apparently I’m not good enough to answer that on my own).

All of which brings me to one final point. There was an #AskTCW question on last week’s podcast that caused quite a bit of discussion in TCW Towers (were there such a thing) and Jono made a statement essentially on the behalf of all of the four of us that we thought would generate a lot of debate but it hardly created any. That got us wondering why, was it that no one listened beyond the Brock Wilson interview or are people not as interested/worried in the things that we are? If you haven’t already listened to the show give it a go and let us know what you think of what Jono had to say. It’s about 30-35 minutes in but listen to the whole show, it’s worth it honestly and give us your feedback on that particular issue if you would using the normal channels, Twitter, email, Facebook, coming up and shouting at us in the street, you know what I mean.

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