Like a Joke Without a Punchline

Paul Balm returns with his first article of the new season on pre-season, walk-up tickets & Panthers TV.

Pre-season is a strange time of year. It feels like a joke without a punchline. Like there’s something missing. That something is probably intensity. The players don’t want to get injured before the season starts and the emphasis is more on how the team played than the result. Take either of the games this weekend. If we come out of either of the corresponding fixtures with the same result in the league then I’ll be gutted but I felt mildly optimistic (not confident you understand) about what’s to come.

We’ve not see our full team yet but that’s probably a topic for another week but some of what was there showed promise. We’re winning face-offs again thanks to Matthew Myers and Evan Mosey has come back looking pretty sharp as well. I thought David Clarke looked a little tentative in Manchester until he scored but who can blame him for that. A special mention has to be given to Connor Glossop who took his chance to show the coaching staff what he can do with both hands. And very skilled hands they are too. He’s definitely one to watch for the future and I can see him making the same step up as Ollie Betteridge in the next year or two. Finally, add to that with a couple of impressive performances from Mika Wiikman (please don’t call him the #Wiiking in my presence) and new defencemen I didn’t really notice (always a good sign for me) and I’d say we’ve got the foundations of a fairly decent team.

The thing is that that’s all there is at this time of the year – foundations. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a full team, half a team or three quarters you’ve only got the start. OK, you can give yourself the best start possible by signing players cleverly but the one thing that will make the team grow is how gel together as teammates and bound together as people.

And that’s why I hate predictions at this time of the year. You might already have listened to our pre-season shows (if you haven’t please do but read this first it isn’t imperative) you’ll know that we were all asked to give our predictions for who’ll win the conferences and the league. Why do we have to stick our necks out like this now? Why can’t we make them in October when we’ve got more idea about how things are going to pan out. We manage to prove we don’t know much week in week out without the need for this added chance at humiliation. The thing is that they’re popular and now is the traditional time so I’m probably going to have to grit my teeth and say the first team that comes into my head every season until I decide I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t remember who I said I thought would do it now but it’s out there now for good or bad. The truth is that I have no idea who will win the league.

Before I move on I’d like to point out that I’m writing this article on Tuesday, 1st September 2015 (it’s currently 8:54). I’m saying that so you understand that what I’ve written below was correct at the time of writing as things have a tendency to change very suddenly which can make people look a bit daft. That’s all, OK? I’ll move on.

Did you see the announcement from the Panthers that if you don’t book your ticket in advance and buy them on the door the box office will just allocate you “best available” (their quotes not mine) tickets? No, I’m not surprised neither did I until I was told about it and went looking. It’s right at the bottom of the article about the fact that two more players are coming in.

Now is it just me (yes, I know, it probably is) but shouldn’t something as important as that deserve it’s own article on the website? OK, there are plenty of season ticket holders out there who won’t be affected but there are also plenty of us who can’t afford to spend that amount of money in one go and buy their tickets week to week. If I want to sit in the seat I like I’ve got to buy it with a credit/debit card online or make an extra journey to the arena all so that the box office can “save time”. I don’t get it, I’ve never missed a face-off yet when I’ve “walked-up”.

That’s not really the point though. It’s a question of priorities. Why was something like this tucked away in the penultimate paragraph of an article but a teambuilding visit to play with Lego gets a full article on it’s own? OK, the reference to the popular Scandinavian building block is a tad facetious but I could have picked any number of articles that do not affect the fans when this information does.

For some reason there are people out there who want to know my thoughts on Panthers TV (life’s too short to type its full title) and now I’ve finally got round to watching it I can do just that. I don’t know what I expected from it really. I’ve said plenty to say about Panthers’ communications in the past (paragraphs) so I have to admit I approached it with a certain amount of trepidation. I liked the idea but then I liked it over three years ago on a drunken night out with Jono Bullard so the problems I foresaw were always going to be in the execution.

There are problems but they aren’t as bad as some have said. I wouldn’t recommend it but if you watch some of the first episodes of Cats Whiskers TV there are flaws in those too but if Panthers work on them the way we did it could be worth watching. They’ve got a professional media company involved so they need to listen to their advice. There’s some good content in the first episode but comedy can be very hard to do or put another it’s incredibly easy to be unfunny (I should know that better than anyone). They need to think about what people want and tailor the content of future episodes. It can be hard at times but you can learn a lot more from what people say they don’t like than what they do. All I’ll say is moles…

Having said all of that I’ll be tuning in again to see where the show goes.

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