Vote of Confidence?

Twitter hacking, player of the year votes and why your opinion matters & congratulations from Paul Balm

I had quite a sobering experience at the end of last week. An experience that has made me sit back and think a little about these articles that I write and their place in the world. It’s very easy at times (although I don’t think I’m too guilty of this) to start thinking that what you’ve got to say is seen as important by other people. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. I’ve always seen the amount of reaction on social media as a fairly good indication of what sort of impact (for want of a better word) an article has had on people. That is until this week when my Twitter account got hacked. It wasn’t as exciting as when Joe Grimaldi’s got taken over and those terrible people said all those terrible things. All the people who got into my account did was try the sell the whole world cheap sunglasses. The thing is that I don’t think that I have ever had quite so many replies, likes or re-tweets etc to the sunglasses tweets or my subsequent warning/apology than anything I’ve ever written. Maybe I should give all this up and go into selling sunglasses. The only thing stopping me is that I’m not sure I can undercut their $23.99 price tag.

All this wondering about the value of my opinion has come in the week when the Panthers have actually asked for ours. That’s right, the team that have something of a reputation for taking us as a fan base for nothing more than cash cows want to know who we think are the best and most entertaining players of this season. This is a good thing, they’ve don’t have to do it and even though it doesn’t matter all that much in grand scheme of things it’s better than nothing. Improved fan interaction has to start somewhere and maybe this isn’t it. They have had votes in the past and they might even have offered a prize before but this time you could win tickets to attend the otherwise sponsors (and I’m reliably informed that’s only the team sponsors rather than the individual gold, silver & bronze player sponsors) premiere of the Continental Cup film that us mere mortals will no doubt be extolled to buy at some time in the near future alongside the accompanying book.

That might sound a little cynical, and if I’m honest, it probably is. I’m fairly rapidly coming to the conclusion that the number of corporate sponsors only events says a lot about how this club is run. Vote or no fan vote it’s very difficult not to feel under-valued as a Nottingham Panthers fan. It would be great to hear, just for once, amidst all the corporate messages and shout outs for people at their first games a nod to all the fans who are still here after all these years. The fans whose first game is nothing but a distant memory seem to be forgotten in every instance except their wallets. They’re Panthers most loyal asset, they may not bring in as much money in the here and now as the (undeniably important) corporate sponsors but they have kept the club going over the years.

I’m sorry, I’m digressing back to depressingly familiar territory for all of us. Let’s try and get this back to the matter in hand.

It has to be said that the way that Panthers have chosen to conduct the poll isn’t perfect. From the way it has been set up it appears that you can vote more than once (it certainly allows you click submit more than once with the same email address) and using a free text field instead of a set of options means that, if you wanted to, you could enter some less than helpful answers. I’m not admitting how I know either of these things by the way. Let’s just say I don’t picture my size 12s on a red carpet any time soon.

All this means that everyone gets to have their opinion and as usual that means that plenty of people want to shoot other people down for having an opinion that doesn’t match theirs. It strikes me that one of the biggest problems with society today is that if you don’t agree with someone else you are wrong. Just look at how Piers Morgan called J.K. Rowling a political loser because she was pro-remain and anti-Trump. That doesn’t make her a loser, just in the minority, there’s a difference. Still Piers Morgan has only bragged that Donald Trump calls him Champ because he won a series of Celebrity Apprentice so maybe that wasn’t a very good example.

Any public vote for an award like this is going to generate a lot of different responses and behind every one of those responses will be a different reason. I’ve seen some of those reasons that people are putting forward for their choices and I have to say that I don’t agree with them but that’s OK, they’re only opinions. No, that’s not right, they’re not only opinions they’re YOUR opinions and that makes them as valid as anyone else’s.

What stands out for me about these awards this season and the reasons that are being given for people’s choices is that, in a lot of cases it shows what a poor season it has been for the Nottingham Panthers. I think there’s probably only a couple of real contenders for each award but the fact that people are saying that they’ll vote for Pacl because of how happy he always looks or what he did in Coventry shouldn’t be seen as a slight on that person. If you voted for Nikiforuk for getting back in time for the Continental Cup final then don’t beat yourself up. I wouldn’t have chosen either player for either of those reasons but each to their own. These incidents have probably gained more importance this year due to the lack of real highlights or entertainment. Events like that would have been single-handedly over-shadowed by Cam Janssen both in terms of individual events and overall play over the course of the season. This season has been different. I’ll struggle to remember much about this season by the middle of April if I’m honest. The Continental Cup in the context of the rest of the season is like the cones of light thrown from three streetlights on a foggy street in the middle of the night.

Like I say I voted in both polls but in a lot of ways it was with a heavy heart. I voted for players that I know are not as good or entertaining as I have seen in previous seasons. I’ve got an idea in my head about who I think will win both awards and if I’m right they’ll probably be deserved but at the same time saying they’re the best or most entertaining players of this season isn’t really saying all that much.

Finally, for this week I want to add my voice to the rest of those congratulating Cardiff Devils on their Challenge Cup win. I doubt it’ll be the last trophy they lift this season and their attitude from top to bottom is something Panthers would do well to take a look at. Of course, it is the Challenge Cup so I’m duty bound as a Panthers fan to say that we’ll be taking it back next season.

I have just one question though: Did Todd Kelman help lift the trophy?

You can follow Paul on Twitter @NotMrBalm

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