So we all now have seen what hockey can be like in Orlando. We have endure a full season of the new Solar Bears and unfortunately, broke our two team streak of championship appearances in the inaugural season. We're now in the offseason, and if there's one thing people absolutely love to do, is give a laundry list of suggestions, demands, and all types of pleading and begging to have their own wants and desires. People went crazy when they announced the Turner Cup banner unveiling while they turned into rabid dogs on how the teddy bear toss was done. It's not a bad thing really, some people actually have some good ideas and want to feel they have a voice. I have been to a good number of games throughout the season and have watch some road games (online). I saw what did well, and what they can consider for the next season. Based on what I have observed, let me be one to show you my list of stuff. You can agree on all, part, or none of it at all; or, you can add to it.
Have real player intros
Though they only started doing it last week, one of the things that really bugged me was when the PA was announcing the starting lineup, yet the whole team was already out. Guess it must be habit when the PA calls a name, we instinctively look towards the tunnel to see said player. It doesn't have to be flashy like it was on the first game, but a starting lineup intro where they come out as they are called would be nice.
Casual dressed game staff
Ok, yes it is after all, a business, but do you all have to look like corporate stiffs? Shouldn't the in-game entertainment crew (WAIT! That brings me to my next suggestion...)
An in-game entertainment crew
Sure you have Shades, but you can do better, check that, Shades can do better, I'll get to that in a bit. I've noticed watching road games hype guys going around the stands and interviewing fans during puck stoppage in order to get the fans more involved, whether it's trivia, prizes, or just crowd rallying. They do have the intermission games, which is good, I'll give them that. Even if it's just one or two people, that could be your whole crew. Plus, you need someone to be Shades' voice, which brings me to...
How often do you see Shades? (jumbotron sign holding doesn't count) Don't let Shades be afraid of the light, have him out more, get him involved with the game. Let him paw on the glass and "intimidate" the other team. Let him wreak havoc in the stands,
s illy string
screw around with opposing teams' fans, steal their left shoe. Also,
take that hula-hoop out of Shades, he's too fat, which contributes to the limitations of the costume. Ultimately I would
bring back the old Shades that's skating around RDV, but it's
embarrassing how many other ECHL mascots look better than the current
Shades and are more involved in the game. I see them more watching road
games online than I see Shades at the game. Shades still looks better
than Greenville's mascot only because there should never be human
mascots ever, but fat Shades would still not compare to the other
divisional mascots unless he looks near anything like his old self. One more thing, teach Shades to skate, the one time he did he fell to his knees. (Oh, that was planned? Well he fell at the perfect time). They have a whole skating rink for him to practice, I'm sure he can use it during team practice or even during public skates. Don't you want to see him come out onto the ice waving that big flag after a Solar Bears win? So let Shades train from the best, let him watch videos of SJ Sharkie, Louie, Stanley C. Panther. Oh, they're NHL mascots? Well then, check out Marty the Marmot, he was in the ECHL a couple years ago, currently is in the WHL, and is a sick dancer. Don't lose faith in Shades.
When the season began, the PA guy was horrible, took too long for the goals and penalties; often having to correct himself. If I hadn't already knew most of the hand signals, I'll be looking around too wondering what the calls were. (Here's a list on what some of those signal look like) But as the season went on, he did get better at it. Not much more from here other than continuing familiarizing the calls and the AV people showing more replays.
Simple, change it. It's normal to hear what's hot on radio, but do they really have to play Kesha, Dragonette, and Flo-Rida at a hockey game every time? Play something more in the line of what we hear in the game intro, something to pump up the team during warmups. If you really need to play that kind of music, play it during the opposing team's intro.
Better job in game updates
I'm not at every game, nor do I watch every game online, but when I do, I do my best to update what's happening as it's happening. The Solar Bears have a Twitter page exclusively for game updates, but they're not real time. Yeah, yeah, you got Bobby Steel Mill, but there have been times where 740 is broadcasting something else because the feed is out, or you're at the job and can't really have any attention-grabbing noise, that's where the Twitter feed comes in, or Facebook if you prefer. I'm sure you're already updating from a computer, if I can sort of do it from my phone, you can it better than me.
And last but not least...
I know there are people new to hockey, but this part is a little more in the common sense area. Every time the Solar Bears post a photo while on the road, you all go "ha ha, look at their empty stadium." You fail to realize that the photo was taken during WARMUPS! Although most teams don't average 6000/game, most fans don't come early enough to watch WARMUPS. Those that do, 90% are instead using that time to get food and chat with others on the concourse. I don't want us to be dubbed the Oakland Raider fans of the ECHL. Not saying we should be soft, but think before trash talking and don't be oblivious if we're losing big and keep saying the other team sucks.
I thank you for enduring my long laundry list, if you couldn't hang the whole time, you're not ready for the offseason. Whether or not we see the team take any of these measures in mind will be seen. I know I'm not the only with a laundry list, make your own here or send it straight to team management. The more they hear from the fans, the better chance they'll listen.