Nottingham Panthers’ disappointing start warrants front office apology

“I’d like to start by apologising to supporters for last night’s performance against the Coventry Blaze,” Nottingham Panthers CEO Omar Pacha wrote in the aftermath of his franchise’s second heavy defeat of the weekend.

“It is extremely unfortunate that after only three league games, I have to come out and apologise for the display shown last night, which was truly unacceptable. This has to be on all of us though. We will rectify the poor start to the season as this great fanbase deserves better.”

Nottingham’s rebuild isn’t off to the best start.

Since beating the Guildford Flames to open their account, the Panthers have lost three straight in all competitions.

Coventry handed Nottingham their first defeat of the season, with the Motorpoint Arena outfit unable to recover from a sluggish start on the road. Although the result wasn’t ideal, Gary Graham’s side produced an acceptable performance and improved after the first intermission.

However, the same cannot be said of their efforts in the second week of the season, which began with a heavy defeat against the Manchester Storm.

“We had a flat start,” Graham said of Nottingham’s 5-1 loss in Altrincham, “they had to push the game back due to [our] bus problems. I was worried we would have a slow start and it happened: they jumped on us early and we dug ourselves a hole. We started to find our game a little bit, but we just weren’t good enough.”

Gary Graham has suffered a disappointing start behind the bench with the Nottingham Panthers (Image: Panthers Images)

In defence of the Panthers, travel disruption is a major complicating element in professional sports. It’s a mitigating factor but cannot whitewash Nottingham’s performance at the Storm Shelter.

“You’re always going to have a couple of guys who are slow starters or are a little bit snake-bitten, but nearly half our roster isn’t playing up to par right now,” Graham continued. “That’s a lot of guys; a lot of passengers. Until we get everyone going, our margin for error will continue to be small. We’re going to be an awesome team to watch when everyone gets going, but we’re struggling to find that initial chemistry and results that we need.”

Related: BIH Roundup: Gary Graham’s Panthers suffer heavy losses

After watching his side lose 6-1 versus Coventry, the former Fort Wayne Komet added: “It’s very hard for our club to get anything going because we don’t have an identity… we’re having a hard time finding what works for our group right now.”

Nottingham Panthers are under pressure to reverse disappointing start

Graham is a head coach under pressure. He arrived in the East Midlands to fanfare and told supporters he would implement a recognisable identity, but has struggled so far. His team are 1-3-0, are conceding in bucketloads, and lack spark in the offensive zone.

Luke Ferrara is pointless through four appearances for his new team, with Mike Hammond, Tanner Sorenson, and Matthew Myers the only multi-point players on Nottingham’s roster. There are also plenty of question marks floating over the crease:

Goaltender

Games Played (Minutes) Goals-Against Average Save Percentage Record Saves

Jack Berry

2 (89)

4.72

.870

0-2-0

54

Alex Dubeau

2 (87)

2.76

.867

1-0-0

30

Alex Dubeau (Challenge Cup) 1 (58) 4.14 .871 0-1-0

31

Statistics via Elite Prospects

It’s still early days, but the Panthers risk falling into a tailspin and erasing a positive summer if they fail to reverse their disappointing start.

“This has been a very busy and hectic off-season. As a club, we couldn’t be happier with where we are off the ice, but we realise we will be judged by results on the ice,” Omar wrote to Panthers Nation on Sunday [18 September].

“In the space of four months, we have created a sense of excitement, positivity and hope for the future. We have worked tirelessly to establish our plans to improve our club, to show our appreciation to our fanbase and to work on becoming a major attraction for players.

“As a new CEO, my main focus is the overall business but, in this industry, the on-ice product, no matter what you do in other departments, is the most important area for the majority of our supporters.”

Pacha and Graham have been pointed in their remarks.

Pacha expects more from his team and coach.

Graham expects more from his roster.

Nottingham face the Sheffield Steelers in the Challenge Cup next. It already feels like a must-win encounter.


Will the Nottingham Panthers make amends for their disappointing start to the season next time out? Join the conversation in the replies.