My lifelong dream of wearing an AC Milan jersey was foiled years ago by a proclivity for booze and cigarettes, so I'll resign myself to watching it on television, the internet and with the bemused chuckle of World Cup "insta-fans" surrounding me. Thankfully, in my many years covering music in South Florida, I've come across many musicians who are passionate about sports, and in this new series, we'll be talking to them about their favorite sports and teams.
Alex Leon has ground the axe and sang for many noteworthy bands in South Florida like Dance Floor Justice, Target Nevada, All Hell Breaks Loose, and Remembering Never. Alex is also a fervent hockey fan. We had the opportunity to discuss his hot/cold relationship with the Florida Panthers, his love of the Detroit Red Wings, and why the sport hasn't caught on and gained popularity in our tropical environs after all these years.
New Times: What exactly is it about hockey that first drew you to it?
Alex Leon: As a kid, the speed and intensity was the first thing that caught my attention. It's constantly moving, exciting and tough and the rivalries bring blood! Literally! Plus, it has such a fascinating history. In terms of how teams got started, why certain rules were placed due to the misconduct of others, etc.
What would it take for the sport to become more popular in South Florida?
I'm going to sound a little bitter here, but simply told, we have to win. When we made it to the semifinals, in the late '90s, everyone was a fan, throwing rats, and supporting Panther colors, and then the Avalanche shut us out. After the display that the Heat fans showed, it's more apparent, now more than ever, that this is a fair-weather city.
It's bittersweet being a Panthers' fan. I stand by my team year after year. Always have. I'd love to see them get to the finals, but we simply can't for one reason or another. It's also disheartening when you attend games and see opposing teams having more fans, with jerseys on, in the stands than your own home town team. It's sad.
All Hell Breaks Loose
When did you become a Red Wings fan and why?
I lived in St. Louis as a child. My stepfather worked with a fella that had a son that played for the St. Louis Blues. We were given tickets to see the Blues against the Red Wings. This was in '93, the era of Yzerman, Federov, Ciccarelli, etc. These guys were fucking rock stars on the ice! I've been hooked ever since. My dream is to one day attend a Red Wings game at Joe Louis Arena. A man can dream.
They didn't do too bad this past season, how did you feel when they lost to the Bruins in the Conference Quarterfinals?
The Red Wings can be a roller-coaster, throughout the whole season. There are games where they play hard and other games where it feels they didn't even show up. They're always a shoo-in to make it to the finals.
Why they don't win every year? I don't know, with a powerhouse roster of generally solid players like Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, and Babcock's leading? What's the problem? It's not like you have a bunch of sissies revolving around one overblown golden boy, like the Penguins and that fucking bitch Sidney Crosby.
I don't typically care for Boston. They play hard, but to me, they're a bunch of goons. I don't care for Milan Lucic especially.
What do you think will be their chances next season?
Given their draft options and most of their solid players coming back, I don't see them not having a great season. Maybe they're just not hungry right now? Who knows, I'll always root for my Wings to make it to the finals. It'd be nice to see the Panthers do the same. It would also be nice to see Crosby get knocked out again too, by a runaway Zamboni, during a game. Again, a man can dream, right? (Laughs)
Do you think the Panthers will fare better next season?
Kevin Dineen is out, he showed promise at first, but in the end his leadership didn't cut the mustard. We have a great crop of potentially strong young players in our drafts and we still have a great crew of vets. Let's hope that new coach, Gerard Gallant, can bring some punch back to this team. I'll still be there regardless. One thing is for sure, my brother will be bummed that a former Red Wing is coaching the Panthers now. He hates the Wings! (Laughs)
What kind of team-rebuilding would you do if you had Gallant's ear?
I would concentrate on team-building, mostly. As I said, the team has a lot of great, solid vets and new hopefuls. Maybe shed a little more money to get a great power forward, like Ovechkin? Someone like him, to me, is worth the money and hype. In terms of a solid star player, you have to look at every facet of their playing capability. I guess that's why I hate Crosby so much. He is a solid offense scorer, yes, but he's a bitch in every other way. He picks fights he can't finish and knows he won't finish, he doesn't do any defense either.
Ovechkin can do it all! So can Steve Stamkos. I'd love to have him in the Panthers' camp.
What kind of season can be expected this fall?
I'm going to continue to stay positive, in hopes that our new blood and coach bring some life into this franchise. I want to see some strong team play, aggressive defense, and Luongo bringing some solid goal-tending, as I know he can. I'll be there and hopefully more people will too.
I never understood people telling me that hockey is boring. I mean, these are the same people that watch Transformers films. Those cater to people with the attention span of a micro second! Hockey is constantly moving and should speak volumes to these degenerates.
Wake up! Support the panthers. Go Cats!
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