Note: I was debating on whether or not to publish this entry until after the season began, but I decided to go ahead and put it out there. Hopefully, I won't jinx the Panthers and on that note, I need to knock on some wood.
Two men. Two sports. Two cities. One state and one objective. Bring home a championship to their respective teams. It is interesting that the Panthers would put their future and success in the hands of a young quarterback whose first name is Cam. Just up the road in Raleigh, NC there is another Cam who plays for the Carolina Hurricanes. The idea for this post came to me while watching the end of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final between Carolina and Edmonton in which the Hurricanes took in seven games. What I took away from that game is that everyone in the Carolinas should be excited about having another guy named Cam representing the professional team for that region.
Cam Ward, a goaltender, was taken in the first round (25th overall) of the 2002 NHL draft. As it is with the sport of hockey, Ward found himself playing in the AHL before being called up to the big club for the 2005-06 season. Ward would post a record of 14-8-0-2 (for the hockey uninformed that is Wins-Losses-Ties-Overtime Losses) and sporting a save percentage of .882. But his early success wasn't limited there. He was instrumental in the Hurricane's quest for the Stanley Cup during the 2006 playoffs. In the end, Ward would finish with a playoff record of 15-8 and a save percentage of .920. Consequently, Ward would be recognized for his efforts and be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy (awarded to the playoff MVP). He would be the second rookie since Patrick Roy to win a championship.
How does this pertain to Cam Newton?
For starters and the obvious, they both share the same first name. For a small area that has only two professional teams the name Cam isn't exactly common. Both were first round selections, though the difference here is that Newton went first overall in his respective draft. Both Cams have had success prior to playing with their professional teams. Ward excelled and earned awards in the WHL and AHL before being called up to the Carolina club. Newton won a championship at Blinn College and at Auburn before declaring for the draft. Just like Ward, Newton earned award after award before turning pro. Both of these men know about winning. Both know about hard work and what it takes to be successful. Since his rookie season, Ward has gotten better and despite the Hurricanes missing the playoffs the past two seasons, he has always progressed (albeit the 2009-10 season where he had a losing record but not all of that was entirely on him as his save percentage and goals allowed would suggest). The only lingering difference other than the sports they play, is that Newton has been engulfed in a sea of controversy from his college days and been the focal point of critics, analysts, fans and haters alike on his ability and weather he can play at the next level. My thoughts on Newton: he will lead the Panthers to new heights. As long as the Carolinas have a Cam amongst them, the sky is the limit in terms of success.