Other NHL Teams Potentially in Trouble.
Another club believed barely hanging on in their current location are the Florida Panthers.
The Panthers are currently owned by Sunrise Sports and Entertainment, whose chairman is Cliff Viner, who took over sole control last summer after being a co-purchaser of the long-struggling franchise in November 2009.
Viner has vowed to make the Panthers – which this past season set an NHL record for the most consecutive season without making the playoffs (10) – a competitive team, and launched into a serious rebuilding mode under former Chicago Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon.
It’s too early to tell how well Tallon’s rebuilding efforts work out, but it will likely take several years before they bear fruit.
In the meantime, the Panthers have all but dropped out of sight in the Miami sports market. Attendance figures are rumored to have been padded by ticket giveaways, a report earlier this year claimed an infomercial was outdrawing them in TV ratings, and while they have plenty of salary cap space, aren’t expected to be a preferred destination for free agent stars.
(Update: Michael Yormark, SSE president and COO, tweeted the Panthers were not in the top ten in the NHL in ticket comps this season, plus their sponsor revenue was in the top third of the NHL. Good to see Yormark is determined to “better educate the media on the health” of the Panthers, as there’s been a lot of reports suggesting the franchise is in trouble. My thanks to Panthers play-by-play man Steve Goldstein for re-tweeting Yormark’s recent tweets to me).
Still, the TV ratings issue remains troubling, as does their attendance, which for last season was 22nd overall in the league, playing to an average of 81.1% capacity, up slightly from last season’s 78.7%.