This weekend Ken Campbell published a piece on his blog hosted at The Hockey News explaining that Panthers ownership was giving off "mixed messages" when it came to the topic of relocation.
The Florida Panthers are sending some mixed messages when it comes to the possibility of relocation. My blog. http://t.co/5iMRvJ6xJ5— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) December 19, 2014
All was well for Campbell, as his particular segment of anti-southern market readers were probably eating it up. The article, however - featuring a recent interview with Florida co-owner Doug Cifu - contained what has been labeled either a lack of research or a downright falsehood regarding a certain aspect of the Panthers' debt with Broward County:
@THNKenCampbell @jackdpmjd @EmptySeatsPics ken - factual error in first paragraph. Panthers owe zero to county. Nothing. No loan. Research?— Doug (@Dougielarge) December 20, 2014
Things degenerated quickly from there as Campbell's inadequate research skills - or bias? - were brought to light.
@THNKenCampbell no sorry ken wrong again. That's been paid off. Panthers owe $0. Kind of a basic fact to check on a story no?— Doug (@Dougielarge) December 20, 2014
@GeorgeRichards yup George. Wrote the check myself. So would you have confirmed that with the team or the County? Journalism 101? Agenda?— Doug (@Dougielarge) December 20, 2014
The story would eventually be corrected, though the relocation rumors are still discussed in it.
Update on yesterday's blog by @THNKenCampbell with clarification. Panthers paid all outstanding loans. Regret error. http://t.co/12Htmf2iXI— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) December 20, 2014
This stuff really wouldn't be newsworthy if it were any other organization, short of Arizona. What Cifu proved by calling out the factual inaccuracies in The Hockey News article is that he isn't going to put up with the abuse the Cats have taken at the hands of certain members of the Canadian media over the past couple of seasons. I expect that's going to change to a degree as the team continues to gain respectability on the ice, and sooner rather than later, but the temptation to glorify Florida's "situation" will remain an easy target for those who wish it to be. By sticking to his values of integrity and respect, Cifu (and the ownership group in general) is earning the respect of the agenda-free mainstream media.
This also suggests ownership is truly fed up with the relocation talk. Only they know what their plans are, and have stated firmly on multiple occasions that the team isn't moving. It would be really irritating to keep telling someone "Hey, that's not going to happen. Forget about it.", only for them to turn to their friends and say "The thing totally might happen even though he says it won't, and this (false) information is why".
Most importantly, Cifu truly cares about the team and the fans that cheer for it. What more can you ask from an owner than transparency?