Hot off the wire: Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola and vice chairman Douglas Cifu released a letter to fans Wednesday afternoon aimed squarely at silencing completely unfounded but headline-grabbing rumors from many corners of the web which imply the club is in a fatal downward financial spiral that will result in a move out of the South Florida market.
Some have suggested the team was purchased purely as a short-term "flip" prior to a relocation, seriously questioning the integrity of ownership's repeated denials regarding any potentially nefarious motives for buying the club. Still others look to requests for additional loans and funding from Broward County as a dark signpost in and of itself.
If there is one constant among certain circles of fandom and more than a few media outlets who cover the NHL, it has to be the incessant clamor for relocation of "failed markets". Carolina just became the most recent recipient of hate due to that organization being for up for sale (edit: just to clarify my point about rabblerousers, as word has it a minority portion of the Hurricanes is on the block). Oh, and it's located south of Toronto.
Evidently Viola and Cifu have - like all of us - had enough. From the team:
As we close in on the one-year anniversary of our ownership of the Florida Panthers, we want to reiterate our commitment to Broward County, South Florida and our Panthers fans and business partners. As we said at the press conference when we bought the team, we view ourselves as stewards of the team for the community and our plan is to build an organization that makes South Florida proud and to win the Stanley Cup in South Florida. Despite media speculation to the contrary, we have no plans or intentions to move this franchise.
We made a commitment to the Panthers and to South Florida when we bought the team to build a successful organization on and off the ice. We have been working hard to live up to that commitment. Starting with the trade to bring Roberto Luongo, one of the world’s top goaltenders, back home to South Florida, and continuing with our committing over $80 million to new players, including bringing six talented veteran free agents to South Florida and resigning all of our restricted free agents, we have dedicated ourselves to improving the team. Off the ice, we continue to expand our community outreach initiatives and look forward to continue to contribute to the quality of life for residents.
It is no secret that the Panthers and BB&T Center have lost tremendous amounts of money over the last dozen years. We are working hard to address this situation, which we believe we can do with the support from our loyal fans, our business partners, the business community and our community-at-large.
We look forward to a winning season and bringing a Stanley Cup to South Florida.
With Warm Regards,
Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu, Co-Owners
So that's that. Just don't fool yourself into believing the naysayers will drop the subject. Ever.