Sports Illustrated: Florida Panthers' ownership among "worst" in NHL through 2008

Still breaking down a press release received from SI this afternoon (dated May 12th, 2009), but in an "unscientific" poll (of whom? Editors? Players?), the sports weekly broke down their top five "best/worst" owners among the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB.

Among other criteria, the following were used in determining placement on the list (courtesy of SI, and here's the link to the main article):

  • Team's success or failure on the field.
  • Willingness to spend money to improve the team.
  • Stability and capabilities of the front office and management.
  • Amenities at the team's venue.
  • Club's culture and interactivity with fans.

Regarding the Cats, I doubt anyone will find much argument that Florida's only lock-down winner on that list is #4: the venue. Consistently ranked top-ten in North America, the BankAtlantic Center is nothing to sneeze at. Everything else named above is either in a state of flux (Club's culture, stability) or on the rise (team's success, money spent to improve team). Currently, that is. At the end of the '08 season, everything was in flux.

Alan Cohen, and by extension his ownership group, are most certainly on the hook, given the several losing managerial regimes placed in charge of the franchise (some twice!) since he called the club his own. All one has to look at is the Panthers' playoff record since 2000, and a second-to-last-place standing on the list below is probably generous (teams are judged through 2008 season):

  • 1 MLSE Toronto Maple Leafs
  • 2 Alan Cohen Florida Panthers
  • 3 Charles Wang New York Islanders
  • 4 Atlanta Spirit Atlanta Thrashers
  • 5 Predator Holdings Nashville Predators

Given a vote, I'd place the Islanders at number one (sorry Dominik). There really isn't much debating Wang's truly goofball all-for-one and one-for-all hands-on management style. Every move the club has made since his first day in the owner's booth had his stamp of approval (does this negate Mad Mike's reign of terror and re-focus blame? You decide), from Yashin to DiPietro to Snow to Smith to a stalemated battle with the local community over a new building. A circus act in the truest sense (keep in mind, Tampa Bay is ineligible since qualifications for inclusion were walled-up at the 2007-08 season. Otherwise, a shoo-in).

How would you rank the owners today (top five best/worst), following a very different 2008-09 season? Any changes in your mind?

NOTE: there appears to be a bit of confusion as to the years included. The press release claimed it was through "2008", though the on-line article states through "2008-09 regualr season". Having read just the Panthers summary, one would be lead to believe this most recently concluded season is not involved (though why I have no idea). No mention of DeBoer, barely missing the playoffs, free agent and trade acquisitions, David Booth's breakout, attendance on the rise, etc...all were left out of the capsule, which in my view seriously reduces the credibility of the Florida organization's inclusion on such a list.