How the Panthers make money despite, er, losing money

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If you’ve ever wondered why anyone would want to own a money-losing NHL team in South Florida, Panthers president Michael Yormark puts it this way:

“I often tell people, we’re in the entertainment business and we happen to own a hockey team. For us, it’s just about providing as much entertainment as we possibly can for our community.”

The “we” Yormark refers to is actually the Panthers’ parent company Sunrise Sports & Entertainment (SSE), which owns both the NHL club as well as an entity called Arena Operating Company (AOC), which as you may have guessed, operates the Sunrise arena in which the Panthers play, the BB&T Center.

The Panthers, as a standalone NHL franchise, aren’t profitable, according to estimates.

But AOC is.

Without the Panthers, however, there wouldn’t be an AOC. That’s because, back in the ‘90s, Broward County built the arena to lure the NHL franchise out of Miami. As part of the deal, the team’s ownership company was granted a 30-year license to operate the arena.

The hockey team, in other words, was the foot in the door.

“We’ve got a niche in the marketplace with our hockey team and a very loyal fanbase,” Yormark tells Forbes, “but our value proposition is all about the entertainment. It’s 170-200 events a year, almost two million people in this building on an annual basis, and we have been successful.”

This Friday, for example, the BB&T Center will host Beatdown 2012, a boxing competition with musical performances by Flo Rida, Fabolous, Waka Flocka, DMX, Travis Porter and Fat Joe. (Tickets are still available!)

Without the Panthers, there’s no rent from Beatdown 2012.

SSE also recently partnered with a Las Vegas gaming company in an attempt to build a casino on land around the arena.

“We are beginning to make a shift into the real estate business with this new venture,” said Yormark.

Without the Panthers, there’s no real estate business.

All of which is surely frustrating for the players, who are being asked to accept a smaller share of hockey-related revenues to offset owners’ losses that are, in some cases, being made up in other areas.

*****The Cult of Hockey and Defending Big D also wrote extensively on this.

Penguins’ Guentzel makes ‘kick save’ to stop Capitals

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It doesn’t get much better than a player making the type of save you’d only expect from a goalie. OK, how about this: when it happens amid the high stakes of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel had already been distinguishing himself with a red-hot scoring start to the postseason, but he made a big difference in a way that won’t show up in the box score (aside from maybe as a blocked shot) for Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

In one of the few golden opportunities in a notably tight first period, Guentzel made a “kick save” to keep it 0-0. He also managed to avoid giving the Capitals a penalty shot in the process, so this was quite the effort from the impressive rookie.

Video will be added soon. Here’s the moment in GIF form first:

Lundqvist snubs Sens with 21 saves in first (Video)

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You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.

The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.

As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.

In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.

That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.

Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.

Kunitz is in for Penguins vs. Capitals in Game 1

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The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.

So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.

He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:

Foligno, Getzlaf, Giordano vie for Messier Leadership Award

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The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).

In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):

Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone. 

So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.

Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.

Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?