For years, Roberto Luongo played in front of packed houses at Rogers Arena. But he’s sure not in Vancouver anymore.
Now he’s in Florida, where the Panthers’ attendance woes once again rose to the forefront last night, as just 7,311 fans showed up to the BB&T Center to watch a 1-0 Ottawa victory.
Did all those empty seats bother Luongo?
“I don’t pay attention to that stuff when I’m playing, I just focus on my job,” he said, per the Miami Herald. “If we want to get some people in the stands we need to start winning some games.”
Winning games has, of course, been a challenge for the Panthers (0-2-1) since, well….since they’ve existed really.
But just because Panthers fans have had an excuse to stay away doesn’t mean the team’s future in South Florida isn’t in peril. Fans in Atlanta had an excuse to stay away, and that didn’t stop the Thrashers from moving to Winnipeg.
Remember that the NHL isn’t like Major League Baseball, where the combination of revenue-sharing and the lack of a payroll floor can keep teams that draw flies in the black. Eventually, enough becomes enough.
Yes, the Panthers have a lease that runs through 2028. But here’s the thing about leases — they can always be renegotiated. (You know how the Coyotes got rid of their old lease? They went bankrupt.)
The Panthers’ next home game isn’t until Oct. 30 versus the visiting Coyotes.