Wherever you’re from, whichever team you cheer for, and whatever you think of the NHL having teams in markets where people wear shorts and t-shirts year-round, you can’t deny that Florida Panthers fans have had very little to get excited about.
Since entering the NHL in 1993, the Panthers have completed 21 regular seasons and made the playoffs just four times. While they made a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, they haven’t come close since. In fact, since moving from Miami to their current arena in suburban Sunrise, which they did in 1998, the Panthers have made the playoffs just twice, losing both times in the first round.
But that hasn’t stopped the argument that the NHL should give up on the Panthers and relocate them somewhere like Quebec City. Florida’s attendance was the lowest in the league last season, averaging just 11,265. Meanwhile, the club has been requesting, without success so far, financial relief from Broward County, which owns BB&T Center.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has remained insistent that the Panthers aren’t going anywhere.
“As you’ve heard me say repeatedly, ownership is the key difference,” he said in June. “Vinnie Viola has got the resources and the commitment to make it work. He’s had to retool and revamp the operation down there, and I believe the club is headed in the right direction.”
And with that, it’s time to vote: