SBD/Issue 19/NHL Season Preview

NHL Franchise Notes: Bettman Says Panthers Will Not Relocate

Commissioner Feels Speculation That Panthers
Are Relocation Candidate Is Unfounded

In Ft. Lauderdale, Harvey Fialkov noted NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Tuesday reiterated that the Panthers are "staying put in Sunrise and have never been a candidate for relocation." Bettman: "I'm not sure where this speculation comes from, but it's completely unfounded." Bettman is "confident that GM Dale Tallon can turn around the franchise like he did in Chicago" (, 10/5). Meanwhile, Fialkov reported the Panthers are "pacing toward 10,000 season tickets for the first time in half a decade." The team has launched the new "Cat 5" season-ticket promotion. The campaign is being "activated through radio, online and throughout all of the Panthers' internal media properties including the SSE Media Network" (, 10/4).

DARK NIGHTS AHEAD: The GLOBE & MAIL's Stephen Brunt noted in a city where "every hockey story of the past few years has had a dark undercurrent, in a place where the economy is still reeling, at a time when all professional sports are seeing empty seats where there were none before, dealing with both the shortage of recreational cash and the ever-better options for watching at home, the Coyotes would have to be remarkable indeed to stand out in a place where they are but a peripheral part of the culture." This season there "figure to be a lot of lonely nights, no matter how good the team is, enough empty seats to give the mysterious" prospective buyer Matt Hulsizer "pause." Brunt: "Funnier things have happened in pro sports than a sudden outburst of hockey mania in a place where every indicator points down. Though not many" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/6).

GROWING PAINS: In Minneapolis, Michael Russo writes the Wild are "at a crossroads." Russo: "Never, in its decade-long history has this organization been so under stress." The team "for the first time" is "working tirelessly to fill its arena." Wild COO Matt Majka said that the Wild's season-ticket base has "decreased, although he won't say by how much." He added that the team "would still be top-six in the NHL." Majka: "I hope we get back to a place where we have [a] season-ticket base that is maxed out, but right now these are learning lessons that will serve us in the future" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/7).

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