SBD/October 18, 2013/Franchises

NHL Panthers Face Delicate Balance Of Off-Ice Business Not Impacting On-Ice Play

The NHL Panthers' attempts to market Thursday's game against the Bruins as one in which team G Tim Thomas would start against his old team "provided a tough glimpse into how a franchise that desperately needs to win and equally to sell tickets can be at odds with itself," according to Dave Hyde of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The problem stemmed from dueling team announcements on Wednesday. The team's Twitter account said Thomas would start Thursday's game, but that came "an hour after coach Kevin Dineen listed Thomas as 'questionable' for the game due to a lingering groin injury." The team's tweet was "quickly erased," and the next one indicated Thomas would play but not necessarily start because Dineen "hates to give advance notice of his starting goalie." All this is an "outgrowth of the Panthers marketing department forming a 'Tim Thomas Pack,' a three-game ticket package that included both Panthers games against Boston and another selected game." The tweet was "telling buyers of the Thomas pack their guy was indeed starting, as well as an attempt to drum up more ticket sales" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/18).

MASS APPEAL: ESPN's Tony Reali noted the Panthers were "expecting a lot of Bruins fans" for Thursday's game and made public they would "have TVs in the arena tuned into the Red Sox' game" against the Tigers in the ALCS. ESPN's Israel Gutierrez said, "I don't care what the incentive is, (the Panthers) need to try to get people in that building. ... They could give individual televisions and put them in the empty seat next to them and if that draws people, that's fine." The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan added, "If people moved from Massachusetts to Florida, they never liked baseball in the first place" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/17).
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