The Florida Panthers have had a rough start to the new season. You'd be hard pressed to find fans who've been there and know it.
ESPN is reporting the announced crowd of 7,311 on Monday night was not only a franchise all-time worst, smashing the previous low of 10,063, it was also the smallest attendance figure for an NHL game in almost three years.
"I don't pay attention to that stuff when I'm playing," Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo said. "I try to focus on my job. If we want to get some people in the stands, we're going to have to start winning some hockey games."
Through two home dates, the Panthers have drawn 18,730 fans total. Eight teams averaged more than that for home games last season and, entering Tuesday, the Panthers' two home games to date had drawn the two smallest crowds in the league this season.
One obvious plus for the Senators from playing in an empty arena on the road: Hearing coach Paul MacLean bark out commands was easy.
The Panthers' ownership group said last month that the club has steadily lost money for more than a decade, and there's been speculation -- which the team has vehemently and repeatedly shot down -- that the franchise may be moving, possibly to a Canadian city.
SB Nation is reporting that the Panthers are a hot topic right now after a franchise worst attendance showing on Monday night, and a figure not much better for the 2014-15 season opener last week.
The numbers are deflated by the fact that ownership has stopped giving away as many free tickets as they have in the past but no matter which way you slice it, things look bleak. It has many of us thinking that their time in Broward County might be coming to a close sooner than later.
And it has many saying things like "move them to a city that cares" and "Miami has no business hosting a hockey team."
The Panthers have made the playoffs four times in their 21-year history. Aside from a magical run to the Cup Final in 1995-96, which was their first playoff appearance in just their third-ever season, they have not won a single playoff series. They've finished with a winning record just eight times in 19 completed seasons to date.
Leading candidates for relocation are Quebec City, Toronto (most believe a second NHL franchise would work there), Las Vegas, Seattle, and Saskatoon (?). There is no current trendsetting leader, and the Panthers have again vehemently denied any relocation speculation.
[Image courtesy of Full Tilt Hockey Network]