More hockey games fell victim to the NHL lockout on Sept 27 when the Florida Panthers announced that the remainder of their preseason games were cancelled.
The Panthers' website announced the cancelation of their final three preseason meetings with the Tampa Bay Lightning that were scheduled to occur on Oct 2, Oct 4 and Oct 6. The reason cited for the cancellations was the NHL lockout.
The Regular Season Threatened
Up to this point there has been very little actual money lost be either side as a result of the labor dispute between the NHL and the NHL Players Association but the date of the season opener is drawing near. The Panthers are set to open the season on Saturday, Oct 13 in Sunrise. If there is no deal done by then, the players as well as the fans will be locked out of the BT&T center.
I highly doubt the NHL season will begin on time this year. The two sides met this past weekend in New York after over two weeks of giving each other the silent treatment. The two sides discussed things like player safety and drug testing, which relate to the new collective bargaining agreement.
The major rift in the discussions, which has been the financial aspects of the players' revenue sharing, was sidestepped in order to make progress in other areas.
It seems that the two sides are making progress but the giant cloud that is cast by the revenue sharing agreement is still there. With less than two weeks to get a deal done, it doesn't look like the 2012-13 season will start on time.
I truly believe that the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is doing what he thinks is best for the league and wants to help small market clubs like the Panthers succeed. What the great irony of the whole thing is, the NHL may be harming its small market teams more that it is helping them.
The Panthers were riding a good wave coming off of last season. Last year the Cats won the Southeastern Division Championship and made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The Cats' winning ways were accompanied by a generous boost in home game attendance last season as well. The team was winning and there were people coming to watch; that's a formula for success.
For now, the seats at the BT&T Center are empty and the longer the NHL lockout goes on the more difficult it will be to fill those seats again. Hockey is a niche sport in this area of the country to begin with.
The Cats have are usually forced to compete with the Miami Dolphins and Miami Heat for fans in a normal season. This season the team has to compete with other sports as well as their own failures in negotiation. With any luck the two sides will come to an agreement before too many fans are lost for good.
More from this contributor:
All schedule information from Yahoo! Sports
All lockout information from NHL.com
Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- NHL lockout
- NHL Players Association