NHL Week in Review (December 6-12)

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This week the Florida Panthers made a big announcement that they were set to change their branding.

Next year they will get a new colour scheme and will tweak their logo in what is clearly an attempt to become relevant in Florida.

It is a tough thing to do not only in the NHL but throughout the sports world as South Florida has been the toughest place for professional franchises.

There has rarely been a team that has been successful and remained successful over a long period of years.

The Miami Heat of the NBA were the closest until LeBron James left and once again they began to struggle.

The Panthers may have it worse than any other though as they not only have to battle that South Florida disinterest but they have to do so with a sport that is far from the norm in a place nicknamed the Sunshine State.

Earlier this year the battle to be relevant took another turn as the Panthers asked for a bailout from Broward County to keep the team alive.

For years they have been one of the worst teams, at least financially, in the NHL losing tens of millions of dollars every year.

Two weeks ago they asked the county for an $86 million bailout from the taxpayers to stay alive.

The county voted this week on the bailout and approved to give the team $86-million over the course of 13 years to help with expenses.

It is a big step for the Panthers who will get help to off-set their terrible attendance and their yearly losses.

The new logo and colour scheme will hopefully breathe new life into the franchise and help to off-set those costs themselves.

It sounds good as the Panthers are trying to rebuild their fan base but in reality it is not going to work to solve any of their problems.

When talk begins about teams struggling in the NHL the focus always goes to a team in the desert where many believe hockey doesn’t belong.

The Arizona Coyotes have had plenty of problems with their arena in constant flux and their relationship with the City of Glendale all but destroyed.hockey-sidebar

It seems like every year the talk surrounds the Coyotes and their eventual move to another city.

It only increases as the NHL looks to expansion and looks to try to find new places where hockey might be able to work.

Arizona becomes the first team mentioned when people talk about possible relocation but it might not be the first team that should be mentioned.

The panthers are a team that often avoids the talk of relocation but they might be the team that is more suited for relocation.

In Arizona the attendance is not great but they tend to have more people than empty seats even if they never sell out.

In Florida the attendance is painful and it is easily seen in every single game when almost every seat is empty.

The Panthers are often ignored when speaking of relocation but this latest request to the county is a sign that hockey is not working in South Florida.

No change in colour scheme or logo is going to change that as the Panthers are a struggling team with little interest from the fans in South Florida.

The bailout is a good sign for the team that their county is in support of the team, unlike in Glendale, but using taxpayer money to keep a sports team alive is far from a popular move.

That will be the last time they get this kind of help and any more issues and they will need to go it alone.

As the NHL looks to new markets they may want to look to relocation first and Florida should be at the top of the list as they continue to struggle through every season with no signs of improvement.

Overtime
(Other News this week in hockey)

Dupuis Calls it Quits
Pascal Dupuis decided to step away room the game he loves this week after years of struggling with health issues that have sidelined him over the past few seasons due to blood clots that have endangered not only his career but his life

Changes in Pittsburgh
The Penguins are used to being at the top of the standings every years since Sidney Crosby entered the league but this year they have struggled to stay relevant and as a result they are making changes firing head coach Mike Johnston

Expansion Stalls
The expansion talk in the NHL continues with only Las Vegas and Quebec City in the running after they were the only two cities to apply but it will not run as smoothly as once thought as no decision has been made and the NHL still has some major questions to answer

Stamkos Debate
This week TSN tweeted a conversation about whether the Toronto Maple Leafs should pursue Steven Stamkos who is set to be a free agent after the season that tweet was retweeted by Stamkos and immediately the debate began as many wondered if the tweet meant he was interested

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Key Scores:
Chicago Blackhawks 3 – 1 Winnipeg Jets
– The Blackhawks did not start their season too well but thanks to the unbelievable point streak of Patrick Kane who continued it against the Jets in a win that continued the rise through the standings in the toughest division in the league

Toronto Maple Leafs 3 – 2 New Jersey Devils (SO)
– It wasn’t as big as a player facing his old team but Lou Lamoriello spent almost his entire hockey career with the Devils until he became the GM of the Leafs and this was the first time he watched his old team from the other box with his new team coming out on top

Boston Bruins 3 – 1 Montreal Canadiens
– The old rivalry continued and after a great start to the season the Canadiens dropped the game in what was the beginning of a bad period that lasted all week with the Canadiens dropping four straight games

Edmonton Oilers 7 – 5 New York Rangers
– The Oilers are without their biggest addition in Connor McDavid but that hasn’t stopped them from making a run to the top of the western conference as they continue a great run that included beating the Rangers, one of the top teams in the east

Next Week:
Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Sunday December 13th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Canucks and Blackhawks have a history through the early years of the Blackhawks dynasty and although that short lived rivalry isn’t the same anymore there are still players that remember the nastiness and will always look to beat one another in this matchup

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Tuesday December 15th; 7:30 pm; ET)
– The Lightning and Leafs were linked for a long time this week when rumours of Stamkos wanting to play for his hometown team surfaced and now Stamkos goes back close to home against the team that some believe he is destined to play for

Los Angeles Kings vs. Montreal Canadiens (Thursday December 17th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Canadiens are struggling right now after a great start to the season and although they are not playing their best hockey they still rank among the best in the league and will take on another top team in the Kings who lead the Pacific Division

New York Rangers vs. Winnipeg Jets (Friday December 18th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Rangers continue to sit on top of their division and are looking to this game as a way to stay there while the Jets continue to fight for relevance in the toughest division in the league that requires teams to beat top teams regularly

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