Sportress of Blogitude

Florida Panthers played host to Ottawa Senators and almost no one showed up (pics)

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What’s it like when an NHL game is held and almost no one bothers to show up? Just ask the Florida Panthers.

In an embarrassing display of abject fan apathy, photos were circulated on social media Monday night depicting a nearly empty BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., both before and during the game between the hometown Panthers and Ottawa Senators.

The official attendance number was reported to be 7,311 — the lowest turnout in franchise history — but as the photos uncomfortably indicate, far, far less fans were actually in the seats.

Poor attendance has been a blight on the struggling South Florida franchise for years, and talk of relocating the team to a more hockey-friendly market rears its head nearly every season.

Some perspective, though, is needed whenever the discussion turns to how early season crowds fail to show up at Panthers home games. As Puck Daddy notes (along with several other compelling arguments as to why overreacting to the images from Monday night may not be the fairest decision), four of the five smallest crowds in Panthers history have come in October, when the regular season is just getting started, often against teams not traditionally viewed as rivals, as is the case with the Senators on Monday night.

To wit:

Ouch. Not a good look, to be sure.

It certainly does not help that the Panthers traditionally have been a horrible team, a condition that historically has given fans few reasons to bother showing up.

Still, the disgraceful images of a nearly empty arena — not the first time, nor the last, when this issue has been documented (see here and here) — certainly do not help the hockey world at large to hold a favorable view regarding the wisdom of having an NHL team in such a non-traditional market, where fan apathy is the norm.

The embarrassing images such as the ones above have become far more commonplace than should be deemed acceptable. especially when there are several cities — many in Canada — where more fans would show up for a preseason practice than the amount of people who bothered to take in a regular season game in Sunrise on Monday night.

(top image credit: Gord Miller/Twitter)