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Hello Miami, NHL History in the Making

If a game between the Coyotes and Panthers take place, does anyone see it? The NHL has a problem and it doesn't take much effort to spot it when looking over this season's average home attendance figures.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NHL has a problem and it doesn't take much effort to spot it when looking over this season's average home attendance figures.

In fact, all four major sports have the same problem.

Miami is a bad sports town and it has been that way for a long time, so I'm not breaking new ground here.

The Florida Panthers have hosted 11 games this season, averaging just 8,872 per game.

In this century, New York Islanders currently own the worst average home attendance at 11,059 during the 2010-2011 season.

Not even Mike Milbury wrecked the Islanders home ice figures like we're seeing in Miami.

You have to go back to the 1998-1999 Carolina Hurricanes, who had 8,187 fans per game in their second season. Those first two seasons after moving from Hartford were played in Greensboro, North Carolina, a lovely 90-minute drive from Raleigh, their current home.

Before the Hurricanes, it was the 1990-1991 Stanley Cup losing Minnesota North Stars at 7,838 that had their franchise's worst attendance figure. The North Stars would play two more years in Minnesota before moving to Dallas.

If you look at the 47 franchises in the NHL's history using's attendance tracker18 franchises had their worst average home attendance in the first season, six in their second season, two in their only season (duh!), two in their third season, and two in their final season.

The Florida Panthers are in their 21st season in the NHL.

When the North Stars moved to Dallas, they were in the league 26 years.

The NHL doesn't need Miami or anywhere in southern Florida.

It is time for the NHL to right a wrong and move the Panthers to a region that wants to support hockey.

According to Nielsen's 2014-2015 TV Household DMA rankings report, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale is 16th with 1,632,760 TV homes (1.435 % of TVs in US) by comparison, Pittsburgh is 22nd with 1,173,320 TV homes.

Back in February 2011, Miami Herald columnist Barry Jackson exposed just how poorly the Panthers were drawing on television with an average of 3,000 homes, which was worse than an infomercial.

Yet, there's Buffalo, not in the top 50 US markets, drawing the best tv ratings for games on NBC and NBC Sports Network, which is why they were scheduled for 11 games this season.

Before the season even started, Florida's owneship (Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu) released a letter to the fans saying, "Despite media speculation to the contrary, we have no plans or intentions to move this franchise." Later on saying, "It is no secret that the Panthers and BB&T Center have lost tremendous amounts of money over the last dozen years. We are working hard to address this situation, which we believe we can do with the support from our loyal fans, our business partners, the business community and our community-at-large."

Those were statements made before the joke of 8,872 per game was real.

So here we are, staring at an average hockey team, a terrible sports market, bad tv ratings, and embarrassing attendance figures but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman early in November said, "I don’t think it’s fair for the speculation on any franchise, including the Panthers, to be that it’s moving. The Panthers have good ownership that’s committed to South Florida and any speculation that the team’s future is anywhere but in South Florida is unfounded."

It isn't sustainable for any sports team, let alone one in the NHL, to have growing debt and an apathetic market.

We've seen instances where the NHL has tried to help franchises right itself but no one has stated on or off the record that such moves have been made to support the Panthers.

Now understanding it does the Panthers ownership and team no good to publicly comment on the possibility of relocation, just allow the financial reality paint the picture for you.

It is time to leave south Florida after this season, plastic rats and all.

The expansion and relocation hype machine continue to churn out cities like Seattle, Las Vegas, Quebec, and Toronto/Hamilton, but did everyone forget about the romance Kansas City had for the Penguins?

Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle were putting pressure on government leaders in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania to get a new arena for the Penguins and they used Quebec and Kansas City as a means to an end. It was unfortunate for Kansas City as they still have an empty Sprint Center and no longer the top destination for new hockey markets according to a number of reports over the last year.

It makes no sense to move an Eastern Conference team out West because it would mess up the balance of the league, which leaves the move to Quebec or Toronto/Hamilton.

Since the Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be no closer to winning another Stanley Cup, maybe it is time to give those born since 1967 a chance to experience winning or else, Toronto's status as hockey's mecca is nothing more than a story like Santa Claus.

* The below chart lists the worst home average attendance for every NHL Franchise according to*

Team Avg Season Comments
Anaheim Ducks 12,002 2001-2002
Atlanta Flames 10,024 1979-1980 *final season in Atlanta
Atlanta Thrashers 13,469 2010-2011 *final season in Atlanta
Boston Bruins 6,045 1926-1927 *first year in NHL
Buffalo Sabres 9,721 1970-1971 *first year in NHL
Calgary Flames 7,217 1980-1981 *first year in NHL
California Seals 4,584 1968-1969 *second year in NHL
Carolina Hurricanes 8,187 1998-1999 *second year in NHL
Chicago Blackhawks 3,318 1926-1927 *first year in NHL
Cleveland Barons 5,676 1977-1978 *last year in NHL
Colorado Avalanche 13,947 2009-2010
Colorado Rockies 6,080 1978-1979
Columbus Blue Jackets 13,658 2010-2011
Dallas Stars 14,227 2011-2012
Detroit Cougars 2,182 1926-1927 *first year in NHL
Detroit Falcons 5,425 1931-1932 *only year in NHL
Detroit Red Wings 4,480 1939-1940 *first year in NHL
Edmonton Oilers 12,335 1995-1996
Florida Panthers 13,278 1995-1996 *third year in NHL
Hartford Whalers 9,854 1979-1980 *first year in NHL
Kansas City Scouts 7,356 1974-1975 *first year in NHL
Los Angeles Kings 8,037 1967-1968 *first year in NHL
Minnesota North Stars 7,838 1990-1991
Minnesota Wild 17,773 2011-2012
Montreal Canadiens 5,075 1939-1940
Montreal Maroons 8,364 1926-1927 *first year in NHL
Nashville Predators 13,157 2003-2004
New Jersey Devils 11,049 1986-1987
New York Americans 5,591 1926-1927 *second year in NHL
New York Islanders 9,748 1999-2000
New York Rangers 7,091 1926-1927 *first year in NHL
Ottawa Senators (1) 3,719 1926-1927 *first year in NHL
Ottawa Senators (2) 9,879 1994-1995 *third year in NHL
Philadelphia Flyers 9,625 1967-1968 *first year in NHL
Phoenix Coyotes (Arizona) 11,989 2009-2010
Pittsburgh Penguins 6,008 1968-1969 *second year in NHL
Pittsburgh Pirates 1,818 1927-1928 *second year in NHL
Quebec Nordiques 10,742 1979-1980 *first year in NHL
San Jose Sharks 10,888 1991-1992 *first year in NHL
St. Louis Blues 8,897 1967-1968 *first year in NHL
Tampa Bay Lightning 10,014 1992-1993 *first year in NHL
Toronto Maple Leafs 4,591 1927-1928 *first year in NHL
Toronto St Pats/Maple Leafs 4,500 1926-1927 only year in NHL
Vancouver Canucks 10,406 1986-1987
Washington Capitals 9,835 1975-1976 *second year in NHL
Winnipeg Jets (1) 11,316 1995-1996 *last year in NHL
Winnipeg Jets (2) 15,004 2011-2012 *avg first 3 years in NHL