Should the NHL allow the Florida Panthers to play to full capacity at the BB&T Center if the Panthers advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
The State of Florida has given the Florida Panthers permission to play to full capacity in their opening-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning that starts Sunday at 7:30 PM ET at the BB&T Center.
However, the NHL has asked that the Panthers keep it below 50 percent of their 19,250 capacity for now.
That means 9,625 fans will be able to take in the first-ever Sunshine State rivalry playoff series between the Cats and the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Panthers team president Matt Caldwell says he expects those capacity limits at BB&T Center to rise if the Panthers can pull off the upset and knock off the champs in the first round.
“The first round will be just under 50 percent capacity,” Caldwell said. “Not everyone will have six feet and we have decreased that to three feet. Hopefully, we advance and we’ll look at it. If we get approved to increase capacity further, there won’t be as much social distancing as in the past. You start running out of space. That’s a good problem to have. Let’s get out of this first round and go from there.”
If that happens though, the hype around the team will rise rapidly and the Panthers bandwagon is sure to fill up. So then what?
Do the Florida Panthers, playing in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since The Year of The Rat and their stunning run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final, not try to pack their home games and seize the momentum this franchise has waited so long for?
This likely is already being debated within the confines of the Panthers’ offices and in calls with the NHL and will surely be a major topic of conversation if the Panthers do indeed shock the sports world and beat the Bolts!
Now on to the rest of your FHN Daily Links!
As mentioned above, the Panthers and Lightning kick their much-anticipated series off at 7:30 PM ET on Sunday night at the BB&T Center. On Thursday, the NHL announced the rest of that series schedule as well as five more of the eight opening series in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Florida Hockey Now)
Not only is Florida Panthers goalie Chris Driedger up for a major payday after this season but he’s also a very worthy candidate for the Masterton Trophy. (Florida Hockey Now)
Is former Florida Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant the lead candidate to become the next bench boss of the New York Rangers? The TSN NHL Insiders discuss that and more hot topics around the league in the latest edition of Insider Trading. (TSN)
Could this be a swan song for the longtime core of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs? (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
Speaking of the Penguins and the leader of that core, Sidney Crosby, can the New York Islanders finally beat Crosby in the playoffs? Sid is the collective daddy of the Isles! (NYI Hockey Now)
With David Krejci and Taylor Hall becoming one of the most dynamic duos in the NHL over the last month and looking to do so even more in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, their value on the 2021 unrestricted free agent market is soaring. Can the Boston Bruins afford to keep them together? Can they even sign one or the other? (Boston Hockey Now)
After passing Gordie Howe for the most games ever played in the NHL, San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau wants to keep playing next season. (San Jose Hockey Now)