Well, even though the Florida Panthers are in first place, things do appear to be back to normal when it comes to the FHN Mailbag: Quite a few questions about the future of third or alternate jerseys make a comeback.
Of course, there were plenty of other questions you all had.
Like about the power play and Andrew Brunette’s future behind the bench.
The Panthers, who go for 11-0 at home tonight against the Flyers, have not been exactly been packing the arena in Sunrise.
That gets brought up as well.
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Now, on to the questions!
Is there any concern that despite the Panthers stellar record, attendance seems to be lagging? It does seem to be a league wide issue, but you would like to see better numbers given the quality of the team. — Ben K.
Yeah, it is a league-wide problem and the NHL is not alone. NBA teams have felt it as well.
And, none of this is new. Both the NHL and NBA seasons are simply way too long.
It is tough to sell October and November games when your casual fan knows there are 82 of them and one early in the season really doesn’t hold much weight into what ultimately happens to your team in the end.
As far as the Panthers are concerned, they have always struggled to sell tickets early in the season.
They do not have a large season ticket base so they are counting on walk-ups to fill what is an enormous arena.
Going into Wednesday’s game against the Flyers, Florida’s average of 13,112 ranks 26th in the 32-team league. FLA Live Arena being at 77 percent capacity also ranks 26th.
I am not going to tell people how to spend their money but yes, management is disappointed when it looks at the standings and then looks out and sees a bunch of empty seats every night.
Players will never say it publicly, but there is disappointment there as well.
But, welcome to South Florida.
Every team down here — save for the Heat, which directly competes for the sports dollar with the Panthers and usually plays on the same night — struggles when it comes to attendance.
I am sure the Tampa Bay Lightning, even with all the winning, are thankful not to compete head-to-head with an NBA team.
And even if Tampa had an NBA team, it probably would share Amalie Arena meaning when one was away, one would be home.
The Panthers and Heat play home games on the same night a lot.
As we move forward, I expect that 13,111 number to grow substantially and Florida to end the season closer to 90 percent capacity.
How do you feel about the crowd size and noise level so far? — @Trainboy100
The crowd size has been smaller than one would think for a team of this caliber but there is plenty of time to make up for that.
But the noise has been impressive. It gets loud in that barn.
When is the earliest Huby can be resigned? — @AndrewLevine5
This year, the free agency period will start on July 13.
Huberdeau will be able to sign an extension with the team on that day.
Do you think the Q scandal and resignation is having a continuing impact on the team? Will Burnette become the non-interim coach? Finally, who do you think might emerge as power play quarterback? — drjoel33
Read below for the power play question.
As for the coaching change, any residual affect has already been felt and dealt with.
This is Andrew Brunette’s team for now — and potentially for the foreseeable future as far as I can tell.
The four current lines have been playing really well together. We know when Barkov comes back, we’ll probably go back to the fourth line alternating between Thornton and Luostarinen as center on that line. We’ve seen Mamin and Lomberg both in on that 4th line, although it seems to have better chemistry with Lomberg than Mamin so far. When Marchment comes back, how do you think that third and fourth line shakes out? And the other really big one is if Acciari does make it back to the lineup somewhere late in the season, what does that do to the lines? — Bryan Geary
Remember when we talked about this being the deepest Florida team ever? It is going to be interesting to see where everyone shakes in upon being healthy, but that is assuming everyone will be healthy at the same time.
We haven’t seen Marchment skating in a while so his return is not imminent and neither is Acciari. Barkov should be back and that will move Lundell back to the third line; I don’t see Mamin replacing Lomberg any time soon — Lomberg is on a roll — but Thornton would.
Two questions: Why do you think the power is underperforming? Your best odds on Brunette coaching the Panthers long-term. — Jon Baldwin
It looks like they are trying to be too fancy, looking for that perfect look. Aggressive teams take advantage of the passing, as well. There is a lot of talent out there, it will start clicking.
As far as odds go, I would not be surprised to see him finish the season. And if that happens, he will likely stay.
Are the Panthers going to use their reverse retros this season? — @SerBronn227
No, those were a one-time only thing for all of the NHL teams.
But next year, the NHL and Adidas is brining them back — they just won’t be the ones from last season. They will be new ones.
Let’s talk third jerseys GR… what’s the status on them? — @RedSteeg32
Hey George do you think the panthers will ever get an alternate jersey. Not counting the reverse retro. — @frankyboy1990
Yeah, I think they will have one eventually and no one can really give me a good reason why they haven’t yet.
I know they have designs and plans and everything else, but they like what they currently have although the rebranding of the team is now over five years old.
I believe the problem with the power play is Aaron sadly. He could be moved to the left side. Is there another player that could step up to filled out Yandle spot? Who could be acquired later in the season? — Miguel Villanueva
The Panthers are going to be shopping at the deadline — this team will definitely be a buyer. Ekblad will end up being fine on the power play with a little bit of work and getting used to the new responsibility.
On the PP Ekblad is a better shooter on the wing instead of as a quarterback. Would you put Huby the best passer on point and Ekblad on wing for PP1? — @1panther
I am sure they have thought of that but Ekblad does have the stronger shot and you want those shots from the point to get through traffic and what not. You also like having a defenseman up top in case the puck heads back the other way.
George, Panther Twitter is really only happy with it has something to complain about but with the Panthers stellar start, it’s kind of hard to find something to complain about. Could you help us out and make some suggestions? — Lucarel
How about no alternate jerseys?
Where is the Panthers Press Box? — @SerBronn227
Find me a sponsor and I will bring it back. It’s a lot of work to do a podcast on the regular and not get anything out of it. I know a lot of people do them for fun and all, but I have been staying plenty busy just trying to cover this team every day.
Plus, once I get to 1,000 subscribers on YouTube, I plan to make a video podcast.
Looking into your short term crystal ball, can you see a scenario where both Weegar and Forsling are extended in FLA? — @TheImpatientPa3
Forsling just got a three-year extension so no one is worried about him right now. Weegar is signed through next year so he is the immediate worry when it comes to new deals.
But based on the salary cap, how each player has elevated their game, I would have to say no.
What other players play tennis with Barky? — @calvey4r
I would think Anton Lundell is a new court partner and I have heard that Aaron Ekblad has gone out there a few times. I know the coaching staff likes playing tennis and have been out there with Barkov on occasion.
Is interim coach committed to playing Hornquist pp1 and if not why not? — @jackdpmjd
Hornqvist has been getting time on the first power play unit since the season started although Sam Reinhart has moved back up into the spot.
He does have one power play goal this season (against Carolina) and he definitely produced there last season.
Listen, Brunette ran the power play last year so he knows what Hornqvist can do — and what things look like without him.
Do you know when we could expect to see some of the players on IR to be back? Nutivaara, Juolevi, Marchment? — Jari Jarvinen
Have not seen any of them on the ice in a while. Noel Acciari is not wearing his arm brace anymore so that is a positive.
George, any insights as to how the shared joint AHL situation is benefiting/not benefiting our players? Do they have separate skills/strategy/video sessions? Surely Seattle’s philosophical approach to playing hockey isn’t in total lockstep with Florida’s. How do they reconcile that…if they reconcile it at all? — Ed Purchase
I haven’t looked that deep into the Florida/Seattle dynamic but when camp started it just sounds like they are one team trying to win together.
Don’t think there are separate meetings or anything because that did not happen in Syracuse. They are just trying to win some games.
Is Juolevi still hurt and if he is healthy will he play for the panthers? — Vincent
We think he is still hurt. No one is saying and we haven’t seen him on the ice. He went on the IR before the opener, went to Charlotte on a rehab stint only to return and go back on the IR.
You would think he will get a chance to play when he’s healthy. We shall see.
Question for both George and Colby: Is cereal a soup? — Redacted
My initial thought was no. But the more I think about it, maybe?
One would think soup has to be cooked, but you don’t cook Gazpacho and that is considered a soup.
Others may say a soup takes on the flavors of its ingredients but so does cereal. Ever drink the milk when the cereal is gone? Of course. It’s the best part — depending on the flavor of the cereal.
Thing is, the preparation may be the deal breaker.
Soup takes hours (unless it’s simply warmed up out of a can) to make while cereal can be served in a matter of seconds.
Both can be a meal, however, so … make your own conclusions.
Since it’s a mailbag — who’s the best fictional mail carrier? Cliff from Cheers, Newman from Seinfeld, Reba from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Myron from Jingle All The Way? — @DavidDwork