Back in 2008, when Dale Tallon was still general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, he might have been able to sell tickets to the team's first practice of the year. But now he's the GM for our Florida Panthers. A completely different hockey market and completely different story.
Today the Blackhawks announced they had sold out the 18,000-seat United Center for the team's first practice. Those general-admission tickets were $5 apiece. Meanwhile, the Panthers are trying to lure fans by offering free admission to watch the team's first practice in a far more intimate venue: the Saveology.com IcePlex in Coral Springs.
So basically, there's no excuse, South Florida, for not catching Panthers fever this year. As Tallon will tell you, the Chicago Blackhawks were once a hopelessly pathetic franchise too. Now they've got 18,000 (mostly) fair-weather fans flocking to a single practice.