Saw the following just this morning by the Toronto Globe & Mail's William Houston dropping this bomb:
"In Florida, The Palm Beach Post decided last week to discontinue staff coverage of the Florida Panthers. The Post's veteran beat writer, Brian Biggane, was assigned to the Miami Dolphins. None of the Panthers' home or away games will be staffed by the Post." (Emphasis mine.)
First off, I like Biggane. I've enjoyed his insights on the team, and wish him the best in his new assignment with the Dolphins. That said, the real crime here is that media presence (such as it was) is now non-existent in the northernmost portion of the Panthers' local market.
North of the South Florida (read Ft. Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel, no other newspaper covers the team. This essentially leaves all of Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties without local coverage.
I'm aware of the current trend whereby financial cutbacks in many newsrooms are eliminating coverage of some sports in general, hockey in particular.
Combine this with Fox Sports Florida's decision to televise 65 of 82 games (down from 70), no local radio broadcasts of the preseason (not one!), and it becomes painfully obvious that we as fans are getting squeezed, and squeezed hard. Without the internet, would we know the team existed?
I don't remember hearing of any team-outreach festivities or player appearances in my area (northern Palm Beach County). Network TV affiliates and non-sports radio in this market seem to flat-out refuse giving 10 seconds of airtime for a game recap, much less a score.
This is all quite familiar to those of us down here struggling to follow our team, a team who has in recent months made better, stronger efforts to connect with the community.
I have attempted to contact several Panthers inner-office-types, as well as the Palm Beach Post for comment regarding the Post's decision, and will pass along whatever may be learned, on what is a disgusting - but unsurprising - bit of news.