The Panthers are scheduled to raise their first team-related banner since 1996 on Opening Night against the Lightning. Floridas division-title banner is expected to hang near the 1996 Eastern Conference championship flag originally raised at Miami Arena.
Before winning the division championship last season, the Panthers had missed the playoffs for an NHL-record 10 consecutive seasons over a span of 11 years.
We had some sort of success last year and were anxious to get back and start where we left off, said center Stephen Weiss, who was drafted by the Panthers in 2003. It is disappointing. But thats the nature of this business sometimes. These things need to be done and well be patient and make sure well get a deal that makes sense for both sides so we dont have to keep doing this every four or five years.
The NHLPA came up with a unique proposal, one that caught the NHL by surprise. The players union would reduce its share from NHL revenues with that money being put into a franchise-assistance fund which commissioner Gary Bettman would be in control of.
That money could help out franchises which need a little extra financial boost. While there is revenue sharing the Panthers are thought to have cashed league checks in each of the seven years of the CBA it is a complex system that teams cannot count on to be there from year to year.
The NHLPAs plan, however, would let teams know that money as much as $25 million per season would be there for them in the future.
The NHL, which has rejected the NHLPAs proposals outright, says the unions projections for continued revenue growth at seven percent is too high and says teams like the Panthers will be fine if only from paying less salary.
The union feels there should be a better revenue-sharing system, with the big money franchises sharing more of the wealth. Teams like the Rangers and Bruins dont seem keen on helping out the likes of the Panthers and Hurricanes any more than they already are. That, the union says, is a problem.
Our proposal is for us to partner with the high-revenue teams to help out the teams which are hurting financially, said Mike Weaver, the Panthers defenseman who serves as the teams union representative. Giving them a little help financially and from a business standpoint gives the whole league structure. We gave up some concessions to do this. Were not telling the high-revenue teams to foot the entire bill. Were partners. Were willing to help out.