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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Time For The AHL To Come To FLA?

The Florida Panthers rocky relationship with their farm club, the Rochester Americans, will most likely be coming to an end after the 2010-2011 season. The main reason for the split, among others, is because the Panthers never forked over some money to help pay for the veteran players on the Amerks after they promised they would.

With the partnership ending that will leave the Panthers prospects without a place to officially play. I am sure the Panthers will fine another farm team out there, but before they go sending the boys off to play in Alaska or some other far off place why not consider staying close to home? Why not give AHL hockey a chance in the sunshine state?

Minor league hockey is nothing new to Florida. The Florida Everblades of the ECHL has a very strong following on the west coast in Fort. Myers. Orlando also had the Solar Bears, an IHL team that won the Turner Cup in 2001, the last year of the league before it folded. The issue with the Solar Bears though was attendance. Even though they had a good product on the ice, the people in Orlando didn't seem that interested.

There are plenty of other places in Florida that an AHL team might work. Let us forget Sunrise and Tampa since both areas already have NHL teams. Some other spots that come to mind would be Jacksonville, Miami, West Palm Beach, or maybe even give Orlando another chance. Of course the Panthers will have to help out and show interest in their farm club, which one has to think that the Panthers will do so and learn from their mistakes they made with the Amerks.

Time to bring back the Bears?

Not only will an AHL team in Florida be a good gauge for the growth of hockey in the sunshine state, but it will also help out with the traveling of prospects called up and sent down. Many times you hear from Panthers staff and players that traveling from Rochester to Florida and Florida to Rochester is taxing on guys, especially when they arrive on the day of the game. If you want a good example, look no further then Shawn Matthias.

So what do you all think? Would you like to see an AHL team in Florida? Do you think that one of the areas listed would be a good choice, or would you pick somewhere else? Or would you just like to see the Cats create a partnership with an already established AHL team?

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