TNT will carry the Lightning-Panthers series on days it does not have the NBA Western Conference FinalsSAM NAVARRO/USA TODAY SPORTS
NHL and new TV partner Turner Broadcasting “did the Florida Panthers no favors” when it came to scheduling their second-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series, as all four home games are “in direct conflict” with the Heat, according to George Richards of FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW. TNT is contracted to have the games played, but the Panthers will be “competing locally” with the Heat. TNT will carry the Lightning-Panthers series “on days it does not have” the NBA Western Conference Finals. ESPN took Rangers-Hurricanes, and that series' schedule and “would have fit” Lightning-Panthers "perfectly -- and eliminated all conflicts with the Heat." In this market, “looking at the larger picture,” the Heat “reign supreme.” As far as physical fans in the building go, the Panthers and Heat “have a different season ticket base.” The Panthers are “Broward and Palm Beach heavy, but there are some fans who try and attend both when they can” (FLORIDAHOCKEYNOW.com, 5/16).
PICK & CHOOSE: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde wrote what will be a “fun time, maybe a memorable time” for South Florida sports is “a little less so because of the overlapping schedule.” It "hurts the Panthers more than the Heat." There is "no one looking out for local fans in this decision." It was "dictated by TV executives looking out for their investments." ESPN, with the first choice, took Rangers-Canes. Hyde: “Where was NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman? Didn’t he need to stand up for the Panthers in this fight? Well, this is the first year the NHL is back to a big television stage with ESPN and TNT. He had little leverage in pushing for the Panthers’ best” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 5/16).