NHL Mascot Laid Off

Times are tough for this National Hockey League team - just ask their former lead cheerleader.

Ed Millerby Ed Miller

In an era where the league is producing historic TV ratings and making money hand-over-fist, the latter is tearing the league apart.  The owners want this, the player’s association wants that, we just want hockey but with the lockout taking effect at 11:59pm last Saturday we might have a long wait.

There are a variety of people who are affected because of the work stoppage – from arena workers and others low on the totem pole, to NHL superstars, some of whom are heading to Russia to play tax-free.  But what about the unsung heroes – like the mascots?

Well, one mascot is going to have to file for unemployment this week.  On Tuesday, the Florida Panthers became a little more endangered when the franchise announced that the team was laying off a number of employees due to the risk of cancellation for the 2012-13 NHL season, the biggest of which was Stanley C. Panther, the Panthers’ mascot.

The mascot has been with the team since the Panthers inception into the league back in 1993 and debuted – along with the expansion club – on October 12, 1993 at Miami Arena.  The timing of the decision doesn’t exactly make a whole lot of sense, what with the team’s new “I Love Panthers Hockey” campaign that’s built on pride and – well, Panthers. 

Stanley might be laid off, but he is quickly becoming the unofficial mascot of the lockout.  It shows that the league and its teams are prepared to cut any corner in order to get exactly what it wants.  That’s fine though, as long as commissioner Gary Bettman continues to get his paycheck than that’s all that is important, because he knows the fans will return.

There is a little good news to this tale.  The person in the suit – no, he’s not real, sorry to ruin it – will likely be rehired when the lockout comes to an end.  Somebody, has to eat all those rats thrown on the ice, are we right?

Sorry, it was a slow NHL news day; is the lockout resolved yet!?

Ed is the lead hockey writer and a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller, and subscribe on Facebook @ CraveOnlineSports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images