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The Florida Panthers became the second team to announce a round of layoffs this week after the National Hockey League locked out its players and initiated the fourth work stoppage in the last 20 years. Citing lost revenue due to the lockout, the Panthers reduced jobs in multiple departments.
The layoffs are so deep that the team mascot, Stanley C. Panther, is among the workers out of a job this week, according to The Miami Herald.
"Due primarily to the NHL work stoppage, but also due to changes and efficiencies in our normal business operations, SSE [Sunrise Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the team] and the Florida Panthers instituted a number of staff adjustments today including staff reductions," Panthers President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Yormark said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
"We thank all of those former staff members for their efforts," Yormark added. He said the team's human resource department will assist in finding jobs for those laid off.
Laying off the mascot is an unusual move. During the NBA and NFL lockouts of 2011, neither Burnie (the Miami Heat's mascot) nor TD (the Miami Dolphins') lost their jobs, though some Dolphins employees had their wages temporarily cut (but later repaid).
Tempting as it may be to make a joke about Stanley crashing on the couch at Sun Life Stadium or AmericanAirlines Arena, there is a real human being inside that suit, making the news all the more unfortunate.
The Panthers declined further comment. A number of other teams contacted by the Associated Press – including Buffalo, Carolina, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Washington, and Detroit – said they are not planning any layoffs at this time.
No games have been canceled as of Tuesday, but the cancellation of preseason games could happen as soon as this week. It is almost certain that preseason training camps will not open on time.
The Panthers are still attempting to operate business as usual. The team was still selling single-game and season tickets on Tuesday, including tickets for the scheduled opener against the Tamp Bay Lightning on Oct. 13.