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Florida Panthers not concerned with sparse gathering for exhibition game

Tweeted photo of crowd for afternoon Florida Panthers exhibition NHL game

courtesy of Erin Brown

The Globe's Robert MacLeod curates the best of sports on the web Monday to Friday

The National Hockey League pre-season schedule is now in full swing and fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs are once again displaying their unwavering affection for the boys in blue.

More than 19,000 fans crammed into the Air Canada Centre to watch the Maple Leafs take on the Philadelphia Flyers, a game that the Flyers won 3-2 in a shootout.

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The rabid support is not something enjoyed by all NHL teams.

As this picture illustrates, a pre-season afternoon hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., between the home-town Florida Panthers and the Nashville Predators did not exactly have fans streaming through the turnstiles.

Trickling through would be a more apt description.

The picture was tweeted courtesy of Erin Brown, Florida Panthers correspondent for Fox Sports Florida, and it appears that the players outnumber the fans as they line up for the playing of the U.S. national anthem.

Greg Wyshynski, the editor of Puck Daddy blog on Yahoo Sports, contacted Panthers president Michael Yormark and he said the turnout in no way reflects the franchise's expectation for the upcoming season.

Curiously enough, the Panthers official game summary of the contest, the first of a split-squad doubleheader against the Predators, did not contain an official attendance figure.

The second game, with a 7:07 p.m. (EST) start as opposed to the 2:36 p.m. start for the earlier contest, drew 6,541 fans.

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Maybe this news will help raise the interest level in Florida.

Harvey Fialkov, writing for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, confirmed that the Panthers have signed former Bruins goalie Tim Thomas to a professional tryout contract.

Thomas is expected to be at practice with his new teammates on Tuesday.

Bengals maul the Steelers

Unless you are a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Monday's 20-10 victory by the Bengals was a rather humdrum affair at Paul Brown Stadium.

As Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Inquirer writes, it was nevertheless an ego-boosting moment for a fragile Bengals outfit that entered the game with a 7-20 record against their rival dating back to October, 2000.

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With the loss, the Steelers fell to 0-2 on the NFL season, and the obit writers are already sharpening their pens.

As noted by Chris Burke, writing for, the Steelers have not really been the same since their wild-card playoff loss to the Denver Broncos two years ago.

Kevin Seifert, writing for, said that the Steelers looked "old, slow and…a little soft."

In Washington, where even the team's nickname has been under attack, the 0-2 start by the football team has some fans yammering for the benching of quarterback Robert Griffin III.

The darling of the NFL just a year ago, Griffin underwent knee surgery in the off-season and has been tentative, to say the least, in his first two starts of 2013 for the Redskins.

Washington next plays the Detroit Lions on Sunday and some are of the opinion that Griffin should sit to make way for backup Kirk Cousins.

That scenario was scoffed at by Washington coach Mike Shanahan writes Mark Maske in the Washington Post, who argues that Griffin is capable of doing all the things the Redskins are asking.

Myers swinging a hot bat

The Tampa Bay Rays began a crucial series against fellow American League wild-card contender Texas Rangers and it was the bat of rookie  that propelled Tampa to a 6-2 victory.

Tom Jones, writing for the Tamp Bay Times, says that Rays' manager Joe Maddon refers to Myers as fictional race car driver Ricky Bobby, the Will Ferrell movie character, because the rookie's unflagging confidence.

Charley Marcuse had evolved into something of a cult figure at Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers, as the singing hot-dog vendor.

After 15 years on the job, the Detroit News is reporting that Marcuse has been fired, apparently for giving patrons a hard time for their preference to spread ketchup on their 'dogs instead of just mustard.

Monday's game between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves was cancelled after the shootings at the Naval headquarters and will be made up during a Tuesday day-night doubleheader.

"Nobody is thinking about baseball. Baseball is just a game," Atlanta pitcher Scott Downs said after the decision was made.

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