NHL Rumors: Florida Panthers Named as Hosts for 2021 All-Star Game

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2020

Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky hits the ice during warmups before the start of an NHL hockey game against the Ottawa Senators, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019 in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The Florida Panthers will host the 2021 NHL All-Star Game and its festivities at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, according to George Richards of The Athletic.

It will mark the second time the Panthers have hosted the All-Star Game, as they previously welcomed the event in 2003. The 2003 All-Star Game was decided by a shootout for the first time ever, with the Western Conference beating the Eastern Conference 6-5.

The 2020 All-Star Game will take place at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Sunday.

Florida isn't usually considered a hockey hotbed, and the Panthers aren't particularly changing that perception this season. They are 29th out of 31 teams in attendance with 13,472 fans per game.

Hockey has proved to be sustainable in the state, though, as the Tampa Bay Lightning are sixth in attendance and have had one of the more loyal and passionate fanbases in recent years due largely to their on-ice success.

The Panthers haven't been able to measure up, with no playoff appearances since the 2015-16 season and only two playoff berths in the past 18 campaigns entering 2019-20.

They seem to be on the ascent, though. The team is third in the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division with 59 points, which means Florida is in line to return to the postseason. The Panthers also boast a supremely talented group of skaters led by forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, who have 64 and 53 points, respectively, this campaign.

Forwards Evgenii Dadonov (39 points), Mike Hoffman (38 points), Brett Connolly (29 points) and Vincent Trocheck (28 points), as well as defensemen Keith Yandle (39 points) and Aaron Ekblad (27 points), have also been productive.

Florida is first in the NHL with 3.67 goals per game, and if the Panthers can maintain that level of play, then they may have more excitement surrounding them than ever entering the 2021 All-Star Game.