The Florida Panthers announced Wednesday that BB&T Center will allow a limited arena capacity for all 28 Panthers regular season home games for the 2020-21 National Hockey League season.
"I think it's going to be awesome," Panthers forward Noel Acciari said. "Going from when we were in the bubble, it was a little dead and just having the fans in the rink, especially for us at home games, is huge. I think we'll feed off that because not many arenas are allowing that so we are fortunate in that sense."
"The fans get to see us play and we enjoy the support," Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville said. "We think we can get some excitement in the building and in the games."
The Panthers intend to open the season on Jan. 14 with a limited capacity of up to 25 percent. Fans will have to wear masks and there will be a health screening process prior to entering the building.
On the same day as the announcement, the Panthers developmental league received positive news.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are lending the Florida Panthers their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate for the upcoming season, Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois and Panthers General Manager Bill Zito jointly announced the plan Wednesday.
Florida's AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, opted out of the season, citing safety and logistical COVID-19 concerns, so the Lightning agreed to give the Panthers their AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch for the 2020-2021 season.
The Panthers will be able to assign players to the Crunch to train, practice and play. The Crunch coaching and support staff will remain intact.