Reilly Smith mocks Panthers’ attendance woes with joke about playing in front of empty arena


With the increasing likelihood of teams and leagues shutting fans out of arenas due to the coronavirus, plenty of people have taken the opportunity to deliver shots at teams that don’t draw big crowds to begin with. You can now add Vegas Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith to that list of jokesters.

On Wednesday morning, Smith was asked about the possibility of playing games in crowd-free arenas this season — something that seems almost inevitable at this point. Smith, who played two seasons with the Florida Panthers before being traded to Vegas, used the opportunity to burn his former team.

“I played in an empty building for a couple years in Florida so I’m used to it,” Smith said.

Ouch. It’s not the most original dig at this point, but I’m sure that one stings for the Florida fans who used to show up and cheer on Smith, however many of them there may be.

The Panthers, who play in Sunrise, Florida, are known (and frequently chirped) for consistently ranking near the bottom of the league in attendance on an annual basis. During Smith’s two seasons with the club from 2015-2017, the Panthers ranked 24th and 26th in average attendance, respectively.  

I guess it’s a joke that Smith can make these days considering Vegas Golden Knights tickets are some of the hottest in entire NHL. The team has hit 100-percent attendance rates in each of its three NHL seasons thus far. 

Perhaps Smith still harbors a little bitterness towards the Panthers organization after they jumped at the chance to trade him to Vegas at the 2017 expansion draft. But it was seemingly a blessing in disguise considering Smith and Jonathan Marchessault, who was also included in that trade, have gone on to find great success at the top of the Golden Knights’ lineup and get to play in front of one of the NHL’s best home atmospheres.

Perhaps it’s less about him being petty and more about him not being able to resist the low-hanging fruit.





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