The NHL Lockout's First Casualty: Florida Has Laid Off Mascot Stanley C. Panther

A work stoppage in sports, obviously, affects more than the players and owners. It takes a ton of people to make hockey go, from referees and broadcasters to concessionaires and janitors. And it's always the little guys who are first to go when the money stops rolling in.

Some teams, like Washington, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota, have announced there will be no layoffs. Other teams can't afford to be so generous. Ottawa and Florida began cost-cutting measures today, announcing layoffs and shortened work weeks for the employees who remain. The Senators let go "more than 10" of their 170 full-time workers, and while the Panthers didn't publicly announce details, the Miami Herald's George Richards reports six employees were cut. But that's not the worst part (OK, it is the worst part, but play along):

Stanley, seen above in happier times, may have trouble finding work. His degree from the "Panther Preparatory School of South Florida" is more useless than a B.A. in philosophy in these tough economic times, and the sad fact is there's not much out there for a giant anthropomorphic cat on skates, who doesn't have retail experience or opposable thumbs.

Also, that's a real human being inside there, and now he's lost his income. This lockout sucks.