Team Profile: The Florida Panthers

The Panthers are a relatively young team with a very short history. So this will be brief!

Here’s a summary:

  • Located in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference
  • Founded in 1993
  • Based in Sunrise, Florida (sounds like a fake city from the Sims, but it obviously exists…)
  • Play at the BB&T Center
  • Owned by Sunset Sports and Entertainment
  • GM is Tom Rowe
  • Head Coach is Gerard Gallant
  • Captain is Willie Mitchell
  • Minor League Affiliate: Springfield Thunderbirds

Instead of delving into the history of the team (which is not quite as long as that of the Bruins, but still), here are some interesting facts, tidbits about the team.

The franchise was awarded to Wayne Huizenga, then a partial owner of Blockbuster, at the same time that the Disney Company was awarded a franchise in Anaheim.

The Panthers had one of the most successful first seasons of any expansion team (we’ll wait and see how Vegas does). They narrowly missed the playoffs that year.

Ever wonder why the crowds throw plastic rats onto the ice? Before the home opener of the 1995-96 season, a rat ran across the team’s locker room. Scott Mellanby apparently reacted by one-timing it against the wall, killing the poor rat. He went on to score 2 goals that game. Thus the ‘Rat-Trick’ was born. And now the crowd celebrates goals by throwing fake rats onto the ice (which earned the team a Delay of Game penalty this past season…)

The Panthers would make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996 for the first and only time so far. They were unfortunately swept in 4 games by the Avalanche.

The team has had a relatively poor record through the early 2000’s up until recently.

The Panthers traded Luongo away in 2006, only to re-acquire him in 2014. Trading Luongo away to Vancouver is apparently considered one of the worst trades in history since Lu was at the prime of his goaltending career.

Luongo is also the first goaltender to be named captain of an NHL team.

2014 saw the Panthers reach new lows in attendance. Their home opener had 11,419 spectators, while their next home game had only 7,311.

This past season the team set a franchise record with a 12 game win streak. They also set a franchise record for most wins in a season, coming in first place of the Atlantic Division. Despite their success, they were eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Islanders.

At some point this season, Kevin Spacey became their unofficial mascot. Rumor is one of the players bumped into him earlier in the season before the team went on their win streak. The team started passing around a “Spacey in Space” hoodie to the player with the best performance that game.

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Jaromir Jagr in the ‘Spacey in Space’ hoodie (@FlaPanthers/Twitter)

They recently unveiled their new, updated logo and uniforms for the coming season.

Notable Players:

  • Scott Mellanby
  • Pavel Bure
  • Rob Niedermayer
  • Roberto Luongo
  • Robert Svehla
  • The Ageless Wonder, Jaromir Jagr
  • Olli Jokinen

The Florida Panthers are definitely a team to watch moving forward. As a team in a non-traditional hockey market, it seems like they are just now establishing themselves as a solid contender.

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Erik Gudbranson cleaning up rats thrown onto the ice by fans (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)

 

 

Team Profiles: The Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes, though an older team than the Lightning, have far less controversy to add bullet points. I tried my best, Carolina.

A brief overview:
Eastern Conference
Metropolitan Division
Established: 1971, joined NHL in 1979
Arena: PNC Arena
AHL Affiliate: Charlotte Checkers
Owner: Peter Karmanos
Coach: Bill Peters
Notable Former Players: Ron Francis, Chris Pronger
Current Captain: Vacant (at time of posting), previously Eric Staal until trade to Rangers
Goalies: Cam Ward, Eddie Lack
Notable Current Players: Jeff Skinner, Nathan Gerbe, Noah Hanifin, Justin Faulk

A few facts:
Started as the New England Whalers in 1971 in the World Hockey Association (WHA) and played in Boston, Mass.

The Whalers shared the Boston Garden with the Bruins. Scheduling conflicts with the Bruins caused the team to move to Hartford, Connecticut in 1974.

The NHL and WHA merged in 1979 and they renamed themselves the Hartford Whalers.

Gordie Howe was a part of the Whalers front office.

Because Hartford was in between the territories for the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, it was hard to market the Whalers. Because of this, Peter Karmanos moved his team to Raleigh, Carolina and renamed the franchise the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997.

When the won the Stanley Cup in 2006, they were the first professional sports franchise to win a championship for a North Carolina team.

Cam Ward was given the Conn Smythe, only the fourth rookie to ever receive the award.

The logo is a take on the ‘Storm Warning Flag’ used on beaches.

The Hurricanes just robbed the Blackhawks to get Teuvo Teravainen (and got Bryan Bickell for free).

Team Profiles: The Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning have an interesting history despite the age of the team.

A brief overview:
Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Established: 1992
Arena: Amelia Arena
AHL Affiliate: Syracuse Crunch
Owner: Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment
Coach: Jon Cooper
Best Known Line: Vaclav Prospal, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis (MVP line)
Notable Former Players: Martin St Louis, Vincent Lecavalier
Current Captain: Steven Stamkos (at time of posting)
Goalies: Ben Bishop, Andrei Vasilevskiy
Notable Current Players: Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov

Some interesting facts:
In one of their first preseasons games in 1992, Manon Rhéaume played for the Lightning against the Blues making her the first woman to play any major professional sport in North America.

Named the Lightning because Tampa Bay is known as the “Lightning Capital of North America”.

NHL announced the desire for an expansion in the 1980s that lead to two groups trying to get a team: one lead by the owners who would eventually get the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, and Tony and Phil Esposito.

The Espositos looked like they weren’t going to be able to afford the franchise until they got backing from a Japanese golf course and resort, Kokusai Green. Kokusai Green’s owner, Takashi Okubo, never met Esposito in person, never saw his team play, and never went to Tampa. There were rumors that the team was a front for the yakuza (Japanese crime family).

The franchise was investigated by the IRS in 1994 and 1995 and owed $750,000 in back taxes.

Because of all the fiscal problems the team was having, the NHL told Okubo that he would have to sell the team by 1998 or they would take it over. In 1997, the team’s debt was 236% of its value, the highest debt of any major North American sports franchise.

The Lightning changed hands several times, and struggled through several seasons before winning the Cup in 2003, though they didn’t really find a strong footing until the 2009-2010 season.

Despite their rocky start, the Lightning have become a team that can compete with the best, as we’ve seen by their recent playoff appearances. They have several of the leagues strong players and definitely shouldn’t be underestimated.

Team Profile: The Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings, as an original six team have a fascinating and rich history that will only be briefly delved into as to not drown everyone in information.

A quick overview of the team:
Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Established: 1926
Arena: Joe Louis Arena
AHL Affiliate: Grand Rapids Griffins
Owner: Olympia Entertainment
Coach: Jeff Blashill
Best Known Line: The Grind Line: Kris Draper, Joe Kocur/Darren McCarty, and Kirk Maltby, The Russian Five: Slava Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov as defense; Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov as forwards (aka the KLM line)
Notable Former Players: Viacheslav “Slava” Fetisov, Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman
Current Captain: Henrik Zetterberg
Goalies: Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek
Notable Current Players: Dylan Larkin, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Pavel Datsyuk

A few facts:
Established in 1926 as part of the original six under the name the Detroit Cougars. In 1930, the name changed to the Detroit Falcons, and finally became the Red Wings in 1932.

When the team was first established, there was no arena ready in Detroit, so the team played their first season in Windsor, Ontario.

Most Stanley Cups of any American team in the league.

“Hockeytown” is used to refer to Detroit, and the term is trademarked and owned by the franchise.

Olympia Entertainment is part of Ilitch Holdings which also owns several others subsidiaries including the Detroit Tigers, MotorCity Casino, and Little Caesars Pizza.

1952 started the tradition of the octopus being thrown on the ice for Detroit as good luck. Eight legs for the eight wins it took to win the Stanley Cup at the time.

Participated in the longest game in NHL history that went to six overtime periods against the Montreal Maroons in 1936. The game lasted 176 minutes and ended at 2:25 in the morning.

Kris Draper was traded by the Winnipeg Jets to Detroit for $1 and he won four cups with them afterwards.

The Joseph Turner Memorial Cup is awarded to the winner of the IHL championship, and is named for one of two NHL’ers who died in service during WWII, who played as a goalie for the Red Wings before his deployment.

The Red Wings have the longest playoff streak of any team in the four major North American sports at 25 consecutive seasons.

The Red Wings are the only team in the league to sew the letters for the captain and the alternates on the right side of the jersey instead of the left.

In closing, let’s take a chance to honor Gordie Howe. Our thoughts go to his family. Rest in peace Mr. Hockey.

Team Profile: The Buffalo Sabres

A quick overview of the Buffalo Sabres:

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division
Established: 1970
Arena: First Niagara Center
AHL Affiliate: Rochester Americans
Owner: Terry Pegula
Coach: Dan Bylsma
Best Known Line: The French Connection: Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert
Notable Former Players: Pat LaFontaine, Danny Gare, Dominik Hasek, Tim Horton (yes, that Tim Horton)
Current Captain: Biran Gionta
Goalies: Robin Lehner, Chad Johnson
Notable Current Players: Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly

A few interesting tidbits about the team:

In 1970 when the Sabres were established, Buffalo also established their NFL team the Buffalo Bills and their NBA team the Buffalo Braves. They gained three professional sports teams in one summer, though the Braves are no longer in Buffalo.

When the NHL expanded in 1970, the Canucks were also established. The two expansion teams determined who would draft first by spinning a roulette wheel. When Buffalo won, they got Gilbert Perreault who scored an NHL record for rookies in his first season with them. In 1971 they drafted Rick Martin, who broke Perreault’s rookie record in his first season, and they got Rene Robert in a trade from Pittsburgh. This line, the French Connection, was one of the best in the league at the time.

In 1974-75 season, the Sabres played in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Flyers. Game three of the series was one of the most bizarre the league had seen. Because the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium had no air conditioning, the arena filled with fog. And in that same game, Buffalo center Jim Lorentz saw a bat flying through the fog and unintentionally killed it with his stick when he took a swing at it.

Advance to the cup finals twice, and lost both times. Once to the Flyers in 1975, and once to the Dallas Stars in 1999.

In 1974, the Sabres made fun of the drafting process by drafting a player who didn’t exist from a team that didn’t exist.

Lindy Ruff played for the Sabres.

The first goal scored by the Sabres was scored by Jim Watson, who only ever scored 4 goals in his entire NHL career.

Encil Palmer (who retired in 1995) was employed as a trainer and during games he would stand by the Zamboni door where the opponent net was during the 1st and 3rd. When pucks came around the boards, he’d kick the door and it would send the puck flying out into the crease in front of the opponent’s net, and they definitely scored a few times because of it. The arena was apparently already smaller than most, and this little trick made some people justifiably mad.

Rob Ray played for the Sabres from 1990 until 2003 and was notorious for taking off his jersey and pads during fights so his opponents would have nothing to grab onto. It is suspected that the NHL rules assessing additional penalties for removal of equipment during fights is a direct result of Ray’s style of fighting.

Team Profile: The Boston Bruins

So the Boston Bruins…

They are a bit of a polarizing team, but as one of the Original Six, there’s no doubt they have a rich and impressive history. Legacy and whatnot…

Here’s a brief overview:

  • Founded in 1924
  • Based in Boston, MA at TD Garden
  • Owned by the Jacobs family
  • GM is Don Sweeney
  • Head Coach is Claude (pronounced Clode) Julien
  • Captain is the super huge and scary Zdeno Chara
  • Minor League Affiliate: Providence Bruins
  • Have won 6 Stanley Cups

And some more in depth history. I’ll try to keep it brief…

The Boston Bruins were the first NHL expansion team created in the U.S. The first General Manager in the team’s history was Art Ross, who was with the franchise for the next 30 years. Ross was also the one who established the Bruin as the official mascot. A bruin, fyi, means bear. It’s Old English for bear, derived from the Dutch word for brown (the more you know…).

Despite a poor pair of debut seasons, by the 3rd, they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time, only to lose to the Ottawa Senators. They won their first cup in franchise history in 1929 after defeating the New York Rangers.

World War II caused a huge disruption throughout the League, and it wasn’t until the 1945-1946 season the Bruins returned to the Stanley Cup Finals.

In the 1950’s, the original owners, the Adams family, were forced to sell the team to Walter A. Brown, who was also the owner of the local NBA team, the Celtics.

The Bruins have the distinction of being the first NHL team to acquire and use a Zamboni after the inventor, Frank Zamboni, demonstrated it at Boston Garden to the management team in 1954. The original Model E was used until the 1980’s (although mostly on an emergency basis at that point) and was eventually given to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

On January 18, 1958, the first black player in NHL history stepped onto the ice as part of the Boston Bruins. Willie O’Ree played 45 games with the team from 1957-1961.

In the 60’s, the Adams family repurchased the Bruins from Brown and ushered in a new era for the team. From the 60’s through the 80’s, the “Big Bad Bruins” were one of the top teams in the league. The roster included notable players Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, along with several others. In 1970, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 29 years by defeating the St. Louis Blues in 4 games. The game was won in OT by Bobby Orr, and “The Goal” is one of hockey history’s most iconic moments.

In 1974, Don Cherry became the new head coach. Under his guidance, the Bruins adopted a more physical and grinding style.

Through the 1980’s the Bruins made the playoffs every year led by Ray Bourque and Rick Middleton. They did not make a Finals appearance until 1988, where they were swept in 4 games by the Oilers. In 1990 they once again lost in the Finals to the Oilers.

In the 1987-88 season the Bruins finally broke the Montreal Canadiens 57 year-long playoff win streak against them.  The Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens have one of the bitterest rivalries in all of sports to this day.

In 1991 and 1992, the Bruins lost 2 consecutive Conference Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins (led by Mario Lemieux). From that season on, the Bruins would not make it past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs until they won in 2011.

Getting into some more recent history, 2005 and onward saw the Bruins making several moves that led to the foundation of the team we see today. Chiarelli was hired as the GM, Zdeno Chara was acquired from the Senators. In 2007 Claude Julien was hired as the head coach.

In 2011, the Bruins won their 6th Stanley Cup and the first in 39 years by defeating the Vancouver Canucks in 7 games. Yes, this led to the Vancouver Riots…

2015 saw the firing of Chiarelli, replaced by Don Sweeney.

Since their Stanley Cup win in 2011, the Bruins have made one Finals appearance in their defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013. The past 2 seasons the Bruins have failed to make it into the playoffs.

Notable Players:

Basically a whole lot, but here are just a few.

  • Bobby Orr
  • Phil Esposito
  • Ray Bourque
  • Eddie Shore
  • Johnny Bucyk
  • Cam Neely
  • Milt Schmidt
  • Zdeno Chara
  • Patrice Bergeron
  • Tuukka Rask
  • Joe Thornton
  • Phil Kessel
  • Tyler Seguin

I know there are quite a few more, but for the sake of brevity (yeah right), I’ll stop there.

The Bruins have been criticized for some of the moves they have made with some of their players, (as tends to happen in general), the most recent example being the trade of our beloved Tyler Seguin. I’m not complaining, though…

The Bruins are an interesting team to watch. Their recent frustrations in missing the playoffs should really be a motivator to come out fighting next season.

This has been a (not so) brief history on the Boston Bruins. Stay tuned for the next profile coming soon!

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Bobby Orr and “The Goal”

We assigned ourselves homework…

 

So to stave off the hockey withdrawals, we will be posting team profiles a couple of times each week. We’ll be going over the history of each team to start. We’ll be starting out with the Atlantic Division and will be going in alphabetical order. So we’re looking forward to learning some more about each team. Stay tuned!

Caitlynn & Italia