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.

rats-ice-florida-160415-620
Erik Gudbranson cleaning up rats thrown onto the ice by fans (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)

 

 

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