The Florida Panthers are a National Hockey League team, based in Miami, Florida and playing in the suburb of Sunrise.
- Founded: 1993-1994
- Arena: Office Depot Center (capacity 19,452)
- Uniform colors: red, blue, gold, white
- Logo design: a panther (puma subspecies)
- Stanley Cup final appearances: 1 (1995-1996 (loss))
Franchise historyBlockbuster Video magnate Wayne Huizenga was awarded an NHL franchise for his native Miami in 1992. The team's first major stars were New York Rangers goalie castoff John Vanbiesbrouck, rookie Rob Niedermayer, and Scott Mellanby, who scored 30 goals. They had one of the most successful first seasons of any expansion team, finishing one point below .500 and narrowly missing out on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
After missing another close brush with the playoffs in 1994-1995, coach Roger Neilson was fired and replaced by Doug MacLean. They then acquired Ray Shepard from the San Jose Sharks on the trade deadline in 1996 and they looked towards the playoffs for the first time.
It came to an end in the Stanley Cup finals though. Their opponents, the Colorado Avalanche, would sweep the Panthers on Uwe Krupp's third-overtime goal in game 4. The next season, a team ravaged by injuries would lose to the New York Rangers on the first round. More injuries caused the team to have their worst record to that point in 1997-1998.
The Panthers moved into the National Car Rental Center (now known as Office Depot Center) in 1998, the new arena being the result of bickering and threatening to move the team. In 1999, they acquired Pavel Bure (the "Russian Rocket"), and they would reach the playoffs again in 2000 riding on his 58 goals.
Players of Note
Hall of Famers:
Not to be forgotten:
Florida Panthers official web site
For the animal species by this name, see Florida panther.