Florida Panthers

It may be hot in Florida, but that doesn’t stop fans from loving their cool hockey team, also known as the Cats. The Florida Panthers are a professional ice hockey team based in the Miami metropolitan area. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team's local broadcasting rights has been held by Fox Sports Florida (formerly SportsChannel Florida) since 1996. The team initially played their home games at Miami Arena, before moving to the BB&T Center in 1998. Located in Sunrise, Florida, the Panthers are the southernmost team in the NHL.

Sunrise is a city in central-western Broward County, Florida, United States, in the Miami metropolitan area. Originally known as Sunrise Golf Village, the City had a population of 4,300 and comprised just 1.75 square miles by 1967. Then, during the 1970s as Broward County began to push west the City experienced its first real growth. It was incorporated in 1961 by Norman Johnson a developer whose Upside-Down House attracted buyers to what was then a remote area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 84,439. It is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to an estimated 6,012,331 people at the 2015 census

The Florida Panthers began playing in the 1993–94 NHL season. The team has made one appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, in 1996, the only season in which the Panthers have ever won a playoff series, eventually losing the Finals to the Colorado Avalanche. The team advanced to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second time in 12 years in 2012, but were eliminated in seven games in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals by the New Jersey Devils, who eventually won the Eastern Conference championship that season. The club is affiliated with one minor league team, the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League.

The Panthers moved into the brand new National Car Rental Center (later Office Depot and BankAtlantic Center, now known as BB&T Center) in 1998. In 1998–99, they acquired Pavel Bure (the "Russian Rocket"), in a blockbuster trade with the Vancouver Canucks. They then reached the playoffs again in 1999–2000, losing in a first-round sweep to the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils. The team slumped in 2000–01. Afterward, Huizenga sold the Panthers to an ownership group led by Alan Cohen. The following season, 2001–02, the Panthers had their worst record ever. Bure struggled despite being reunited with his brother Valeri, and was traded to the Rangers at the 2002 trade deadline.

In the 2015–16 season, the team set a franchise record with a 12-game win streak. They also set a franchise record for most wins in a regular season with 47 wins and won their division for the second time in their existence. However, the Panthers lost to the New York Islanders in six games in the first round of the playoffs (this was the first playoff series win for the Islanders since the 1992–93 season). Head coach Gerard Gallant was nominated as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, which recognizes the NHL Coach of the Year.

The 2016–17 season began with the promotion of general manager Dale Tallon to an executive position within the organization and assistant general manager Tom Rowe was promoted to general manager. After an 11–10–1 start to the season, the Panthers fired head coach Gerard Gallant and general manager Tom Rowe took over as interim head coach. At the end of the season, Rowe was relieved of his duties as both coach and general manager and was named special advisor to Tallon, who returned to positions of team president and general manager. On June 12, 2017, the Panthers named Bob Boughner as their new head coach.

The Florida Panthers have an affiliation with a number of inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Inductees affiliated with the Panthers include six former players and two builders of the sport. Builders that have an affiliation with the Panthers include former head coach Roger Nielson, and Bill Torrey, former general manager of the Panthers. Former play-by-play commentator, Dave Strader was also a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame, for his contributions in hockey broadcasting.

The Panthers were one of the best teams in the league during the second half of the 2017-18 season, winning their final five games to cap off an incredible 25-8-2 stretch following the All-Star break that propelled the team to 96 points, the third-best campaign in franchise history. Unfortunately, that late-season surge fell one point short, as Florida became just the second team since the league adopted the shootout in 2005 to miss the playoffs with 96 points, joining the 2014-15 Boston Bruins a team that has made the playoffs each of the last two seasons.

The 2018-19 season marks the Florida Panthers’ 25th as a franchise. With five playoff appearances in their history, they haven’t been the epitome of success. However, despite lacking team success, there have been many players in franchise history who had great seasons that have stood the test of time. With their core in place, the Panthers have their sights on the playoffs and beyond in 2018-19. "I'm really excited," Panthers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Dale Tallon said. "We've got great commitment from owner, Vinnie Viola, we have a great young coaching staff, we have good scouts, we have a good system in place, we have good young players that finally believe and trust themselves and we'll take this to another level."

The experts agree with Tallon and are equally saying that the Panthers have an excellent chance of making the playoffs in 2019. To start off, the Cats have finally addressed possibly the biggest need that fans have highlighted for years, scoring depth. This issue was assessed in a few different ways. These different methodologies include transactions with other teams, drafting, and more. When it comes to the draft, the Florida Panthers have done very well when it came to building a core. This can be proven when looking back at recently drafted stars such as Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, and Aaron Ekblad. Recently, they have drafted prospects like Henrik Borgström and Owen Tippett who can probably crack the Panthers’ roster this season. With the smarts of the Panthers’ front office, the draft has helped the scoring depth issue. These are good reasons keep you just might see the Panthers make a strong run for the post-season and if they stay healthy and Roberto Luongo plays hot, they should be able to make it to the finals. Stay Tuned!