Florida Panthers Tickets Continued
Founded: 1993-94 NHL season
Arena: BankAtlantic Center (Previously known as the National Car Rental Center, and later, Office Depot Center) (capacity 19,452)
Former Home Arena: Miami Arena (1993-1998)
Uniform colors: red, navy, gold, white
Team color jersey: Navy blue jersey with white, red and gold stripes at the bottom of sleeve and torso with red and gold stripes over the shoulders. Team logo (a leaping panther) centered on chest.
White jersey: White jersey with identical striping and logo as team color jersey.
Third Jersey: Red jersey with navy, gold and white stripes at bottom of sleeve and torso with navy and white stripes over the shoulders. Team logo is identical to other jerseys with the exception of a broken hockey stick in the panther's paws.
Logo design: a Florida panther (puma subspecies)
Mascot: Stanley C. Panther
Stanley Cup final appearances: 1 (1995-96 [lost])
Stanley Cup victories: 0
Blockbuster Video magnate Wayne Huizenga was awarded an NHL franchise for his native Miami in 1992. The team played at the Miami Arena, and its first major stars were New York Rangers goaltender 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 1994-95, coach Roger Neilson was fired and replaced by Doug MacLean. They then acquired Ray Sheppard from the San Jose Sharks on the trade deadline in 1996 and they looked towards the playoffs for the first time.
The 1996 playoffs were a dream for the Panthers. They upset the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins to reach the Stanley Cup finals. South Florida was euphoric. Against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, series comebacks were part of the astonishment.
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 1997-98.
The Panthers moved into the National Car Rental Center (now known as BankAtlantic 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"), in a blockbuster trade with the Vancouver Canucks. They would reach the playoffs again in 2000 riding on his 58 goals,
losing in the first round to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils.
The team slumped in the 2000-01 NHL season despite a 59 goal season from Bure. The following season, 2001-02, the Panthers would have their worst record ever. Bure struggled despite being reunited with his brother Valeri, and was traded to the New York Rangers on the 2002 trading deadline.