Florida Panthers

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The Florida Panthers are a professional ice hockey team based in Sunrise, Florida, in the South Florida metropolitan area. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). They play their games at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise and are the southernmost team in the NHL.

Contents

Franchise history

1990s

Blockbuster Video magnate H. Wayne Huizenga was awarded an NHL franchise for Miami on December 10, 1992. The Panthers were brought into the league with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and took part in the 1993 expansion draft, which was hosted by the Quebec Nordiques. The expansion draft produced 10 players that would be a part of the 1996 Eastern Conference championship team. 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. Their first game was a 4-4 tie on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks. The first win in franchise history was a 2-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Thunderdome before a then-NHL record crowd of 27,227. The Panthers had one of the most successful first seasons of any expansion team (and the best first year of any NHL team), finishing one point below .500 and narrowly missing out on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Their first-year success was attributed mainly to the "trap defense" that first-year coach Roger Neilson implemented. This conservative style was widely criticized by NHL teams; some even suggested that the Panthers were ruining the game at the time.[citation needed]

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