Twenty six years Sixteen coaches. Ten general managers, including twice Dale Tallon and a group of brothers, Brian and Terry Murray.
There were five owners, not counting a group of eight investors, in front of beloved Miami quarterback Bernie Koser, who said that hockey was his “first and special love” from moving away from Alan Cohen’s big wallet. was earlier.
Cohen faded after four different seasons, telling People that he liked investing in horses more than hockey players, because “they don’t talk back.”
Cliff Winner bought the team. The memory of his stint is of trying a quiet divorce at Key West, where the relinquishing of any Panthers rights by his ex-wife became such a thing, with the team issuing a statement on it all.
Viner divorced the Panthers after three years.
Does this help anyone? Does this begin to explain why Friday matters? Does this explain the long and tortuous treadmill on which the Panthers had been skating for more than a quarter century?
At 10:43 on Friday night, Carter Verheghe was in cavalry again, scoring in overtime as the Panthers beat Washington in a 4-3 thriller. This means the Panthers won the playoff series. This is not a typo. He actually won a series. A ghost poof gone.
“I’m not going to lie, it sounds amazing,” said Alexander Barkov, who is in his ninth Panthers season.
Dolphins fans mourn not winning a playoff game since 2000. The Marlins have not won since 2003. It’s kid content compared to the Panthers and they have 26 years between progressing to the playoffs.
Here’s a story: Pavel Bure led the league in 1999–2000 with 58 goals, and was benched in a playoff series where the Panthers were swept away by New Jersey. bench.
“Don’t ask me why,” he said then.
Here’s another story: Jaromir Jagger, who was knocked out of the Eastern Conference Finals in 1996 by pesky Panthers like Tom Fitzgerald and Bill Lindsay, joined the Panthers two decades later. I once asked him about that series. He asked me something back.
“Is it true that he hasn’t won anything since then?” They said
We can go on with these stories. and on. Mike Keenan, as general manager, fired his coach Duane Sutter by just 26 games in the 2001 season, put himself behind the bench and, later, agreed a new contract with a player the franchise needed. : Roberto Luongo. Keenan traded Luongo before signing the contract.
Luongo was traded back to the Panthers seven years later, part of a building roster that made the playoffs in 2016. Then all the internal wiring was dismantled in a way that only the Panthers could do.
The veteran coach, Gerard Gallant, was fired after a road game in Carolina and left on his own, so he had to wait for a taxi to leave the arena. A coach who had no NHL experience, Tom Rowe was put in charge of running the front office and coaching the team.
Expected. Panthers happened. Disaster struck again. And, again, he allowed people to stop paying attention.
Confession: Just writing this makes my blood boil a little, remembering the stories I filed long ago. The Panthers had great hockey men like Bill Torrey to provide guidance and sustenance – if they so desired – until he died in 2018.
“I’m not sure anyone is listening to me,” he told me once, after one of those lost years. They all get together by now.
All of this explains why you had to be happy seeing Friday’s festivities. And you know who deserves to be happiest? Life inside that franchise. I see the players who have always been there, the team’s support staff who smile in approval as I pass the hall.
Randy Moller has worked there for decades, a good and fun-spirited announcer who laughs that his final year was 1994–95 – a year before he went to the Stanley Cup Finals. His broadcast partner, Steve Goldstein, made his trademark shout, “Let’s go home, baby!” After Verhaeghe’s winning goal on Friday.
He reminded me the other day after he said it one night I mentioned it would be a good signature line for him. Then he took it as such. Now they closed a series winner with it.
Ed Jovanovsky, a rookie in the 1996 magic, is now a team broadcaster, giving a history lesson on Friday as he showed off highlights from that long first season. It’s hard to convince people that hockey took over South Florida in 1996—or the passion in 1997 when general manager Brian Murray traded center Stu Barnes.
South Florida was outraged. He traded Barnes? Why was he disbanding that team? People cared then. Perhaps Friday night was a step back in that direction.
“There has been a lot of talk about not winning, being knocked out in the first round,” Barkov said. “It’s been there… it’s not there anymore.”
For the first time in 26 vacant years, there was something tangible to hold. Jonathan Huberdeau, a standout for the Panthers for 10 years, was able to casually say what any Panthers player has said at this time of year, what has been a quarter-century waiting.
“Now we have to think about the second round,” he said.