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It’s Florida Panthers day on PHT

Aug 17, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Ryan Whitney, Aleksander Barkov, Tom Gilbert, Jonathan Huberdeau AP

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Florida Panthers.

The Florida Panthers winning the Southeast Division seemed pretty fluky when they did it in 2011-12 – and not just because of those 18 “charity points” – but that run only seems like more of a mirage today.

The Panthers have only made the playoffs four times since entering the league in 1993-94 and haven’t won a playoff series in any year except that magical run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that some of the greater themes heading into 2014-15 bring about something of a “broken record” feeling.

Get this: the best reasons to feel excited about this team lie in their collection of young players. To add an extra pinch of nostalgia, Roberto Luongo‘s there to absorb a lot of pucks.

(At least Luongo as Panthers goalie 2.0 sends out some hilarious Tweets, though …)

On the bright side, some of those young talents really are intriguing. Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov could convert more of their promise into production next season. The Panthers grabbed another high-end prospect by zeroing in on Aaron Ekblad with the No. 1 overall pick and could develop another useful player or two if things break their way.

This year’s team also carries some parallels with the last one that made the playoffs in that they added a new head coach and a ragtag group of free agents. One may quibble with the deals Dave Bolland and/or Willie Mitchell received, yet there’s no denying that GM Dale Tallon added some championship experience to the mix. Then again, grabbing an underrated player in Jussi Jokinen could end up being the best move Tallon made this summer.

That said, it’s difficult not to wonder how much longer Tallon can continue to flounder, even in a lower pressure atmosphere like this. Pessimists may argue that this team really isn’t in that much better of a place than where they were when he was hired in 2010.

This is about that time when franchises get itchy to see some real improvement, and even if Florida has suffered from a lack of front office stability in the past, there’s also the risk of complacency.

Ultimately, new head coach Gerard Gallant and an interesting mix of veterans and youngsters will determine if this season will be a memorable one or just another snoozer in Sunrise. If nothing else, it’s tough to imagine things getting worse than they were last season.

  1. phtjoey - Aug 17, 2014 at 8:15 AM

    these moves will certainly have a more positive impact than the signing of tim thomas did last year. that was a joke. tallon may have redeemed himself. looking forward to seeing what gallant will do with the boys.

  2. alicesrightfootesq - Aug 17, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    BOLD prediction: In two years we will be talking about them as the LA Kings of the east.

  3. greatmiamisportsmind - Aug 17, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    Sadly I’m guessing within 2 hours and for the rest of the day- we are going to hear a bunch from the “move the Panthers trolls”

    I am however, more excited for this coming season than last year. Are we a playoff team, probably not. But we should be more competitive than last season.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 17, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      They should be better. One factor not meantioned is maturation of Hayes and Pirri, who both got to play regularly following a mid-year trade, and now will go thru training camp and pre-season with the team. I sospect they will make a stronger contribution. They may get Kevin Hayes now that he passed on signing with the Hawks.

      But they’re not going to make the playoffs, even playing in the leagues weakest division/conference. They’d have to improve by 26 points to even have a shot at the last seed.

      In response to you “moving” comment, I’d say it’s time for Florida, Phoenix and the Islanders to draw enough fans to actually support their teams and not depend on revenue sharing and national broadcast revenue to prop them up.

      • greatmiamisportsmind - Aug 17, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        I’ll continue to say this until I’m blue in the face. There isn’t going to be a lot of support when your team has made the playoffs once since 1999-2000 (or when the Atlanta Thrashers were an expansion team or a year before Columbus and Minnesota joined the league). It doesn’t matter what market and what sport your in, when you’re that bad for that long, it’s a tough sell. Winning cures everything.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 17, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      Relevent comment from the owner about the team’s future in Florida.

  4. capsrockva - Aug 17, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Good luck with that. BOS/MON/TB/TOR in your division. Seriously, you really expect FL to make the playoffs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • greatmiamisportsmind - Aug 18, 2014 at 12:53 AM

      Good luck with Toronto in our division? Call me crazy, but hasn’t the Florida Panthers made the playoffs as often as Toronto has since the lockout?

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