Aug 17, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
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.
Sep 24, 2014, 12:30 AM EDT
They weren’t expected to be favorites with him at full-strength.
Sep 23, 2014, 11:28 PM EDT
Brutal luck in a preseason game.
Sep 23, 2014, 11:21 PM EDT
Tuesday presented him with a “what did I get myself into?” moment.
Sep 23, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT
Tough preseason contest for Philly’s No.1 goalie.
Sep 23, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Latest update: He’s on crutches and it might not be knee-related.
Sep 23, 2014, 9:56 PM EDT
This post will include updates if they’re made available.
Sep 23, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT
Buffalo holds him out for the rest of the game.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT
He’s straightforward about it, at least.
Sep 23, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
Vladimir Sobotka might say that’s actually a big gap, though.
Sep 23, 2014, 6:36 PM EDT
The jump to Xbox One and Playstation 4 has been bumpy.
Sep 23, 2014, 5:29 PM EDT
“It’s nothing new to me.”
Sep 23, 2014, 4:51 PM EDT
That was quick.
Sep 23, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT
Sep 23, 2014, 3:58 PM EDT
So, you know, hurry up and sign, kid.
Sep 23, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT
And Erik Karlsson’s the favorite to win the Norris.
Sep 23, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT
Which will reportedly begin in September of 2016.
Sep 23, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
First part of the two-part series starts in December.
Sep 23, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Sep 23, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Who will Ted Nolan choose?
Sep 23, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT
Courtesy a Beau Bennett high stick.
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