Businessman H. Wayne Huizenga was awarded an NHL expansion franchise. A few months later, in April 1993, he announced that the team would be called the Florida Panthers.
The Florida Panthers played their first game, a 4-4 tie against the Chicago Blackhawks on the road. Scott Mellanby scored the franchise’s first-ever goal. The team’s first win (and first shutout) came three days later on October 9 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-0, on the road.
The Florida Panthers ended the regular season with a record of 33-34-17, finishing 5th in the Atlantic Division. Their 83 points was an NHL record for points by an expansion team at the time.
The Florida Panthers won the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, 4-1, against the Boston Bruins. They won Game 5 — and their first playoff series — in a dramatic come-from-behind fashion when Bill Lindsay scored the winning goal in the 4-3 victory, an iconic moment for the young franchise.
The Florida Panthers dispatched the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers before defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Eastern Conference Championship. Then the Panthers faced the Colorado Avalanche in the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final series. They ultimately lost 4-0.
The Florida Panthers were unbeaten in their first 12 games to start the 1996–1997 season, going 8-0-4. They were unbeaten for the entire month of October, in fact. They ended up only dropping three games before Dec. 3, with a record of 16-3-6 from Oct. 5 to Dec. 1, inclusive.
John Vanbiesbrouck earned his 300th win as a goaltender, joining an elite club, during a 6-2 defeat of the New York Islanders. At the time he was only the 15th player to achieve this milestone and only the second American. It was also his 100th win as a Panther.
The Florida Panthers played their first game in the National Car Rental Center, an exhibition game against the Boston Bruins. The Center was the team’s first true home, after having shared the now-demolished Miami Arena with other teams. The name has changed several times and is now BB&T Center.
Pavel Bure scored his second consecutive hat trick during a 4-3 defeat of the Phoenix Coyotes at home. He had scored a hat trick (four goals, in fact) in the previous game, a 7-3 defeat of the Atlanta Thrashers on the road on February 10. He was the first player in franchise history to pull off this feat.
Pavel Bure led the league in goals with 59, earning the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for the second consecutive year (he had scored 58 goals the previous season). He was the first NHL player to win the trophy in consecutive seasons.
Pavel Bure scored his 400th NHL career goal in a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on the road. He would go on to score a total of 437 goals (152 of which were for the Panthers) before retiring.
Olli Jokinen posted a new franchise record with 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists) in a single game against the New York Islanders. The Panthers won at home, 8-5.
Craig Anderson set an NHL record for most saves recorded during a shutout (53) against the New York Islanders. The Panthers won, 1-0.
Exactly one year after having his carotid artery badly injured during a game against the Buffalo Sabres, Richard Zednik scored the tying and winning goals as the Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime. The Sun Sentinel called it the “biggest comeback win in franchise history.”
The Florida Panthers retired Bill Torrey’s #93, the first ever retired Panthers number.
Stephen Weiss played his 614th game with the Panthers, becoming the franchise’s all-time leader for games played (he eventually logged 654 games).
The Florida Panthers ended the regular season with a 4-1 defeat of the Carolina Hurricanes at home, giving them a record of 38-26-18, which put them 1st in the Southeast Division. It was the first division title in franchise history.
The Florida Panthers advanced to the Conference Quarterfinal for the first time in 12 years. In Game 2, the Panthers won their first playoff game in 15 years against the New Jersey Devils. The Panthers eventually lost the series 4-3 in second overtime during Game 7.
Jonathan Huberdeau was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy for NHL Rookie of the Year. Huberdeau was the first Panther to receive the award (Aaron Ekblad would later receive it in 2015).
New York businessman Vincent “Vinnie” Viola announced his purchase of the Florida Panthers, saying: “I had this intuition about the Panthers and I was starting to watch the team at the end of last year and I had this intuition about hockey. … I would never think I’d be in this privileged position six weeks ago or seven weeks ago.”
The Panthers enjoyed their longest winning streak in franchise history! From December 15 to January 10, they won 12 straight games.
Jaromir Jagr recorded his 742nd career goal, passing Brett Hull to take the no. 3 position on the NHL’s all-time goals list during a 3-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets.
Jaromir Jagr scored one point (an assist) in a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins at home, making him the second-highest points-scorer in NHL history with 1888 points. (He would finish his career with 1921 points.) He remains second only to Wayne Gretzky.
Roberto Luongo passed Curtis Joseph to become the fourth-winningest goaltender in NHL history. The 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on the road gave Luongo his 455th win.
The Florida Panthers retired #37 in honor of H. Wayne Huizenga, the team’s founder and first owner. Huizenga was born in 1937 and 37 was his favorite number. Mr. Huizenga passed away not long after on March 22, 2018.
Roberto Luongo became the third goaltender in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game mark, joining Hall of Fame goalies Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy. The Panthers won over the Boston Bruins at home, 3-2.
Mike Hoffman broke Pavel Bure’s record 13-game franchise point streak by tallying an assist in a 14th straight game, a 7-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road. Hoffman kept the streak alive for 17 consecutive games to November 21. He led the team with 36 goals that season, which were also the most ever scored by a first-year Panther. It was also the fifth-most (tied) scored by a Panther in a single season in franchise history.
Roberto Luongo took the ice in his 1,030th career game, passing Hall of Famer Patrick Roy for second-most games played as a goalie in NHL history. Luongo trails only Martin Brodeur. The Panthers fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning at home, 5-2.
With a 4-3 overtime victory against the Colorado Avalanche on the road, Roberto Luongo recorded his 485th win as a goalie. He passed Hall of Famer and former Panther Ed Belfour to become no. 3 for wins by a goalie in NHL history.
In the final game of the season, Aleksander Barkov tallied two points break Pavel Bure’s single-season franchise points record. Barkov’s career-best 96 points placed him at 10th in NHL scoring and led all Finnish NHL players. The Tampere, Finland native was only the fourth Finnish-born NHL player to post 90 points in a season, along with Hall of Famers Jari Kurri and Teemu Selanne and former Panthers captain Olli Jokinen.
The Panthers hired the second-winningest coach in NHL history and three-time Stanley Cup champion Joel Quenneville as the team’s new head coach.
Roberto Luongo announced his retirement to fans in a letter on the Florida Panther’s website. After 19 seasons in the NHL, Luongo ranked third all-time for wins (489), and second in most games played by a goalie (1,044). Unsurprisingly, at the time of his retirement, “Bobby Lu” held several major records for the franchise, including most wins (230), most shutouts (38) and most games played by a goalie (572). The fan favorite announced that he planned to be “just another retiree in South Florida.”
The Panthers made a big splash in the free agent market in Summer 2019, signing two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, defenseman Anton Stralman and forwards Brett Connolly and Noel Acciari.