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A New Contest

Seinfeldcontest Sitting here just a short Brian Skrudland slap shot away from the Avs' 1996 Stanley Cup championship banner put me in a reflective mood.

I had a blast at Game 4 of the Finals, the one in which the Quebec NordAvs won the Cup at Miami Arena. Ended up sneaking into the upper deck's press seating and watched it from there with the likes of Joe Rose and Tony Segreto et al. Will never forget it. What a game.

Anywho, where were you during the Stanley Cup Finals that year? Is this the series that made you a Panther fan in the first place? Best story gets an authentic black rubber rat thrown during Game 3 of the Finals (I worked that game for Fox Sports and one of my assignments was to count the rats. I stole a few.)

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During the Cup run, the Panthers were becoming more familiar to me. It was on the night of my Bar Mitzvah, May 18th, 1996 that they won the first game of the Panthers/Penguins series 5-1, the Eastern Conference Finals. By the time I heard about this and the rats I was hooked. During the finals, and especially the last game, I remember being in Coral Springs where we lived, at a sports bar and grille called G.W. Sharkey's, just off of University Drive. The place was electric, people had plastic rats, jerseys, hats, light up stuff, you name it, it was there. Even though it went long into triple overtime, we stayed throughout. The entertainment of that game was nonstop. It was the series that made me a Panther fan to this very day.

The Panthers were in the Stanley Cup Finals? Sure..Next you're gonna tell me the Indians were in the World Series!

I went to the game where Bill Lindsay scored "The Goal" against Ray Bourque and the Bruins. I was a Panthers fan since 1993, though I was only 4 years old then. But seeing Bill Lindsay score The Goal is one of the greatest all time memories I have. I was sitting on the Bruins end of the ice that period and had a perfect view of the goal. Greatest game I have ever experienced in my life.

Wow George, where do I begin? The 1996 Cup drive means more to me in terms of memories than most. The woman I was dating at the time had been fighting a battle to survive breast cancer, which had metastasized to her bones. She had been waging the war for over 4 years and both of us loved the Panthers. I had been a fan from the moment they were granted the team (I was at the Uniform Unveiling) and when we met Suzy immediately took to the Cats as well. She really attached herself to the Cats and when they did well she often did too. Suzy had been so brave and even though she was really sick from the chemo she was taking, when I managed to score two tickets for Game 4 of the Finals she knew she just had to be there. Fortunately it so happened that the seats we got were in the handicapped section and so even that played into our hands well as the seats were more like highboy barstools so Suzy never really had to sit down which was incredibly difficult for her due to the bone pain.


Well we all know what an incredible game it was, Suzy, like the rest of the arena emotionally rose and fell with every shot. For over 5 hours she endured one exciting moment until the next. And when it was over we both cried on each other’s shoulders for what a great season it had been.

The summer wore on and Suzy began to lose the fight. One of the last things I got to show her was the Opening Night Ceremonies from October 8, 1996. Four days later she would quietly pass away.

I will always cherish those memories, she was one cool gal and the Panthers had one amazing run.

By the way. I dont want anyone to think this story is a downer in any way shape or form. Life for me has been very good since then. I met and married a wonderful woman who also is a big Panthers fan (like she would have a choice after marrying ME!) I also have 2 beautiful daughters (6 yr old and almost 2 yrs old) who love to watch the games and the practices at Incredible Ice when we can go. So a lot of my life still revolves around the Panthers. And one day soon when we return to the playoffs and God willing raise the Cup. I know Suzy is going to have one huge smile on her angels face!!


CATFAN927

Wow George, where do I begin? The 1996 Cup drive means more to me in terms of memories than most. The woman I was dating at the time had been fighting a battle to survive breast cancer, which had metastasized to her bones. She had been waging the war for over 4 years and both of us loved the Panthers. I had been a fan from the moment they were granted the team (I was at the Uniform Unveiling) and when we met Suzy immediately took to the Cats as well. She really attached herself to the Cats and when they did well she often did too. Suzy had been so brave and even though she was really sick from the chemo she was taking, when I managed to score two tickets for Game 4 of the Finals she knew she just had to be there. Fortunately it so happened that the seats we got were in the handicapped section and so even that played into our hands well as the seats were more like highboy barstools so Suzy never really had to sit down which was incredibly difficult for her due to the bone pain.


Well we all know what an incredible game it was, Suzy, like the rest of the arena emotionally rose and fell with every shot. For over 5 hours she endured one exciting moment until the next. And when it was over we both cried on each other’s shoulders for what a great season it had been.

The summer wore on and Suzy began to lose the fight. One of the last things I got to show her was the Opening Night Ceremonies from October 8, 1996. Four days later she would quietly pass away.

I will always cherish those memories, she was one cool gal and the Panthers had one amazing run.

By the way. I dont want anyone to think this story is a downer in any way shape or form. Life for me has been very good since then. I met and married a wonderful woman who also is a big Panthers fan (like she would have a choice after marrying ME!) I also have 2 beautiful daughters (6 yr old and almost 2 yrs old) who love to watch the games and the practices at Incredible Ice when we can go. So a lot of my life still revolves around the Panthers. And one day soon when we return to the playoffs and God willing raise the Cup. I know Suzy is going to have one huge smile on her angels face!!


CATFAN927

My story isn't that great but here we go.

I was 16 at the time and I had been a fan for almost 3 years. I lived in a small city on the east coast of canada. I was never able to watch any games on tv unless they were against Les Canadiens (on the French channel)or the one game a year they would show against another canadian team on TSN. The 1st round all I got to see was Highlight reels against the Bruins. The 2nd round they aired 1 or 2 games against the Flyers (I think the 6th game was aired). Then the 3rd round came and I was in hockey heaven. ALL 7 Games were aired on CBC. What a great round of hockey!! Then the finals came. I don't have the greatest memory but I recall one night, i think it was game 3, I had a bunch of my friends over to my parents house for the game. I think the score was something like 7-0??? or 7-1??? Of course my friends layed into the Panthers and I pretty good that night. Not a very pleasant evening. To add insult to injury, Patrick Roy was the major reason they won the cup that year(the Canadiens were my favorite team before the Panthers and still hold a prominent place in my hockey heart and Patrick Roy temporarily broke that heart into a million pieces when he demanded that trade).

It is definitely something to be proud of that the Panthers made it to the Stanley Cup finals that year but losing 4 straight was definitely a painful experience to watch. Living in Toronto now(I hate the Maple Laughs), I have always said that I would like to see the Maple Leafs make it to the Stanley Cup Finals and Lose 4 straight, just because it would be fun to see the excitement build in this city and then my friends that are Maple Leaf fans will know what its like to be a Panther Fan.

Anyhow, this season seems to be over and I am going to tell my Digital Cable provider to shove the NHL Centre Ice Package up something. And now I will focus my sport watching efforts on the all mighty Toronto Raptors, it looks like they are going to make the playoffs this year. And soon to my beloved Blue Jays. Hopefully the NY Yankee evil empire will finally fall and we can finally win OUR division again.

Although my story kind of sucks I hope I win your prize. I already won the Dallas food eating contest that was on panthers.com, ALTHOUGH I HAVE NOT RECIEVED MY PRIZE FAIRMONT HOTEL SOAP OR JAY BOUWMEESTER SIGNED PUCK!! I would love to have an authentic Panther Rat! Maybe I should have made up a story that is better than mine. Maybe I should just move to Florida. Anybody know if there is any Video Editor positions available in Miami?

The Self Proclaimed Biggest Panther fan in Canada:

Andrew Noddin

When the Panthers made its historic playoff run I was just 7 years old but I was already a hockey fan. I idolized the Beezer and have since become a goalie modeling my style after him and sporting the 34, but now to the story.
It was the night of game 3 of the finals and I was on my way to my cousins ballet recitle. We had promised my aunt we would go before the playoffs had begun not knowing the consequenses. I begged and pleaded with my dad to let me stay home but he forced me to go. We are sitting at the ballet and I decide to pull the classic Im going to the bathroom trick to save myself from going insane. As I walk out into the lobby of the theatre I see another fan who is in the same boat as me. Luckily he did not take his misfortune lying down and brought with him a 9 inch television with antennaes and had set it up to watch the game. I tell my dad I'm going to watch the game and he actually got up and joined me.
As the game goes on more men start to walk out and join us. We are having a great time yelling with every save and booing every good save by Roy, when the security guard tells us that we have gotten to loud and are dirupting the play inside. The guard sees the game on and instead of telling us to keep it down apologizes, opens up the snack bar for us(free by the way), and he also joins us. The game went on and by the end of the night there were more people huddled around a tiny t.v. watching the game then there were watching the ballet,(we estimated about 500 men). As we watch the Panthers eventually lose 3-2 we all went home dissapointed, but to this day I will never forget the night I watched my beloved Panthers on a tiny television at a stupid ballet.
Alex

btw I still throw a rat after every home win. your allowed to after the game since the game is over and cant be delayed. I also bring a large rat to every game witch got me an interview with Craig Minervini

We had (and still have) season tickets. We could only afford upper bowl seats with no food or drink at the time. Our whole entertainment revolved around the Florida Panthers. We were new in Florida and loved having the opportunity to follow the Panthers. Growing up as a sports fan in Philadelphia, I could tell the Panther's team that year was special. It was so great to take our daughters and watch the practices and easily receive autographs. The team really felt like a "hometown" team. We loved the integrity of the team and their hard work ethic, along with their love of the game. My most vivid memory was watching Bill Lindsay in slow motion (to me) take that puck past Ray Bourque and put the puck in the net. Anyone watching at that time saw Bill Lindsay on many break aways that didn't go in the net. But I knew this one was. I remember the thrill of them winning the Boston series. As fans, we felt we were every bit involved in their games as they were. We knew our support was needed by the team. I think everyone would say that at the time. We could just feel it. I remember Jovanowski's big hit on Lindros. Even better, Lindros' face when the Panthers went through shaking hands after they won the series. Then the next big moment...when Fitzgerald shot that puck over Barasso's shoulder to put the Panther's ahead and win the game. Of course watching the Panther's win the Conference was such a thrill, such a thrill. The one thing on the negative that stands out is when we watched the first game in Colorado. The fans seemed vicious and I could tell everything fell apart. Something about Colorado took away all that was good for the Panthers. Of course I didn't give up on the Panthers and watched in the Miami Arena that final game, as the Panther's gave it everything they had left. We loved that team and knew it was a once in a lifetime sports year for any sport.

I'm with Mike--- The Indians were in the World Series? No way G. Seriously?

I can't win any type of award for this; I'm kinda related to someone who works for the Herald. I know I should've stolen that rubber rat when I had the chance. The Detroit Stanley Cup Championship banner was worth it, though.

I might have had the coolest job in the world that year - I joined the Panthers organization in the summer of 1995, doing volunteer work teaching hockey clinics to kids all over South Florida. Once the season began, I drove the Panthers truck down to the Miami Arena every afternoon of each home game, filled with all of the in-between period stuff for the fans.

Once the media got wind of Mellanby's "rat trick" in the dressing room, we were stationed near the glass, ready for a downpour of rats onto the ice. As the season progressed, it got more and more intense, all of us guys dressed like Orkin men. Once the playoffs began, it was insanity. I'd go out to center ice and just listen to the crowd once a goal was scored...till this day it is the loudest noise I've ever heard, it was incredible...14,000+ people screaming, cheering, and clapping after a goal.

Game 4 of the Cup Final was flat-out insanity, but not because of the rats but due to the length of the game. When Uwe Kruup's shot went in, it was surreal - it felt like the night would never end.

Here comes the coolest part of the story - I got placed and in charge of the cameramen at center ice along the boards when Colorado was awarded the Stanley Cup...I was 10 feet away from the Avalanche and Joe Sakic lifting the Cup. It was the greatest.

I also got to hold the Prince of Wales trophy (Eastern Conference winner's trophy), kiss it and take pictures with it...simple awesome!

RangerJoe

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