« Off to Jersey, Wiseguy: Scott Clemmensen IN vs. New Jersey Brodeurs | Main | More Good News »

One Last Trip Down Memory Lane: Panthers Say Goodbye to the Igloo

Mellon

NEWARK --Taking the long way to Pittsburgh today, and that's probably no shock to many of you who check in here from time to time.

Hopefully I make it to Blitzburgh in time for kickoff.

Or at least the 9 p.m. showing of 'The U' on ESPN. Figure I'll watch that in Randy Sexton's box atop Mellon Arena. He has a TV in there, you know.

With ESPN taking a look back at the glory years of The U tonight, the Panthers will get one more game on the site of this franchise's biggest achievement. It was here, on Pittsburgh ice, where the Panthers stunned the hockey world and upset the Penguins 3-1 in Game 7 of the 1996 Eastern Conference finals.

The Panthers, a third-year hockey team with many players no one had ever heard of, was going to the Stanley Cup Finals.

I know some of you get tired of us bringing up the 1996 team all the time, but I don't apologize. For those who were living in South Florida at that time, it was a magical run with a team it was hard not to fall in love with. Yes, the Panthers were very popular in South Florida at one time, with that '96 team getting Wayne Huizenga his arena out in the Everglades. Without that, this team would have been in Kansas City or Nashville a long time ago.

Hard to believe how the Panthers have absolutely lost their cache in our market in such a short time. And it wasn't just the Miami Arena '96 team that was popular, either. It was actually hard to get a ticket to games in Sunrise back in the day. Of course, they didn't give them away at Quarterdeck or offer them online for less than a buck, either.

Anyway, spoke to Bill Lindsay, Radek Dvorak and one Doug MacLean yesterday for a story I wrote on Florida's final game in The Igloo.

My favorite part of the story got chopped out because of space concerns. I can just picture this scene, can't you?

Both MacLean and Bill Lindsay recall the late-night bus ride to the Pittsburgh airport with great fondness. The Panthers weren’t ready to end their celebration when they left the arena, so the team bus pulled up to a local bar and picked up some supplies for the road.

“That was the best moment of my hockey life,’’ said Lindsay, a winger on that team and now Florida’s television analyst.

“That bus ride was one you’ll never forget. We had the beverages and the cigars going, all the windows on the bus wide open. It was the best bus ride and plane ride I ever had.’’

Added MacLean: “It was amazing. The team bus just pulled up to a bar and got takeout service. It really was something out of Slapshot. That was the ultimate team building experience and one of the great group of guys of all time. I think about that team all the time.’’

This is the Panthers second and final game in Pitt this year, with the Penguins moving across the street to new digs next season.

So unless the Panthers make it to the playoffs and face the Pens, this is it for the Igloo.

I'm going to miss the press box.

No I'm not.

See you in Pittsburgh. Maybe.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

GR- great memories...now back to reality- any truth to the rumor that Vokoun is available?

If so, who would Randy try to get in return, or is this just salary dumping? I dare not say the word "pl*y*fs", but trading TVo for draft picks is totally giving up this season. Maybe we can acquire van Reimsdyk from Philly since Emery is out for 6 weeks?

Amazingly, this team is only 2 points behind 8th. But don't say that word!

GR, it is simple how this team fell out of favor,

When Cohen bought the team and brought in Yormark, their goal was to make money not produce a winning team.

They have turned a great arena into a joke.

The customer service is non existent; they have very little marketing of the game, they market the arena on all of their press releases.

It is all about making money on the arena where Wayne was able to get a sweatheart deal, (without that deal we would be Phoenix).

Hockey was being used to get 41 dates into the arena.

The fans are treated with disrespect. Yormark is a bottom line guy and in running a business is excellent at what he does. Yormark made the decision to make the arena the center of the business and since that day the hockey side and the fans are an afterthought.

Yes we look fondly at not just the 96 team but all the teams of the 1990s.

The team was a hard working bunch and they appreciated the fans. Going to the Sports Ticket in Deerfield after the games to talk about the game with the players and coaches, or after the team moved to Sunrise going to Sawgrass for the same talks.

The fans mattered to the organization and were listened to. Now if you mention anything negative you are told that you don't know how to run a business.

Going to the arena when there is a hockey game, you rarely see out of town scores, you rarely see anything about hockey instead it is the Bank Atlantic Goal, or this face off is brought to you buy, this power play is brought to you by, this penalty kill is brought to you by...

When you go to the arena for non hockey games you never see the panthers promoted you only see other upcoming concerts advertised.

Anything that has happened to the panthers pre Yormark has disappeared from site including getting rid of the den of honor.

Former players are never recogonized for their accomplishments (no jersey's retired).

Yormark would rather have a nose running around the arena and be the center point then hockey.

Get a hockey person to run the hockey side and make sure we have the right GM, Scouts and coaches.

Make panther hockey matter again

GEORGE RICHARDS HIMSELF SHOULD REPLACE YORMARK!!

Yormark has been a big problem but remember he takes orders from Cohen who is only interested in making money.He has brought us to a new level of hucksterism with his phony promotions.I remember last year they had CHALK TALK with the fans and they wheeled out Potvin who was supposed to explain their type of play/strategies-they fed us reconditioned potato chip dip and it was a renewal pitch.I will never go to another fan event again after that insult.This is the type of stuff Yormark does.My rep left and my current rep is leaving too!I have never heard a positive word on Yormark from anyone.What they dont realize that if they put the money in the fans will return.Their scouting and deal making needs a total overhall.I personally like DEBOER and I think it is way to early to judge Sexton after 6 mos.The Yormark signing of Koistenen for 2 yrs was a back room deal to obtain 1/2 of the gate on our Finland trip.They should have taken that money and re-signed Anderson,Peltonen,or Scraskins who wanted to return this year.

Yormark=Whoremark

not much respect from the pens by playing their backup goalie and not dressing their tough guy godard. good effort by in the long run these 1 point games are going catch up with you.

Where the heck is our enforcer!? I think Matthias, Kulikov and Frolik got smacked around a little too much.

GR, any update on Tarnasky and McArdle?

McArdle is in Rochester rehabbing a chronically bad shoulder and Tarnasky is also in Rochester for a two week conditioning stint.

Remember the Panthers only bring up enforcers for games that they don't need them in. Typical "Panther moment" at the igloo. A penalty in overtime, only the Panthers manage to get penalties in overtime.

5 AHLers up??? I think we could have justified having "Smashintyre".

excuses please no more excuses be accountable for your actions starting from ownership and management on down.

McIntyre is no enforcer. He's an ahl bump. Enforcers now a days need to at least skate.

The comments to this entry are closed.