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20 YEARS OF HOCKEY IN SOUTH FLORIDA: Mellanby Proud of Contribution to Panthers ... Sunday is Anniversary of Inaugural Game

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ST. LOUIS -- Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of the Panthers' first game, one that ended with a 4-4 tie at Chicago Stadium against the Blackhawks.

Scott Mellanby, who scored the first goal in franchise history on Oct. 6, 1993, watched Saturday's game from the press box as did former Panthers coach Duane Sutter.

Others with ties to that first game who were in St. Louis include television analyst Billy Lindsay and assistant coach Craig Ramsay.

The Panthers will honor some of their top players with commemorative bobble heads.

Mellanby, Florida's captain from 1997-2001, will be among them. Mellanby killed the rat in the Miami Arena locker room that started the rubber rat craze in Florida's run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996.

"It's nice to be honored but it sure makes you feel old. I can't believe it has been 20 years,'' Mellanby, now the director of player personnel with the Montreal Canadiens, said last month. "This was a big part of my career, a big part of my life. I got married just before I came here, I had children born here.

"I would like to see the team be back in the playoffs on a regular basis. We were proud of what we did here. I'll always have a soft spot for the Panthers. I think I was a big part of the franchise at one time.''

As far as the Rat Trick goes:

"It's funny. I still have people come up to me and ask about it,'' Mellanby said. "As soon as someone goes 'are you the guy who...' I know what they're going to ask. I had a charity event at my house in St. Louis and I have the display from the Miami Arena wall in my house. People who came for the dinner saw it my basement and heard the story and got a kick out of it.

"It's still a source of great stories and is interesting to people. It's neat to see people still embracing the rats. It's a part of our past that people still enjoy. It's fun.''