Eight years ago today, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman flew to South Florida from Los Angeles to introduce Vinnie Viola as the new owner of the Florida Panthers.
Viola said then that the Panthers were going to be a family business and he was not kidding.
The Viola family — from wife Teresa to sons John, Michael and Travis — are often spotted at the Sunrise arena and Teresa Viola is a big fan of the team.
“The rumor and speculation about the franchise has been overdone,’’ Bettman said then. “The fact is, Vinnie comes in with an energy and an excitement and a commitment of resources. He wants to take this club to another level.
“This is great news for the fans of the Florida Panthers. People should not be worried about the future of the Panthers being anywhere but here in South Florida. People should be focused on the commitment to winning.’’
Everyone was skeptical at the time and, well, why not? The Panthers were not a very stable franchise and rumors of their potential move north popped up all the time. Even after Viola bought them.
But you don’t hear that stuff very much anymore. The Viola family has certainly stabilized things in Sunrise and the players seem to love playing for an owner who is not shy about spending whatever is needed to help them along.
The Panthers are not the cheap franchise they once were.
“We’re all about hockey and are very singularly focused people,” Viola said. “That’s what we’re about, the Florida Panthers. We will do everything we can and we will win here. We’re excited about that.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS LINKS
When Chase Priskie was a young hockey player growing up in Pembroke Pines, he says his parents could not afford the high cost of what it took to be on a travel team. If not for financial help from the likes of the Florida Panthers Foundation, he said, he probably would not have gone as far as he did.
Priskie, now a defenseman with the Panthers, wants to do his part to help kids in a similar situation. (FloridaHockeyNow)
— Frank Vatrano gets a hat trick as the Panthers take Game 1 of their preseason doubleheader against the Preds. (FHN)
— Spencer Knight looks pretty good as the Panthers take Game 2 as well. (FHN)
— Did someone say ‘sweep?’ (Miami Herald)
— Jameson’s five takeaways from the preseason sweep. (Panthers)
AROUND THE NHL
Well, I guess the Seattle Kraken are officially a thing. The expansion team played its first exhibition game on Sunday night in Spokane and it was on TV so, yeah, here come the Kraken! (VancouverHockeyNow)
— Training camp winners and losers – so far – in Pittsburgh. (PittsburghHockeyNow)
— The Boston Bruins beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in their preseason opener at the Capital One Arena. (BostonHockeyNow)
— Mike Hoffman could miss a month with a lower body injury. (TSN)
— Can Michael Dal Colle finally live up to his potential with the Islanders? (NYIHockeyNow)
— Oskar Lindblom continues comeback with the Flyers. (PhillyHockeyNow)
— Look out for Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny this season. (WashingtonHockeyNow)
— The latest injury update on Detroit Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana. (DetroitHockeyNow)
— The St. Louis Blues gave GM Doug Armstrong a five-year extension. (TSN)