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2024 Stanley Cup Champions

Panthers Bring Stanley Cup to the People with Hometown Parade



Florida panthers
The Florida Panthers won the Stanley Cup with a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 last Monday night in Sunrise. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Florida Panthers will be front-and-center in one of the biggest parties this town has seen today at their Stanley Cup victory parade down A1A off Fort Lauderdale Beach.

The City of Fort Lauderdale is expecting one of the biggest gatherings on the beach since it was called ‘The Strip’ back in the glory days of spring break in the 1980s.

Just don’t expect any players to do belly flops into a pool.

Ok, if they find one, they just might.

And the Panthers will be right at home in doing so.

Home in Broward County, where the team has been located since moving north from Miami Arena in 1998.

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When Bill Zito first took the general manager job with the Panthers in 2020, most of his experience with the area came on his drive from a hotel in Coconut Creek to the IceDen in Coral Springs.

With a lot of work to do in a short amount of time before the next season started, Zito did not do a lot of sightseeing.

But now, a few years in, Zito has settled in.

His family moved down from Columbus, got a house in the suburbs. The kids like their school. They have Dolphins season tickets. They go fishing in the Atlantic.

The Zito family could be considered, as many who moved here and were taken by the place, locals now.

Bill Zito may not have a Salt Life or Flo Grown decal on his truck, but give it time.

They probably do have a couple Flanigan’s cups at their house, however.

Zito, like the Panthers, is proud to call Broward home and happy to have their championship parade here.

“I think Broward County is such a special place,’’ Zito said.

“I have only been here four years, but I know it is a place you can live in, and very quickly call it home, and very quickly develop a pride. Yeah, we’re from here and it’s awesome.”

After the Panthers won the Stanley Cup last week, the Broward commission should consider giving the Zito family a key to the county and ask that they do not leave.

Although Zito has been consumed with the draft and Monday’s start to NHL free agency, he has had a moment or three with the Cup.

On Wednesday, he and Roberto Luongo took it to Heritage in Fort Lauderdale for dinner; they also took the Cup out for a coaches’ dinner waterside by the Intracoastal.

The Stanley Cup was the star of the show.

Consider this the Panthers boat parade.

“The boats went by and then, all of a sudden, they circled. They knew,’’ Zito recalled. “They were on the radio, circling back. In the moment, it was really neat, very special.”

The Panthers have been taking the Cup all over town and have enjoyed the attention their championship — and the trophy which signifies it — has brought.

So, too, has their general manager.

“It’s really fun and neat to see the Cup in these new environments, to see the power that it has,’’ Zito said. “It’s South Florida, Broward County … people are losing their marbles because this is the first time they have seen it.

“It is so beautiful, and majestic, and it has that energy. It’s just a hunk of silver, but somehow, it isn’t. That’s really been fun, that’s been neat.”

Just wait until the parade. The Panthers have never seen anything like this.

More FHN Coverage of the Stanley Cup Champion Panthers:

  • Stanley Cup Championship Parade, Fort Lauderdale: Today, 11 a.m.
  • NHL Free Agency: Monday
  • Florida Panthers Development Camp, Fort Lauderdale: Early July
  • Florida Panthers Training Camp, Fort Lauderdale: Mid-September
  • Florida Panthers Preseason: Sept. 22-Oct. 5
  • Florida Panthers Opening Night/Banner Unveiling: TBA


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