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Happy Florida Panthers Day! Cats in Columbus



Florida panthers
Florida Panthers founder Wayne Huizenga is honored at the team’s arena in Sunrise. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

COLUMBUS — Happy Florida Panthers Day to all of you who celebrate.

Yes, Dec. 10 is the birthdate of the Panthers as on that day in 1992, H. Wayne Huizenga was granted an expansion team in a surprise announcement at the league meetings in Palm Beach.

The Disney Corp. was also awarded a team for Anaheim — pricetag for both? $50 million — and both started play in 1993.

The team would not be named the Florida Panthers until a few months later.

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Huizenga, who owned the expansion Marlins and a piece of the Dolphins at the time, had to buy the naming rights from a Tampa-area businessman who secured them hoping Huizenga would name his expansion baseball team after the endangered cat.

And, yes, the Panthers were almost the Block Busters.

Talk about a timeless classic.

The Panthers played their first regular season game on Oct. 6, 1993 at Chicago Arena, forcing a 4-4 tie against Ed Belfour and the Blackhawks.

The first NHL game played at Miami Arena for the Panthers came on Oct. 12, 1993 when the Pittsburgh Penguins beat Florida 2-1.

The Panthers are celebrating their 30th anniversary this season.


Florida mascot Stanley C. Panther is one of the many mascots in Columbus for today’s game as the Blue Jackets’ Stinger celebrates a birthday as well.

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To celebrate, the Panthers are making a number of changes to their lineup.

Coach Paul Maurice said Sunday morning that Anthony Stolarz would start in place of former CBJ netminder Sergei Bobrovsky; Steven Lorentz is replacing Jonah Gadjovich on the fourth line, and Uvis Balinskis returns to the blueline as Dmitry Kulikov comes out.

Balinskis has been scratched in nine of the past 10 and has not played in an NHL game since Nov. 24.

“We have eight NHL defensemen available to play here,” Maurice said. “Someone has to sit out. We need the guy who is in the 7 hole to be able to sit out and then come in and be good. Is it easy? No. But that’s the job and if you want the job, you have to be good at it.’’

So, the starting goalies: Lorentz vs. Jet Greaves.



  • When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
  • Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL/Panthers App
  • Local Odds — Panthers Favored: Money Line (-250); Puck line (-1.5, -110); Over/Under 6.5 (-135/+110)
  • Last Season: Florida won 2-1
  • This Season (Florida leads 1-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Jackets 4 OT (Nov.6); Ap. 11. At Columbus: Sunday
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Columbus leads 26-18-4
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Tuesday at Seattle, 10 p.m.


17 Evan Rodrigues // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

27 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell // 21 Nick Cousins

18 Steven Lorentz // 82 Kevin Stenlund // 94 Ryan Lomberg

42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad

77 Niko Mikkola // 62 Brandon Montour

91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 26 Uvis Balinskis

41 Anthony Stolarz

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Josh Mahura, Dmitry Kulikov, Jonah Gadjovich

Injured: None


12 Johnny Gaudreau // 4 Cole Sillinger // 29 Patrik Laine

59 Yegor Chinakhov // 10 Dmitri Voronkov // 86 Kirill Marchenko

91 Kent Johnson // 11 Adam Fantilli // 52  Emil Bemstrom

42 Alexandre Texier // 7 Sean Kuraly // 17 Justin Danforth

8 Zach Werenski // 77 Nick Blankenburg

9 Ivan Provorov // 55 David Jiricek

22 Jake Bean // 44 Erik Gudbranson

73 Jet Greaves

30 Spencer Martin

Scratched: Mathieu Olivier, Andrew Peeke

Injured: Adam Boqvist (shoulder). Damon Severson (oblique), Jack Roslovic (ankle), Daniil Tarasov (knee), Elvis Merzlikins (illness), Boone Jenner (fractured jaw)

Blue Jackets Lines Courtesy

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