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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Back to the Future: Fanatics Merch Has Bruins Beating Panthers

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Panthers bruins
Leaked New York Rangers Stanley Cup championship merchandise was apparently discovered on a Fanatics site and put on Twitter. // Screencap from Twitter @WillChiarucci

The Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins will open the Eastern Conference semifinals tonight in Sunrise, but if you believe the NHL playoffs are scripted like pro wrestling, there is no need to pay any attention.

Those who enjoy engaging in conspiracy theories had a field day when merchandise was leaked online which portrayed the New York Rangers winning the upcoming Stanley Cup by beating the Colorado Avalanche.

To put the tin foil hats away early: The Rangers were probably picked for the mocked up merchandise due to winning the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy. Colorado, as the 2022 Cup champs, were likely selected in similar thinking.

“They just pick a couple of teams and go with it. We see this in every single sport, every single company,’’ said Brett Gittelman, owner of CanesWear in Davie which is stocked with Panthers merchandise and has orders in for future Florida playoff gear including the Stanley Cup Final.

“Two years ago, when the Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy, all of the mock ups had Florida logos on it. They have to send those emails out to get the orders in if your local team does win.”

One piece of merchandise would be of interest to fans of the Panthers and Bruins: A banner mocked up to ‘commemorate’ the Rangers’ run to the Cup.

It has New York beating the Bruins in 7 games in the Eastern Conference Final.

That means the Panthers will have been knocked out in this second round by Boston.

Of course, that same banner has the Rangers beating the Capitals in 5; they swept Washington in Round 1.

It also has New York beating the Dallas Stars in the Cup Final — but mocked up Avs merchandise.

No one is perfect, not even in the Land of Fake Merchandise.

Panthers bruins

Leaked New York Rangers Stanley Cup championship merchandise shows a 4-3 series win over the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final. // Screencap from Twitter @WillChiarucci

The leaked merch was captured on Twitter by @WillChiarucci and is likely a legit screen video grab of a Fanatics website offered by WinCraft.

Fanatics is the official merchandise supplier of the NHL, among just about everyone else, and owns WinCraft.

It features all the different type of merchandise one would be able to order — either for the ‘Western Conference champion’ Avalanche or, of course, the 2024 Stanley Cup champion Rangers.

There is plenty of stuff a retailer would be able to order, including decals, mugs, lanyards, license plates, pennants, car flags, golf balls, and more.

Those who always think ‘the fix is in,’ when it comes to professional sports will point to this leak as proof of such.

The truth is, it takes a long time to create championship merchandise — and retailers get mocked up versions of what they could order depending on the outcome all the time.

“They have to do all of this way in advance,” Gittleman said. “They are not going to mock up every single team in the playoffs. That is counterproductive, takes a lot of time. They are paying these designers, so it also costs money. You pick two teams as an example and go with it. There is nothing to read into this. It’s commonplace for apparel companies.”

And, none of the merchandise mocked up has been produced — nor will be available for purchase.

Unless the Rangers beat the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final, of course.

At least we know what will be offered by Fanatics come Cup Final time.

If the Rangers do win the Cup for the first time since 1994, they will sell a ton of it.

“The Rangers were the best team in the NHL this season, so give them their props,” Gittleman said. “But they should have used Vancouver in the West. That stuff would really sell.’’

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1) V. BOSTON BRUINS (A2)
BEST-OF-7 SERIES
GAME 1

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