CORAL SPRINGS — Even though he has been gone since July, there are still a couple of ‘Lyon King’ placards honoring now-former Florida Panthers goalie Alex Lyon hanging around the team’s arena in Sunrise.
The signs, placed behind some glass in the lower bowl, appear stuck in place.
Lyon laughed when told about them.
“I hope they are there forever,’’ he said.
Alex Lyon is certainly appreciative to the Panthers — and their fans — for what was a most magical time in his career last spring.
And the feeling is reciprocated.
On Tuesday morning, Lyon was back at the IceDen, taking up his old locker stall in the Panthers’ former training facility.
Not far from where he was working hung a new banner on the side of the building commemorating Florida’s 2023 Eastern Conference championship.
If not for Lyon, that banner probably would not be there.
Last season, the Panthers were on fumes, and their playoff hopes were on life support following a 5-2 loss in Ottawa.
Sergei Bobrovsky was fighting the flu in that one — and would not be able to play in the next game. Lyon, who had spent most of his career in the minors, had to start a must-win game for the Panthers — and he excelled.
Lyon backstopped the Panthers through a slow start and was rewarded for his effort when Sam Reinhart deflected an Aaron Ekblad shot with a minute left in regulation to force overtime.
The Panthers won 3-2 on a Brandon Montour — and the Lyon Train was off and running.
Lyon carried the Panthers to six straight wins and a 6-0-1 record to get them into the playoffs as the eighth-seed in the East.
Everyone knows what happened next.
“It was great to have a little runway to be able to build up some confidence over time,” Lyon said. “It was great for me. I enjoyed it a lot and was thankful for the experience. … It was really cool and the Panthers are having another great season. This is going to be a big test.”
Tonight, he will get to see the actual banner, the one that hangs from the rafters of the Sunrise Arena.
Lyon will get the start, his eighth in the past nine games when the Detroit Red Wings visit the Panthers.
He is excited about being back.
“It’s cool and I am appreciative of my time here,” Lyon said. “I am excited to play here again, it is a great building and I am looking forward to it. (Florida) is a really good team with good top-end players and good bottom-6 players who have a real identity. It is going to be a real good game, a measuring stick for us.’’
Lyon started last season as Florida’s No. 3, but he took over for Spencer Knight as Bobrovsky’s backup and played an integral role in the team’s season.
He turned that into a two-year deal with the Red Wings, where he has become the team’s starter over fellow ex-Panther James Reimer as Ville Husso works his way back from injury.
Lyon has indeed parlayed last year’s success into a strong season in Detroit at 9-4-1 with a 2.58/.922.
“His play got them into the playoffs and there was some growth in that for him,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “It obviously builds some confidence and I think it has translated when he got the opportunity here. Really good on him, especially at this point of his career. And he has been really good for us.”
Said Lyon: “Just getting comfortable and having the ability of knowing that, if you don’t play well, you’re not getting sent down. It was awesome here and the confidence was big for me. I want to keep it rolling here.’’
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DETROIT RED WINGS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- Streaming/TV: 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
- Last Season: Florida won 3-0
- This Season (Panthers Lead 1-0) — At Detroit: Panthers 2, Wings 0 (Nov. 2); March 2. At Florida: Wednesday; March 30
- All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 37-19-6, 5 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Friday vs. Minnesota Wild, 7 p.m.