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2024 Stanley Cup Final

Plane Fun: Florida Panthers Say Flight Delay No Big Deal



Florida panthers flight
The distance between Fort Lauderdale and Edmonton is the longest in North American pro sports history. // Graphic courtesy @FlaPanthers

The Florida Panthers had a charter flight which was closely watched by hockey fans across North America on Wednesday afternoon.

Due to extreme rain in South Florida, the Panthers flight out of Fort Lauderdale turned out to be delayed three hours — with speculation about whether they would be able to get off the ground building as time went on.

On Thursday, a number of Panthers talked about the delay — and how it was not the big deal it was being portrayed as in real time on social media and the like.

Florida plays Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the host Oilers tonight.

“We spent a little more time together,’’ Anton Lundell said. “The guys who played cards had a little bit more time to win or lose some money, and we were just watching how it goes.

“We had a great time, and I don’t think any of us think it was a big deal. Everybody had a great time, we had a great sleep and we had a great practice.’’

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According to coach Paul Maurice, many team and staff members simply hung out at the IcePlex in Fort Lauderdale a little longer than usual.

The Panthers knew the flight was delayed from its original 1 p.m. time, so they just chilled out.

“To put this in perspective, our day got pushed two hours,” Maurice said, “so we spent an hour at our rink a little longer. We’ve got an unbelievable rink. The busiest time in the NHL is when you leave for a road game, from the time a guy gets off the ice until you get to the airport.

“It’s kind of hectic; The trainers are pulling bags, there’s guys flying all over the place. That disappeared. We sat there, our chef is unbelievable. The coaches put on seven pounds yesterday. That’s the only ramification. We ate 12 meals. They got on the plane, we spent an extra hour and a half on the tarmac, whatever it was. They played cards, they laughed.

“Every time one of the trainers walked in and he was soaked from head to toe, he got a standing ovation, and then the flight was the same length, so we get here at whatever, 8 o’clock instead of 6 o’clock or whatever it was. Our day was not serious.”

As Florida Hockey Now reported, one player and a prominent member of the on-ice staff were spotted shopping at the team store just as the flight was originally supposed to take off while other members of the traveling party were enjoying a light lunch in the second floor cafe.

“We had some time where we got delayed and we were still at the rink,’’ Evan Rodrigues said.

“Some guys went home, stuff like that. We had an hour or so on the plane too. Some time in the car waiting for a shuttle to the plane. So, a little bit of everything. … We love adversity. We got some more team bonding time. It was fun.”

Said Oliver Ekman-Larsson: “Everybody else is making it a bigger deal than what it was, really.”

As the rain continued to fall and the airport went into a ground stop as I-95 was closed due to flooding, there certainly was some concern the flight would be stuck for much longer than it was.

The Panthers knew, eventually, they would get into the air.

But if not?

“I mean, you never really know,” Rodrigues said. “We didn’t care. If we had to leave this morning, we would’ve left this morning. It’s no excuses this time of the year and we would’ve embraced the challenge. It was a unique experience. It was some serious rain coming down, but obviously happy to make it and look forward to getting the puck drop tonight.’’

For More FHN Coverage of the Florida Panthers:

Panthers Lead Best of 7 Series 2-0
  • When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Rogers Place; Edmonton, Alberta
  • National TV: ABC
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; 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 app
  • Series Schedule, All Games 8 p.m. on ABC — Game 1: @Florida 3, Edmonton 0; Game 2: @Florida 4, Edmonton 1; Game 3: Florida at Edmonton, Thursday; Game 4:Florida at Edmonton, Saturday June 15; Game 5*: Edmonton at Florida, Tuesday June 18; Game 6*:Florida at Edmonton, Friday June 21; Game 7*: Edmonton at Florida, Monday June 24. (*) – If Necessary
  • How They Got Here — Florida: d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2, New York Rangers 4-2; Edmonton: d. Los Angeles 4-1, Vancouver 4-3, Dallas 4-2.
  • This Season (Florida Won 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Oilers 3 (Nov. 20). At Edmonton: Panthers 5, Oilers 2 (Dec. 17).
  • Last Season: Edmonton Won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Oilers lead 23-16-0, 3 ties
  • Postseason History: First Meeting

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