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2024 Stanley Cup Champions

Why No Love for the Florida Panthers at the NHL Draft?



Florida Panthers
Florida Panthers mascot Stanley C. Panther has some fun on the ice during the Stanley Cup celebration early Tuesday morning in Sunrise. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

With no picks in the first round, Florida Panthers fans watching Friday’s coverage of the NHL Draft in Las Vegas planned to take note of which teams failed to congratulate their team for winning the Stanley Cup.

Turns out, it was a long list.

The Panthers, aside from a passing mention on ESPN, were not mentioned by team executives throughout the draft.

“No one likes us,” general manager Bill Zito joked at the end of the draft Saturday afternoon. “Is there any Canadian media here? I’m just kidding.’’

The truth, as Zito pointed out, was less sinister than that.

The NHL has been trying to cut down the length of the draft for years and, next year, it will mostly be held virtually with teams making their selections from their home cities.

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This year, most teams had special guests introduce their first-round selections — San Jose had Joe Thornton, Montreal had Celine Dion, Philadelphia went with Michael Buffer, and so on — which led to quicker introductions from team personnel.

Sure, Rick’s Wing Hut got the occasional shoutout for hosting a team’s watch party back home, but the chit-chat was limited.

The NHL also eliminated the role call, which was a draft mainstay at the start of each day.

So, having every team — or, at least, the majority — dutifully come up and say “we’d like to congratulate the Florida Panthers” was unnecessary and, from what it sounds like, frowned upon.

Zito said that he spent much of his time in Vegas being congratulated by friends and peers.

That was just before he ran off to the airport to catch a flight back in order to be at Florida’s victory parade on Sunday in Fort Lauderdale.

“They’re just streamlining it,’’ Zito said. “I could not have gotten any more congratulations today. I actually had to go and do a trade, and someone stopped me — a good friend — and I couldn’t walk by him. It’s all good. It’s all nice.’’

More FHN Coverage of the Stanley Cup Champion Panthers:

  • Stanley Cup Championship Parade, Fort Lauderdale:Sunday, 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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Thanks for addressing this George, it was noticeably absent. It will be interesting to see if it continues after this year. In other words, if next years winner gets congrats, THEN we should take it personally.

Cats and Oilers

What trade was he referring to? Moving up in the draft?


Not sure… Knowing we didn’t have a first or even a second this year. Honestly I haven’t paid too much attention to draft rankings and what not. I will say we were ranked seventh overall on TS.N’s. Winners and losers board, the russian center we got in the fourth round with like the 120th pick, was ranked 45th on the Athletics rankings, he’s a big center, like 6’4″ 195. Once he puts on his “man” muscle, he should be around 215 or so. Not sure why he fell so far after being ranked so high on so many people’s boards,… Read more »

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