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A brief history: Florida Panthers

Saturday, 08.14.2010 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

By Michael Stainkamp - NHL.com Staff Writer

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A brief history: Florida Panthers
A brief history of the Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers joined the NHL in 1993, along with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, as part of NHL expansion.

The Panthers had one of the most successful first seasons by an expansion team, posting a 33-34-17 record. The team failed to make the playoffs in its first two seasons, and as a result coach Roger Neilson was fired. Doug MacLean was brought in and the team made its first playoff appearance in 1996.

That spring was magical in Florida as the Panthers beat the Boston Bruins in five games in the first round, upset the heavily-favored Philadelphia Flyers in six games in the second round and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

In the Stanley Cup Final, they faced off against the Colorado Avalanche -- but the Avs, in their first season in Denver after relocating from Quebec -- swept the series in four straight.

The following season, the success continued as the Panthers kicked off the season with a 17-game unbeaten streak. However, the success didn't translate to the playoffs, as they eventually lost in the first round against the New York Rangers.

Since their Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1996, the Panthers have made the playoffs twice, both times losing in the opening round. After failing to make the playoffs this past season, the Panthers have missed the postseason nine straight seasons, tying an NHL record for most consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance in one city. They will be looking to put that streak to an end with players such as Stephen Weiss and David Booth leading the pack.
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It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

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