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.