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Panthers executive Luukko celebrates streak in style

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers executive chairman Peter Luukko stood out when he wore a bright red suit to their game against the Edmonton Oilers at BB&T Center on Monday.

But Luukko was wearing the suit proudly.

Luukko wore the red suit as the result of a friendly wager he made with members of the Panthers front office during the holidays after they won five games in a row.

Luukko said if the streak reached 10 games, he would wear a red suit at a home game.

The Panthers extended their streak to a franchise-record 12 games, replacing the old mark by four games, with a victory against the Oilers at Rexall Place on Jan. 10 before losing in overtime at Vancouver the next night. The game against Edmonton on Monday is their first at BB&T���Center since Jan. 3 when they beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 for their ninth consecutive victory.

"I've been doing this for over 25 years and I might have one other 10-game winning streak,"���said Luukko, who joined the Panthers in February 2015 after working for the Philadelphia Flyers. "A little bit of a long shot, but I got my suit.

"I���kind of like it. Hey, if it'll guarantee wins, I'll wear anything."

The idea of the suit wager actually came after Florida started winning with Luukko wearing a Panthers tie.

"I was in New York and I���forgot my ties and Matt Caldwell, our chief operating officer, I called down to get a tie, so he gave me this Panthers tie,"���Luukko said. "We won, so I wore it the next night. And the next night. And the next game. So it became kind of a lucky tie to coaches and all of us."

Along with bringing him to BB&T���Center with a bright red suit, the Panthers' winning streak had another impact for Luukko and the team.

Luukko said the winning streak, which pushed the Panthers to the top of the Atlantic Division standings, helped at the box office.

"We were on the rise this season anyway, but it really started to see a big uptick because people began to believe in the team and see what the team could do,"���Luukko said. "We're a fun team to watch. The streak really has helped us load up for the back end of the season and we won't have any game with a small attendance the rest of the year.

"We're doing big-dollar days right now. Listen, winning is always the best marketing and promotion, and that's really what it was and it came at a good time for us."

With the winning streak over, Luukko said the red suit will be put away after Monday. He didn't close the door on the suit making a return appearance, though.

"If we do that again (win 10 consecutive games), I'd certainly wear it again,"���Luukko said. "We make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, I'll wear it every game."

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