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Florida Panthers unveil new logo, uniforms

First significant changes since entering NHL in 1993

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers unveiled a new logo and uniforms at BB&T Center on Thursday, and they reflected the influence of the military on the organization.

The new primary logo, to be used on the road uniform, includes a panther inside a shield with "Florida" set in a tab across the top. The same logo design will be on the front of the home uniform with "Panthers" in the tab. The primary colors are Panthers Red, Panthers Blue and Panthers Flat Gold.

The logo is inspired by the patch for the Army's 101st Airborne Division. Vinnie Viola, who became owner of the Panthers prior to the 2013-14 season, served in the division.

"I think the logo harkens to the vanguard of courage, the idea that you put a shield on the hockey uniform," Viola said. "It's something to protect, but you also protect it. We wanted something that began a new tradition of winning and demonstrated courage and selfless dedication to a team pursuit of victory."

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: A fresh look for the Cats. ��

The new alternate logo, which includes the Florida state flag with a sleek prowling panther above it, will appear on the shoulder of the jerseys. There also is a separate tab for the Panthers captain and alternates.

With the exception of tweaks, the Panthers have had the same logo, featuring a leaping panther, and red and blue jerseys since they began play in 1993-94.

To celebrate the unveiling, the Panthers held a party for fans at their arena with players Aaron Ekblad, Vincent Trocheck, Shawn Thornton and Steven Kampfer, and alumni Ed Jovanovski, Radek Dvorak, Bill Lindsay and Olli Jokinen.

"I'm real excited," Trocheck said. "I don't even see why anybody would complain about it. It's a great logo. It's a fresh start for us. We've been on the up for the last two years. The organization has never won a [Stanley] Cup with the old logo, so it's a time to start new, start fresh, have a new logo, have a new look. We're a pretty fresh team. We're pretty young. We have a lot of new guys. It's the perfect time to change the logo if you're going to do it. It's nice. It's classy. It's serious. Kind of says we mean business. Hopefully we can do big things with it."

The Panthers' third logo, displaying the evolution of the original leaping panther, was tweaked and will be used as a helmet decal.

"We wanted very much to say that this was a new and mature and stable franchise," said John Viola, the owner's son who worked closely with Reebok on the new uniforms. "Frankly, we felt that as much as we loved the leaping cat, an expansion team has got to show you its claws and show you its teeth and be sort of up front with their strength.

"And a team like us, 22 years in that's only getting better, we can be the guy in the back who you know he's tough and you know you don't want to mess with him and his performance. But we wanted to have that leaping panther there. It is our mark, it is our history and it means [something] to the franchise. So we wanted a new cat in the same sort of mold, and I think that we got that."

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: He likes his new digs, huh?

Vinnie Viola announced Thursday that the Panthers will play a preseason game Oct. 8 against the New Jersey Devils at the U.S. Military Academy's Tate Rink in West Point, N.Y., the home of Army hockey. John Viola said proceeds will go to Wounded Warriors.

Panthers president/CEO Matt Caldwell and assistant general manager Eric Joyce also are Army veterans.

After the logo was unveiled, it was shown atop the scoreboard with a scroll flashing the words fight, pride, respect, dedication, courage, honor, effort, community.

Videos shown on the scoreboard included highlights from this season, when Florida won the Atlantic Division with a Panthers-record 103 points before losing an Eastern Conference First Round series to the New York Islanders in six games, and a message from two soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.

"It's important for this organization because I think it's safe to say, for our family, the United States military has given us not only a big part of our value system but also the opportunity for us to even be here," John Viola said. "The idea that you belong to something greater than yourself is often lost in a world where it's really easy to just be by yourself.

"And we wanted to make sure that those values that are so important to who we are as a people, as a family, were part of this franchise. And the best way to do that is visually because people follow your brand and they follow what you look like. It's essential to who we are as a family, as shepherds of all of our organizations, and it'll be essential to who we are as the Florida Panthers."

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