The Panthers won Game 2 of their first round series against the New Jersey Devils last night for the team’s first playoff win since April 17, 1997. Fans were excited to enjoy a playoff win that was fifteen years and fourteen seasons in the making. A lot has changed with the team, the league, and the country since that day in 1997.
Here’s a list:
-During the 1996-1997 NHL season, the Hartford Whalers and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were teams in the NHL. What’s more, current Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen was a player on that Whalers team!
- -In the 1996-1997 NHL season, there were only four NHL divisions. The Eastern Conference had the Atlantic Division and the Northeast Division. The Western Conference had the Central Division and the Pacific Division. The Atlantic and Pacific Divisions had seven teams, and the Northeast and Central Divisions had six teams.
-For the 1996-1997 NHL season, the Florida Panthers still played in Miami Arena. Of course, now the Cats play in the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida.
-During the 1996-1997 season, Ray Sheppard led the Panthers with 29 goals and 60 points, and John Vanbiesbrouck was the Cats’ goaltender.
-In the 1996-1997, Wayne Gretzky was still in the NHL, playing for the New York Rangers.
-Since the 1996-1997 season, twenty-nine different teams in the National Hockey League have played in the postseason. For those keeping score at home, that’s every franchise in the NHL.
-Stephen Weiss played in 638 career games as a Panther starting in the 2001-2002 season including one playoff game and scored 144 goals and 390 points.
-Since the 1996-1997 NHL season, the Detroit Red Wings have won 104 playoff games and three Stanley Cups.
-Since the 1996-1997 NHL season, the city of Atlanta has gained their second NHL team and lost that same NHL team to Winnipeg.
-From the 1996-1997 NHL season until yesterday, the BankAtlantic Center, which opened for the 1998-1999 NHL season, has also been named the Broward County Civic Arena, the National Car Rental Center, and the Office Depot Center
-In 1997, Bill Clinton was President of the United States of America. Since then, we’ve had two more Presidents – George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
-In 1997, the population of the United States was 272,646,000. Today, the country’s population is 311,591,000 million. That is a 14% increase in population.
-In 1997, Titanic won the Oscar for Best Picture, Jack Nicholson won for Best Actor in As Good As It Gets, Helen Hunt won for Best Actress in As Good As It Gets. Ironically, Titanic was also just re-released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking.
-In 1997, Celine Dion won the Grammy for Album of the Year with Falling into You, Eric Clapton won the Grammy for Record of the Year with Change the World and Song of the Year with Change the World, and LeAnn Rimes won the Grammy for Best New Artist.
-Finally, in 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple to become its Chief Executive Officer
A lot of time has passed since the Florida Panthers won their last playoff game, and many things have happened. The Panthers are surely different as is the NHL and our world.
Jason grew up rooting for the Red Wings until his hometown of Atlanta got the Thrashers in 1999, so much for that. He is a Northwestern University alum and current 3L at the University of Miami School of Law. He is also the President of the Entertainment & Sports Law Society at the law school.