Scott Mellanby remains one of the most iconic players in Florida Panthers’ history. From the infamous “Rat Trick” to his 157 goals and 354 points as a Panther, his resume in South Florida stands up today as one of the best in franchise history.
Mellanby was selected in the 1993 NHL Expansion Draft from the Edmonton Oilers, joining the Panthers after spending his last two seasons in Western Canada. In 149 games as an Oiler, he had 38 goals and 48 assists for 82 points in 149 games. From that point on, he became one of the greatest players to ever be selected in an NHL Expansion Draft.
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Mellanby nearly doubled his point total from his last season in Edmonton in the Panthers’ inaugural season, scoring 30 goals and 30 assists for 60 points in 80 games. He led the team in both goals and points by at least 10 in each category, quickly becoming the face of the franchise. He also helped the Panthers to a 33-34-17 record, one of the best from an incoming expansion franchise at the time. They missed the playoffs by just one point.
In the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, it was more of the same from Mellanby, as he scored 13 goals and 25 points in 48 games for the Panthers. He continued to help the Panthers draw closer to contention, as they missed the playoffs by just one point for the second straight season, going 22-23-3. However, 1995-96 was the season when the Panthers broke out, and Mellanby was a huge part of it, scoring 32 goals and 38 assists for 70 points in 79 games. Leading the team in both categories, the then 29-year-old led the Panthers to their first playoff berth in franchise history, as they went 41-31-10.
On opening night, Mellanby started a tradition that still remains an integral part of the experience at a Panthers game to this day, as he killed a rat in the locker room during the first intermission of the team’s home opener against the Calgary Flames. He went on to score two goals that game, then goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck proclaimed that Mellanby scored a “rat trick.” Now, Panthers fans throw plastic rats after hat tricks and wins to this day.
His production did not falter in the postseason either, as he added three goals and nine points in 22 postseason games as he led the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. They fell in four games to the Colorado Avalanche and have not won a postseason series since, now having the longest active postseason series-winning drought in the league.
Mellanby would lead the Panthers to the playoffs two more times in his career, scoring 26 goals and 56 points in 82 games in the 1996-97 season to lead the team to their second-straight postseason appearance. He registered just two assists in a five-game series loss to the New York Rangers. The last time Mellanby led the Panthers to the playoffs was his final full season in Florida in 1999-2000, when he scored 18 goals and 46 points in 77 games. He would register one assist in a four-game series sweep at the hands of the New Jersey Devils
After scoring four goals and 13 points in the first 40 games of the 2000-01 season, Mellanby was traded to the St. Louis Blues for minor leaguer Dave Morrissett and a 2002 fifth-round pick that turned into Vince Bellisimo.
Mellanby’s Panthers Legacy
Mellanby ranks sixth in Panthers’ history in games played (552), fourth in franchise history in goals (157), and fifth in franchise history in points (354). He also previously held the record for most goals in a season by a Panther (32) in 1995-96 that now ranks ninth in franchise history to this day.
He also gets credit for being the leader of Florida’s furthest playoff run of all time and starting the most iconic tradition in Panthers history while also being the second-longest serving captain in franchise history, serving for four seasons between 1997-98 and 2000-01. Only Aleksander Barkov has served as a Panthers captain for longer.
While his statistics may not be among the flashiest in NHL history, Mellanby remains one of the most iconic players in Panthers’ history, and quite possibly one of the greatest. He sparked one of the most successful periods the team has seen, he started a tradition that still remains integral to Panthers’ lore to this day, and he gave them some of the most productive seasons the team has ever seen from a player.
Colby Guy is a writer for the Florida Panthers department here at THW. He’s a senior at Florida Atlantic University and currently serves as a football contributor, social media contributor and photographer for FAU Owls Nest.
Previously, Colby has written for FanSided as a New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators writer. He also served as Editor-In-Chief for FAU’s University Press. You can find him on Twitter at @ColbyDGuy.