Their head coach: Gerard Gallant. The most posh name in all of hockey. He sounds like British royalty in the 17th century. Do anything wrong, and off with your head! I wouldn't mess with a guy with that kind of name. Panthers players have to be the most well-disciplined of anyone in the league. I'm just gonna predict that. Sir Gallant is 52 years old and approaching his third season in suburban Miami. He was the coach of the Blue Jackets for two and a half seasons a decade ago and got fired after zero playoff appearances and a poor start to a season in that time. He's off to a much better start now. The Panthers just missed out on the playoffs in 2015, and were a sneaky dark horse last postseason after a blistering hot run in the middle of the regular season.
Their captain: Currently vacant. Jussi Jokinen would be my guess to win this job. I'd love for Jaromir Jagr to get it, but at this point of his career, if he's named captain, it'll probably only be for a season, because sadly at some point age will have to catch up with the all-time great. Whoever gets it, they'll be wearing the "C" in a new uniform with a new logo. The Panthers rebranded this offseason, now dawning these uniforms:
I'm not a huge fan of these, myself. They got rid of the shoulder patch logo that featured a hockey stick crossing a palm tree, and it was maybe my favorite logo of any kind in hockey. So I'm sad about that. These look like long sleeve MLS jerseys, to me. I don't follow soccer at all, but if Miami has a soccer team, I would picture them to wear a short sleeve version of that uniform. Maybe it'll grow on me though, once I see it in action.
Their 15-16 season: As referenced earlier, they were on a torrid stretch in the middle of the season. They won 12 straight from mid-December to mid-January, which helped them capture just their second division championship in franchise history. It didn't end quite so well for them, falling in a tough overtime loss to the New York Islanders when John Tavares went nuts, scoring a game-tying goal in the last minute of regulation, and then scoring a beautiful wrap-around goal in the second period of overtime. This team frankly deserved a better finish than that, because they were a fun Cinderella. The future is bright though, and we'll get into that below.
How did they do against the Avs? It was a split. Florida won in Florida 4-1 (I was not happy that night), Colorado won in Colorado (3-2) when the Avs did everything they could to give that game away.
When do they play the Avs this season? In Sunrise on October 22nd, and in Denver on December 16th.
Will they be good? I firmly believe that they will be. The Panthers went all in this offseason. They gave Keith Yandle the farm, which while debatable, should help their defense quite a bit. They also got Jason Demers and Colton Sceviour, formerly of the Stars, as well as James Reimer and RETO BERRA! I'm excited for Reto to hopefully shine in Sunrise (haha get it). Them and the Lightning are the class of this division and I'll be shocked if someone else in the Atlantic prevents the Florida teams from finishing first and second. I don't know if they can win Lord Stanley juuust yet, but I think they can reach the East Final if they play their cards right.
3 Questions with their SB Nation blog, Litter Box Cats: We're on another bad, answer-less streak. C'mon blogs! Help me out!