Florida, the new frontier of the NHL

The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers, both protagonists of the NHL season that you can follow on Sky Sport. But two different ways to achieve success. For a unique, great rivalry that promises to monopolize the present and future of American hockey

In a world with fewer and fewer borders and (thankfully) barriers, even ice, leaving aside any debate about global pollution, has widened its own. In fact, it has upset them. First the “Original Six” (Detroit Red Wings, NY Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks) then the images of frozen lakes in Canadian forests as a backdrop to the triumphs of Edmonton and Calgary. But now the state of the new NHL seems to have become Florida with its golden beaches, almost 30 degrees of humidity and its glamour. His first sun and his first sea, American professional hockey had tasted it in California with the Stanley Cups of the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks and with him Recent Finals in San Jose and Las Vegas. Now it’s the Sunshine State’s turn.

The origins of hockey in Florida

Florida! A magical place where passions, including sports ones, tend to travel and change like the tropical winds of those places and that today loves its hockey teams very much. Until the 80s, the NHL in those parts was only seen on TV, then in 1992 the Tampa Bay Lightning arrived Y the following year the Florida Panthers in Miami. Initially it seemed only the league’s will to cover the entire map of the States by expanding the market to the delight of the “real” franchises to have some warm and pleasant away games without the result being in doubt. From those days there are picturesque tales like that the Panthers training track was 3 stops x pints of beer from the Miami Arena where they played…


The rivalry between Lightning and Panthers

Today the 2 franchises are a beautiful reality, very serious and competitive. The Bolts took Tampa 3 Stanley Cup including the last 2 consecutive. The “gattoni del sud” a final in the second half of the 90 and currently a team full of young talent among the favorites to return to the Final to compete again for the Lord Stanley trophy. Two teams that do not love each other a lot and in hockey you feel the rivalry more than in other sports, two clubs with different result and conception.

The turning point of the Panthers

After failing to find success with legendary players abundantly in the latter half of their careers as jagr, ciccarelli, Nieuwendyk nor with rampant superstars (like pavel bure) who have never turned class into a trophy, the Panthers have decided to turn the page. To change the path of achieve success by focusing on youth. At all levels. From the draft, choosing extraordinary players like Barkov (21 goals before All Star Weekend) huberdeau (this year to the pass with 47 assists) ekblad (10 goals) the rookie goalkeeper spencer knight (9 wins) until the Finnish class of 2001 anton lundell (32 points as a rookie), but they expressed the choice of young people who also develop the “juvenile panthers”A brave project for very young people in an area without much tradition in hockey.

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From this job at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs north of Ft. Lauderdale, where he also coaches the first team, they started out as 5/6 year olds who have made it to the NHL over the years. From jakob chychrun Arizona 16th Election Announcement andrew peek (Columbus 34) from Chase Priske (chosen by the Washington Capitals and today the Panthers) a Brett Howden (Tampa Bay’s 27th pick) or even Riley Stillman (called by the Panthers).

Lightning: continuity, programming, fidelity

It is true that 4 children who put on skates and took the cue for the first time in Tampa with a lightning bolt in the chest also became professionals, but Lightning’s job was different and paid more. A technical planning with an owner, a technical director and a coach that has been around for many years, being able to set up a job. jeffry vinika Duke University hardliner who made a fortune in mortgages and pension funds, bought the Lightning stock package in the spring of 2010; julien brisebois behind the management desk since the summer of 2010 chose that same year jon cooper first as head coach of the Tampa AHL team (Norfolk Admirals) and then in March 3 years later he presented him as the 8th Head Coach in the history of the franchise. Continuity, programming, loyalty: a belief that has materialized in two more Stanley Cups after the one raised in 2004 and a loyal and passionate fan who never leaves an empty seat at Amalie Arena, the beautiful home of the Lightning reflected in the center of the Riverwalk. A passion in the city that recalls and exceeds that of university sports feelings, very unusual among professionals.

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This is perhaps more surprising than taking a walk through the city from the riverbank to the center. sportingly sharing the city with the Bucs of last year’s Super Bowl football champions there seems to be no comparison in the relationship of “presence”. Murals, banners on streetlights downtown, pictures painted on streetcars, posters and t-shirts hanging in sports bars are definitely more blue and white with the lightning bolt symbol.

the attacker Steven Stammos Rayo’s 471-goal captain, the experienced Swedish defender Victor Hedman with almost 1000 games played in the NHL with this jersey and the amazing Russian goalkeeper andrei vasilyeskiy chosen by Tampa in the first round with the 19th call in the 2012 Draft are the images of this franchise and the best guarantee of being among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup again. It would be a historic trio, the first since then. New York Islanders in the 1980s.

Derby for Stanley?

This time, however, the toughest rival could be the Panthers in a possible conference final. Last season they met in the first round of the playoffsthis year, with Florida that found a Bobrovsky at the highest level in goal, with the stars Barkov, Huberdeau and Duclair, the experience of Patrick Hornqvist in front of the opposite goal, the goals of Bennet and Reinhardt, the emerging Marchment, Forsling , Luostarinen and Lundell, the solidity behind Gudas and Weegar, the old Joe Thornton who wants to win his first ring and Verhaeghe who won one just in Tampa, but above all with the defensive class of Eklblad (in the playoffs last year he injured) could be another story entirely.

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