Is This Much Change For Better or Worse?
- Updated: June 24, 2016
After taking the Atlantic Division by storm and entering the playoffs for only the second time in 15 years, the Florida Panthers are changing the appearance of the franchise.
Ownership has decided to change the leaping panther logo that has represented this franchise for the past 23 years.
The new jerseys were unveiled on June 2nd at the BB&T in front of thousands of fans and modeled by Aaron Ekblad, Vincent Trocheck, Shawn Thornton, and Steven Kampfer.
Vinny Viola, owner of the Florida Panthers, said the franchise is headed in a new direction and the new logo is a step towards obtaining a Stanley Cup.
Although there have been changes in Florida’s jerseys over the years, completely transforming the well-known jersey and logo that was popular among so many fans is risky, especially after such a breakthrough season.
According to an article on ESPN by Paul Lucas, the Panthers and Reebok hoped to have the new jerseys available by the 2015-2016 season, but underestimated the amount of time a total reconstruction would take.
This change was in the works for the past couple years, which explains the odd timing, but has received mixed reviews from fans.
The primary logo that is displayed on the front of the new home and away jerseys is inspired by the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army logo. Vinny Viola is very military oriented and his devotion towards incorporating them into the franchise is commendable.
However, change is never easy and it will take a bit of time for fans to come to terms with the loss of a beloved logo and jersey.
The Panthers have never won a Stanley Cup whilst sporting their original logo, and ownership hopes that a new logo and jersey will somehow contribute to bettering the team on the ice.
In addition to changing their logo, the Panthers are making some hefty changes from within.
Dale Tallon who has held the title of General Manager since 2010, was promoted to Director of Hockey Operations.
This resulted in the firing of Mike Dixon who has been with the organization for 11 years, working his way up the ranks until obtaining his former position as Director of Hockey Operations.
Tom Rowe, former head coach of the Panthers AHL affiliate in Portland and then associate general manager to Dale Tallon, was named the new General Manager of the Florida Panthers.
Under Rowe’s new found authority, there have been numerous changes towards long-term employees.
Former Assistant coach John Madden has been fired after being with the Panthers since 2013 after Kevin Dineen was fired.
Instead, Dave Barr, former Buffalo assistant coach, and Scott Allen, former AHL assistant coach for Portland, have been named the new assistant coaches under head coach Gerard Gallant.
Equipment managers, Chris Scopetto and Chris Moody have also been fired. Moody had been with the Panthers for 11 years alongside Scopetto who had been with the Panthers for 8 years.
Doug Cifu also announced that Team Vice President and IceDen director Jeff Campol has also been fired. Campol built the training facility where the Panthers practice back in 1996 before selling it in 1997. He was still very much involved with the organization, until the extreme staff changes.
Despite Vinny Viola’s supposed dedication to loyalty to this organization, staff, and fans, these bold firings seem to say otherwise.
With all of these changes occurring, one would think the Panthers are in the middle of rebuilding the team and moving past a losing season instead of breaking franchise records in points and wins and earning the title of Atlantic Division Champions.
The logic behind all of these terminations is unknown. The only explanation by ownership is that the Panthers needed to get better and that these changes would have been made “even had we won the Stanley Cup,” says Doug Cifu.
Although the intricacies of what led up to all these changes are unknown, the staff leading up to and during the 2015-2016 season have all contributed to the Florida Panthers recent success. It seems that most of these long term employees are finally seeing their hard work over the years pay off and instead of being rewarded, they are being reprimanded.
The Florida Panthers have grown tremendously as a team under head coach Gerard Gallant and are on their way to being a front runner for the Stanley Cup, but with so many seemingly unnecessary changes, there is a risk of disrupting their latest success.