(Ed. Note: There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!)
Written by Matt Lichtenstadter of Matt's Sports Musings
Most Disappointing Team: 1996-1997 Florida Panthers
How to build on a remarkable trip to the Stanley Cup Final...
The Panthers chose to collapse spectacularly. They amazingly picked up right where they left off in the playoffs, starting the New Year 8-0-4, and continued to be first in the East all the way until the All-Star break.
But the seeds of disappointment were sewn when Bryan Murray decided to trade the dependable Stu Barnes along with Jason Wooley to Pittsburgh for Chris Wells, who scored an amazing 2 goals in 47 games for the Panthers that year (he scored only 5 more in his Panthers career)! So naturally, the Cats fell off a cliff.
The dramatic slide culminated in a 5 game ECQF loss to the Rangers, and since the Panthers have been to the playoffs twice in 17 years as the '96 team was slowly dismantled. So after Bryan Murray let a very dependable center leave, the franchise fell very far, very fast. Be afraid Ottawa, be very afraid.
Most Disappointing Panther: Petr Taticek
Well I'm certainly not wanting for choices here... I have a litany of draft busts, failed trades, and overpaid role players to choose from.
I could talk about high draft busts like Denis Shvidki, Lucas Krajicek or Rostislav Olesz. I could talk about an even more infamous bust in Kenndal McArdle whom the Cats took 10th overall in 2005 and scored an astonishing 1 goal for the Cats in 33 games. I could even talk again about that silly trade involving that goaltender and that team in British Columbia.
But I'm going to bypass all of them including the high draft picks that never quite panned out to pick out my personal favorite in Petr Taticek. The Panthers drafted him 9th overall in 2002, and loved him so much they moved up one spot to draft him. The love wasn't conditional I guess, since he played a whopping 3 games for the Panthers before being traded to Pittsburgh for Richard Jackman. In a history of hilarious draft busts, Taticek was the biggest bust of them all.
Most Disappointing Moment in Panthers History: Adam Henrique breaks my heart in Game 7
Since the franchise history of the Panthers is filled with crushing disappointment (mainly because the team has been cataclysmically bad) finding an individual moment is quite difficult. But there are a few.
Instead of talking about Uwe Krupp, I'll talk about Adam Henrique. Game 7 at the BankAtlantic Center was a tense one with the Devils getting an early 2-0 lead as they did in Game 6. The Cats promptly came back and put Martin Brodeur under siege in the 3rd period and the beginning part of the first OT. John Madden (yes that John Madden) was inches away from beating the team he had won a Cup with 9 years earlier and sending the Panthers off to face the Flyers, but it was not meant to be.
In Double OT, Adam Henrique ripped a wrister that beat Jose Theodore, and also beat my heart into submission.
I sat in silence for at least 30 minutes wondering what I had done to deserve such torture, until I reminded myself that I'm a Panthers fan, so losing in Game 7 of anything was an improvement.
The hockey world didn't suffer too badly though, as the Devils easily dispatched the Flyers which is something I guarantee you the Panthers wouldn't have done. So, at least there was a positive?
Most Disappointing Panthers Transaction: The second trade involving that Strombone guy
I guess your hand is kind of forced when your team made one of the worst trades in the history ofprofessional sports, but these are the Florida Panthers so the worst trade has to be one that is so amazingly terrible.
As one Jeff Marek has told, the Panthers actually had an agreement to trade Luongo to Boston for Joe Thornton, but that was nixed because the Panthers were owned by someone at the time that had no money, so taking on salary was a no-go.
Alas, the Cats traded a fantastic goaltender in Luongo for one who was not so fantastic in Alex Auld, a league pariah who played 8 games for the Cats (get your Cup O' Coffee jersey while you can) in Todd Bertuzzi, and a 3rd pairing defenseman in Bryan Allen, who I have to remind myself at times did in fact play for the Florida Panthers.
Luongo went on to become a Canucks legend, and two of the pieces the Panthers received in the trade were not with the team by the summer of 2007. But now 7 years later, at least the circle of life is complete with Shawn Matthias being traded to Vancouver for Luongo. I'd have some trouble re-writing the Circle of Life with new lyrics, so I'll leave it to Harrison Mooney to write and sing.
Most Disappointing Panthers Coach/Executive: Michael Yormark
Michael Yormark... what a man.
The old Cats President loved to advertise more to opposing fans than he did his own, liked to pick fights with the only member of the Florida Panthers media contingent worth a damn, as well as fans, and brought us the joy known as Club Red, which probably was named after the color of the empty seats you mainly saw because everyone was on the concourse eating instead of watching the game.
But at least there was some good news: He helped the Panthers "survive", apparently. "Where I've been the past 11 years, I was focused every day on surviving in a competitive market. We did," he said upon his departure to work for Jay-Z.
So... thanks? I'm sure Broward County enjoyed being swindled every day of your 11 years as Panthers president to keep the team afloat.
It's no coincidence that the day after Yormark got the sack that Roberto Luongo became a Panther again.
Most Disappointing Panthers Fashion Choice: The "JetBlue's" 3rd Jersey
Only the Panthers could have a 3rd jersey nicknamed after a company that sponsored the team, but if you didn't expect the Panthers to at some point have that, then you don't know the Panthers.
In 2009 they unveiled a uniform that looked nothing like a Panthers sweater:
In fact looked more like a Penguins 3rd jersey than it did anything resembling the Florida Panthers:
Just because everyone else wanted a sweater like this at the time doesn't mean you need one too.
Thankfully once Dale Tallon came into the fold, everyone suddenly came to their senses and realized this was a horrible idea. With the move back to red, the JetBlue's were thankfully killed off. Never again will there be a uniform nicknamed because of a team sponsor, and the world is probably better off for it.
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Other disappointments (in order of appearance): New York Rangers • Calgary Flames • St. Louis Blues • New York Islanders • Dallas Stars • Boston Bruins • Colorado Avalanche • Washington Capitals • Ottawa Senators • Arizona Coyotes • Minnesota Wild • Edmonton Oilers • San Jose Sharks • Winnipeg Jets • New Jersey Devils • Los Angeles Kings • Carolina Hurricanes • Buffalo Sabres • Montreal Canadiens • Tampa Bay Lightning • Chicago Blackhawks • Columbus Blue Jackets • Nashville Predators • Detroit Red Wings • Anaheim Ducks • Philadelphia Flyers • Pittsburgh Penguins • Vancouver Canucks • Toronto Maple Leafs