Donald Trump has put his name on many things: Buildings, golf courses, water, wine, steaks, his own magazine, presumably a tax return. About 17 years before becoming President of the United States* he looked into putting his name down as an owner of a National Hockey League team.
It was around 1999. The Panthers were a playoff-caliber team with a new 20,000-seat arena, but original owner Wayne Huizenga and Boca Resorts wanted to sell them. According to Panthers executive Bill Torrey, among the interested parties was one Donald J. Trump.
George Richards of the Miami Herald recalls the time when Trump sent out feelers about buying the Florida Panthers:
A member of Trump’s organization contacted Torrey to talk about the Panthers, who, at that time were arguably South Florida’s No. 2 professional sports team behind the Dolphins. “Amongst the interested parties was the Trump organization,” Torrey said.
“Donald had owned the football team in the USFL and his brother Bob was one of our first season ticket holders on Long Island when we started. I don’t think they had much interest in the Panthers, but they did inquire.”
Although Torrey was directed to unload the Panthers under orders from the Boca Resorts board of directors — the hockey team was part of a publicly traded company whose stock was slipping — Huizenga told him to keep ownership local.
“I did the interviewing with the interested parties,” Torrey said, “and Wayne wasn’t going to sell to anyone outside of South Florida. The Trump folks inquired, but they knew we were trying to keep it local.”
The notion of Trump as an NHL owner is surreal on several fronts, and not just that the Panthers obviously would have incorporated gold into their uniforms about 16 years before they did. We would have “Make Hockey Great Again” as a slogan at some point (and, we imagine, a pile of MHGA lids on the ice during hat tricks). The team offices relocated to Mar-a-Lago, while the NHL Awards would have been in Atlantic City. Director of Hockey Operations Eric Trump. A string of Miss Universes dropping the ceremonial first pucks. Terrible food.
Oh, and perhaps most importantly: Donald Trump would have been an active member of the NHL’s Board of Governors, getting a chance to opine on rules, free agents, the media, labor negotiations, the media, controversial calls, the media and also the media.
Oh, well, what might have been. We’ll have to settle for having a member of Trump’s White House as Panthers owner instead.
(* This is your reminder that Trump will totally be in the locker room if the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup on home ice, and that he is going to be greeting Stanley Cup champions at the White House for the next four years, assuming there’s still, you know, the Earth and stuff.)
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