The arena that has played host to the Florida Panthers since 1998 has a new name, the BB&T Center. Everyone knew the name change was coming for months now, but we had no idea when. Of course this is not the first time the Sunrise, Florida based arena has had its identity changed. The building has had a total of five different names during its 14 years of existence.
- Broward County Civic Arena (1998)
- Nation Car Rental Center (1998 – 2002)
- Office Depot Center (2002 – 2005)
- BankAtlantic Center (2005 – 2012)
- BB&T Center (2012 – Current)
Why the sudden change? BB&T has officially bought out BankAtlantic. For more information on the name switch and merger of the two banks, click here.
In any professional sport over the course of a season teams have defining moments that separate the winners from the rest of the league. During the last couple of months we have highlighted nine of these moments from the Florida Panthers 2011-2012 season. Now, after over a month of waiting, it is finally time for us to reveal the number one moment on our countdown. Trust us when we say that this is a moment that will go down as one of the best in franchise history, especially considering the fact that all of the so called “hockey experts” wrote off the Panthers before the season even began.
#1 – SouthEast Champs (April 7th, 2012)
Leave it to the Panthers to wait until the final game of 2012 to have one of the most important season defining moments in franchise history. Florida held the number one spot in the SouthEast division for the majority of the season until Washington forced them into a must win situation in game number 82 against the Carolina Hurricanes. If Carolina wins the Cats drop out of the top spot in the SE, lose home ice advantage for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and fail to secure a divisional title that they owned for most of the 2011-2012 season. Thankfully Florida finished the year strong by defeating the Hurricanes 4-1 and winning their first ever divisional championship.
While the win was great the post-game celebration was even greater, especially for the diehard fans. The cheering section that has gathered in front of Pantherland since 2007 grew larger than ever before, no matter how hard Michael Yormark and his Club Red goons, aka security personnel, tried to stop it. On that night Panthers fans were finally able to speak the words “playoff hockey” inside the BankAtlantic Center for the first time in over a decade. Most importantly, during that glorious night, the fans were finally able to put the past 12 heart breaking years behind them.
Clearly everyone has their own favorite moment from the 2011-2012 season, including our good friend Donny Rivette, founder of Litter Box Cats. We reached out to Donny and asked him to share his most memorable moment from last year and this is what he had to say.
“What stands out to me? Simple: October 15, around 6 p.m, watching fans file in to the newly en-reddened BankAtlantic Center for the first home game of the 2011-12 campaign. Regardless of an existing 1-1 record, surprising to no one, given the previous opponents were the Islanders and Penguins. What cemented the impression was a sense of newfound excitement and reset-button enthusiasm which had been missing in previous openers. Before it was “here we go again; hope for the best but unquestionably ready for yet another pointless sweater giveaway in early April”. The undeniable sign of a True, though realistic fan, but this home opener had hallmarks of something far different. Nothing clear enough to establish as a physical manifestation of Victory By Committee, but anyone in the building that night should stand by the stereotype of a Community Engaged. This was a Big Ticket.”
“Unquestionably, more than a few folks morphed from “I attended due to boredom and/or a free ticket” to “I’m sold on this because it’s solid entertainment,” which was evident just in walking through the concourses as the game went on. The Panthers hadn’t yet won 2 games and word began to carry: this is where the action is. I’ve never personally met a larger number of admitted non-hockey fans before that night who changed their collective tune within an hour, and all were beside themselves with praise for a sport they previously gave so little attention to. A terrific night which set the stage for all which followed.”
We hope that our readers enjoyed Sunshine State Hockey’s countdown of the top 10 moments of Florida’s 2011-2012 season. This year was truly one to remember for Panthers fans everywhere. Hopefully the National Hockey League and its players association can reach a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement before the September 15th deadline so we do not have to wait any longer for another memorable hockey season in South Florida.
Finally we would like to thank Donny Rivette from Litter Box Cats for his great input. We also want to remind our readers one final time to click through the links below for the full experience of moment #1.
As the days go by we continue to get deeper into our countdown of the top 10 moments from the Panthers 2011-2012 season. Today we will take a look at another memorable moment from the 2012 Stanley Cup playoff series against the New Jersey Devils. Of course that should come as no surprise after we revealed #4 from our list on Monday. #3 on our countdown earned its rank over game 7 because it is an event that has not occurred for the Panthers in over a decade. Every member of the Cats roster would agree when we say that making it to the post-season is great, but winning is even better.
#3 – Florida wins their first playoff game in nearly 15 years (April 15th, 2012)
April 17th, 1997 is an historic date for the Florida Panthers. Why? Because that is the last time the organization won a playoff game. That is until Stephen Weiss scored two power-play goals and Jose Theodore made 23 saves to lead the Panthers to victory in game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on April 15th, 2012, nearly 15 years to the day of Florida’s last playoff win. What made the W even better was what took place after the final buzzer; it rained rats.
Marc’s take: It goes without saying that game 2 against the New Jersey Devils was a memorable experience for any Panthers fan that was able to attend. The crowd was absolutely electric and the team controlled play for the majority of the game, especially in the first period. To those who did not make it out to the BankAtlantic Center on April 15th, 2012 for whatever reason all you need to know is that you missed one hell of a game.
Everyone knows the drill by know, hopefully. Click all of the links below for the full moment #3 experience and come back tomorrow for the reveal of moment #2. Also do not forget that when we reveal #1 on our top 10 list we will have a special surprise (or two), so stay tuned.
For moment #4 on Sunshine State Hockey’s top 10 countdown of the best moments from the Florida Panthers 2011-2012 season I am going to share my personal experience. By doing so I hope that everyone can realize just how special this moment was, especially for someone who has never witnessed live playoff hockey until this season. This rare event is something every hockey fan dreams of witnessing in their home arena, no matter how nervous they get. Of course I am talking about game 7.
#4 – Game 7, nothing better (April 26th, 2012)
Even though the final score of game 7 between the New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers was not one the home fans wanted it seemed everyone still left the BankAtlantic Center smiling, including me. Why would people smile after such a tough loss? Because we got to scream to the top of our lungs when Marcel Goc tied it late after the Cats trailed for the majority of the game. We witnessed the Panthers leaving it all on the ice until Adam Henrique scored the final goal in double OT for the Devils. We smiled walking out of the BAC that night because we got to see our team go to double OT in game 7 after not watching playoff hockey in South Florida for 12 years. Most importantly though there were smiles on our faces because we all knew that this was just the beginning.
By the way, those same New Jersey Devils that the Panthers pushed to the brink of elimination are currently locked in a battle with the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals. The Devils also easily made it past the Philadelphia Flyers in round two to advance to their current series, so Florida’s performance in the quarterfinals looks really good at this point. As Panthers fans continue to watch the 2012 NHL playoffs and imagine what could have been we all still keep those smiles on our faces because we know that soon it will be the Panthers locked in a heated Eastern Conference finals’ battle to see who advances to play for the Stanley Cup.
Browse the links below for great content related to moment #4 and be sure to check in with SSH tomorrow when we reveal moment #3 on our top 10 list.
Today we continue on with our journey to the #1 most memorable moment from the Florida Panthers 2011-2012 season by revealing #6 on our top 10 list. The moment we are about to discuss is a game in which the Cats absolutely needed to win, especially for their fans in attendance at the BankAtlantic Center, or at least those who were able to get tickets. We could not think of a better way to ring in 2012 than how the Panthers did this season.
#6 – Happy New Year Montreal! Panthers send invading Habs fans home with a loss (December 31st, 2011)
While other people in South Florida were at night clubs and bars celebrating the New Year Panthers fans were busy watching their team send the Montreal Canadiens and their swarm of fans that invaded the BAC home with a loss. The Canadiens went into the first intermission with a one goal lead, but that would change early in the second period when Tomas Fleischmann ripped a shot past Montreal goaltender Carey Price on the powerplay, tying the game at one. Then, at the start of the third period, Shawn Matthias would squeak a shot by an unsuspecting Price to give the Panthers their first lead of the night, sucking the arrogance out of the pro-Habs crowd. Fleischmann scored one more late in the game and Florida survived a late surge from the Canadiens, sending them and their fans home frustrated.
Marc’s take: At a season ticket holder meeting during the 2010-2011 season Sunrise Sports and Entertainment COO Michael Yormark promised fans in attendance, including me, that Florida will NOT play Montreal on New Year’s Eve. Since it was Yormark who made the promise I was not at all surprised when it was announced that the Panthers would indeed play the Canadiens on December 31st, 2011. I look at it this way; these new Panthers are not like the teams of the past that were bullied by visiting clubs and their fans. Keep scheduling the New Year’s Eve game against the Habs Michael, let them spend their money at the BankAtlantic Center and let our team send them home upset.
Enjoy the video above and the links below from moment #6. Come back tomorrow as we continue our countdown to the #1 most memorable moment of the Florida Panthers 2011-2012 season.