With all of the action witnessed on Friday (and a tiny bit Saturday as well) combined with several moves made in the days prior, it's darned near impossible not to rank this summer's opening of the NHL free agency period as one of the most pivotal off-ice events in the history of the Florida Panthers franchise.
Whether one heavily agrees with the signings or finds them questionable at best, few can argue many other events have so radically (re-) shaped the organization, from the many acquisitions to allowing players to walk.
I perused several substantially historic moments throughout Florida's seventeen-season timeline, and beyond two notables (the Pavel Bure seven-player trade with Vancouver and the 1993 Entry Draft; a complete bust after the Rob Niedermayer
selection at number one overall), found only the '93 Expansion Draft to be so similarly consequential to the future of the club as the week just gone by. Is one really "better" than the other, or an unfair comparison? Lists of players involved and poll after the jump...
1993 NHL Expansion Draft
Panthers' picks (Anaheim was the other new club involved):
4 - Mark Fitzpatrick, G Jets
15 - Gord Murphy, D Stars
18 - Steve Bancroft, D Jets
20 - Stephane Richer, D Bruins
27 - Scott Levins, F Jets
32 - Brian Skrudland, F Flames
38 - Bill Lindsay, F Nordiques
40 - Andrei Lomakin, F Flyers
43 - Doug Barrault, F Stars
* Lost to Tampa Bay in Phase II several days later; full draft rundown here
That's an awful lot of eventual local legends up there, many of which became the core of Florida's 1996 Stanley Cup Final team. This draft - composed primarily of cast-offs, has-beens, and never-will-bes - set the stage for a very successful run and increased community goodwill throughout the 90s, thanks in large part to the leadership of Bill Torrey.
June 24th to July 2nd, 2011
Acquired via Trade:
Acquired via Free Agency:
Relinquished (via trade or free agency)
Of course it's not possible to peer into the future now any easier could have been done in June of 1993, but considering the sheer number of bodies involved in what has been a campaign to rid the organization of its renowned country club/retirement home atmosphere, this was a bold step forward.
So which period will go down as the more "pivotal" when history includes Tallon's efforts over the past week?