The NHL has the weirdest group of haters in any professional sport. These haters tend to be from the northern United States but it seems the most vocal come from Canada (they are not as polite as you may think). This group of haters believe that hockey does not belong in South Florida, or anywhere below the Mason-Dixon line because the people in the southern United States do not get as much cold weather. I have explained this to people who are just getting into hockey and the Panthers, and they literally laugh as to the silliness. (you can read more about this in my Sunbelt series here and here). The Florida Panthers original shoulder logo was the ultimate offense to these haters and it truly was a beloved symbol by the Cats faithful.
The crossed hockey stick and palm tree over the Sun adorned the Panthers' shoulders in almost every uniform they had. I loved the amount of disdain the northern elite had for stick and tree, like it was trolling them since 1993. The original shoulder logo is also the only logo that did not carry on in some form on the Panthers re-brand which I myself am saddened about. Luckily for myself and for many Cats fans the team has come back with a new shoulder logo that is just as Floridian, just as amazing, and just as offensive to the northern elite as the beloved original shoulder logo.
Here we get a taste of the military themes that Mr. Viola wanted to incorporate into the Panthers brand. The arched tabs above the cat and flag will be used as a means to give the players honor. The tabs will be bestowed upon the player's uniform once he accomplishes making the team. An "alternate" and "captain" tab will be added above once the player gains those ranks.
The prowling cat sits above a stylized state flag with a sun in the middle. This part of the logo is steeped in Floridia history. The Florida panther is the state animal, Florida is known as "The Sunshine State", and the Florida flag is self-explanatory.
The Florida flag's current design dates back to 1900.
And one can even say the flag design harkens back to Florida's time under Spanish rule as shown below with the Burgundian Saltire from 1565.
Let us start out with the tabs. On the red home uniform the tabs will say "Florida" and "Panthers" on the white road uniforms. This has been done before by the Boston Bruins with their current uniforms sporting a bear with "Bruins" above it and "Boston" below it.
with "Boston" above and "Bruins" below on the road.
The use of a captain's "C" or the alternate "A" on the left chest is a staple of hockey and it looks like the Panthers will continue to abide by NHL rules and have those. But the Cats also see fit to adorn the team captains with patches on their shoulders. This has been done before. In 2013-14 the Buffalo Sabres introduced a much maligned yellow third jersey into their repertoire. However, the Sabres had a unique twist that actually looked pretty cool in that they removed the "C" and "A" and added patches on the shoulders.
In the shot above one can also see the Flames jersey which contains the flags of Canada and Alberta on their shoulders, so the Florida flag is not doing something unprecedented on that front. What is unique to me and a nice touch that brings things all together is the prowling panther on top of the flag. It almost evokes vibes of the Jaguars original uniforms and their side logo.
There are two versions of the logo so that the panther faces forward on both sides. I for one like this as it annoys me how some teams do not do this with their logo.
The panther facing forward also may have a military influence as the United States flag when placed on a uniform must always face forward with the stars part in the front. If the flag is on the right sleeve then the flag will appear backwards to people normally but this is the way it is supposed to be. The reason for this is that it simulates the flag charging into battle rather than retreating.
The Florida flag within the logo has a navy circle with a gold sun within it rather than the Great Seal of the State of Florida so the logo is not a complete copy of the Florida flag. This is understandable as the state seal is too intricate to place within the small space of the logo.
The only unifying things among the three shoulder logos in team history is the Sun and the shade of navy blue. The powder blue uniform's shoulder logo had text like the new shoulder logo.
The new shoulder logo is pretty refreshing and its use as a means of bestowing honors to players is a pretty cool idea. The stick and tree will be missed but something tells me the team was trying to save it in some way judging by the patches they gave to the first 1,000 people to pre-order a new jersey.
In the next part of the series, we take a look at the new Panthers script.