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Panthers founder Wayne Huizenga passes at 80 years old

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NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

News from the family of H. Wayne Huizenga has confirmed that he has passed away at the age of 80. Huizenga is a massive figure in South Florida sports history having owned the Miami Dolphins; founding the Florida Marlins; and founding the Florida Panthers.

Huizenga’s ownership of the Panthers began in the winter of 1992 when he was awarded the franchise in the great expansion of the NHL into the southern United States. In less than a year, Wayne Huizenga was able to put together a team led by team president Bill Torrey that cobbled together a fully functioning hockey club by October 1993.

Huizenga’s ownership lasted from 1993 to 2001 but in that timeframe he was able to accomplish a lot. Many of these accomplishements are the very reason the Panthers remain in South Florida.

  • The Panthers’ expansion club in 1993-94 had the most successful inaugural campaign of any NHL expansion team until the Vegas Golden Knights came along in 2017.
  • In 1995-96 the Florida Panthers won the Eastern Conference championship to compete for the Stanley Cup in only its 3rd season. The Panthers have only made the postseason 5 times in its history, 3 of those were under the Huizenga regime.
  • In 1998-99, the Florida Panthers moved out of the Miami Arena into what is now the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.
  • In 2017-18 the Florida Panthers retired number 37, Wayne Huizenga’s favorite number, as appareciation for all he has done for the franchise.

Huizenga would also amass a World Series championship with the Marlins in the timeframe that he owned 3 franchises. Panthers fans will be forever grateful to him and we here at Litter Box Cats wish his family well.