Breaking Down the New Duds: Part 4, The Panther Shield

The Panthers leap into the 21st century.

To see previous entries in this series: click here for Part 1 on the new Leaping Cat, click here for Part 2 on the new Cat and Flag shoulder logo, and click here for Part 3 on the Panthers new script.

I had been waiting for June 2, 2016 for three years.

When Mr. Viola and Mr. Cifu decided to take their talents to Sunrise I knew it was only a matter of time before the Florida Panthers would follow suit along with their NHL Sunbelt brethren in re-branding for a better future. For many of those who do not know, there was a major point of upheaval in the NHL following the lockout cancelled season in which many clubs, especially in the South, were facing hardships from unstable or incompetent ownership and management. The NHL began accepting new owners who were not only willing to turn their team's fortunes around but to keep their teams in the locations they were at, with the exception of the Atlanta Thrashers, who were forced to move to Winnipeg.

Within the last five years all of these logo changes occurred, and this is a trend that has dated back to the beginning of the post-cancelled season era. For myself, the Panthers needed a new symbol to signify that the days of miring in the hockey muck were over. That the Panthers franchise was looking up toward a better present. I believe the team has captured the spirit of this notion.

The Panther Shield

Symbolism & Analysis

Military Influence

The Panthers logo's inspiration comes from the insignia of the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army.

Panthers owner Vinnie Viola was a former member of the 101st Airborne Division and he wanted to institute the values that he learned from his military experience to the Florida Panthers.

It is also worth noting that the 101st Airborne's nickname is the "Screaming Eagles." The Screaming Eagles moniker has a South Florida connection in that it was the name of the World Hockey Association franchise that was to play in Miami in 1972 before ownership and arena issues forced the team to move to Philadelphia to become the Blazers before a game was even played.

The inspiration from military symbols is not uncommon in sports. In the NHL, the current Winnipeg Jets are using a logo inspired by insignia of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Shield Shape

There has been criticism of the Panthers' choice to use a shield shape. Many use the reasoning that shields are found most often on a soccer jersey rather than a hockey jersey. I find that argument a little tenuous. Heraldic symbols such as coat of arms, shields, and state symbols have been used by sports franchises for a long time. In Europe, the heraldic symbols of past and present governing institutions have greatly influenced the people there, so it is natural that many of their sports clubs would find influence in those symbols to develop their brands. Soccer happens to be the most popular sport there so it is natural to find the shield shape often in that sport.

The influences of European heraldry have made their way over to the United States since colonization. The United States and its various military groups and administrative agencies have been using symbols to denote rank, places, and organizations. The Panthers have decided to bear their new logo with a shield and that seems perfectly fine by me. It at least breaks up the monotony of the circle logo that is boring up baseball and basketball right now.

Besides, it's not like shields are uncommon in hockey. Heck, the National Hockey League's logo has been a shield since its inception. Think about what a shield means. It is a piece of metal used to protect one's self from attackers. Shields are used to deflect oncoming fire. What a perfect symbol for a hockey jersey.

Even our own Aleksander Barkov has sported a shield design.

The Panther

Comparison of real Florida panthers with the logo.

The logo does look like a Florida panther when placed in a side-by-side comparison. Many critics begin to point out that the Panther does not look like a ferocious big cat like a lion or tiger. Well, they are right, but maybe not for the reason they expect. A Florida panther is a subspecies of a puma concolor, a group of cats known by a variety of names such as puma, cougar, catamount, mountain lion, and, of course, panther. A big cat is a group of cats that encompasses lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars (black panthers are actually jaguars or leopards depending on the geographic location). Big cats are distinguished from other cats by their bones especially their skull shapes which tend to be much bigger, and these bones allow their vocaloids to do what a Florida panther cannot; roar.

The design of the new logo already resolves all of the problems the original Leaping Cat logo had when it was the primary logo. The new logo simplifies the panther's facial features by using the shadows as a way to hide features and show features that make you believe all the details are there. The whiskers are not to be seen but the shadowing of three lines on the cat's face still signify that they are there.

Finally the new logo has already shown signs that it is being reproduced faithfully on different mediums.

Details on eyes, teeth, claws, and lower half of body turned out badly for Leaping Cat. Cat Shield in comparison has a near perfect re-creation.


The only thing that unifies all of the crests the Panthers have used is the fact that there is a Florida panther. The original Leaping Cat had an alternative variant which included the panther breaking a stick with its claws. The alternate powder blue logo was a circle logo with "Florida Panthers" text within the roundel and a stylized version of the original logo's panther face. The new logo retains the red eyes of the Panther from the original logo.

Final Take

I am really happy with this change but I know that many Panthers diehards are wrought with emotions over this. I understand wholeheartedly, but I will address those feelings at a later time. For now, please appreciate the quality of work done here. The design is not bad. It is not shoddy. It is not flawed. If you dislike the fact that it was changed, there is no stopping that. But, what has been produced falls right in line with other NHL logos.

I also believe that this new logo offers great flexibility in terms of marketing. The shield and text above seem to allow for interchangeability to place anything one wants within it.

They could use it to promote their players.

They could use it to create a Hispanic heritage night and be the first team in NHL history to have Spanish on their uniforms.

In the next installment of the Panthers re-brand breakdown, we take a look at the new uniforms.

P.S. I called it back in 2014.