Twenty-six years. Sixteen coaches. Ten general managers, including Dale Tallon twice and one set of brothers, Bryan and Terry Murray.
There were five owners, not counting the group of eight investors briefly fronted by beloved Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar, who said hockey was his, “first and special love” before fading away to the bigger wallet of Alan Cohen.
Cohen faded away after four indifferent seasons, telling people he liked investing in horses more than hockey players because, “They don’t talk back.”
Cliff Viner bought the team. His tenure’s memory is of attempting a quiet divorce in Key West where his ex-wife’s relinquishing of any right to the Panthers became such a talk-story the team released a statement on it all.
Viner divorced the Panthers after three listless years.
Does this help any? Does it begin to explain why Friday mattered? Does it tell of the long and tortured treadmill the Panthers had been skating on for more than a quarter-century?
At 10:43 p.m. on Friday night, Carter Verhaeghe was again the cavalry, scoring in overtime as the Panthers beat Washington in a 4-3 thriller. That meant the Panthers won a playoff series. That’s no typo. They actually won a series. A ghost went poof.
“I’m not going to lie, it feels amazing,’’ said Aleksander Barkov, who is in his ninth Panthers season.
Dolphins fans bemoan not winning a playoff game since 2000. The Marlins haven’t won since 2003. That’s kids’ stuff compared to the Panthers and their 26 years between advancements in the playoffs.
Here’s one story: Pavel Bure led the league with 58 goals in 1999-2000, and was benched in a playoff series where the Panthers were swept by New Jersey. Benched.