SUNRISE, Fla – The Cycle of years of futility on and off the ice in South Florida may have finally been broken this week when the National Hockey League announced the approval of the sale of the Florida Panthers to New York businessman Vincent Viola and Doug Cifu as noted in the approval by the NHL Board of Governors.
The price tag for the club was reported at US$250 million. At nearly the same time, the Panthers also announced the signing of goalie Tim Thomas who returns to the crease after hiatus away from the game.
“Tim is a proven winner who we are pleased to have signed,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was quoted saying on CBC.com. “He is a fierce competitor who brings to our club a wealth of experience including a Stanley Cup Championship, two Vezina trophies and a Conn Smythe. He is a hardworking, driven and dedicated individual who will help our club achieve future success.”
As for Viola, he was raised in Brooklyn, NJ and graduated from West Point. He is a former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Thomas has been with the Panthers on a tryout deal, and it was believed that the team was waiting for the ownership change to be completed before wrapping up his signing.
Now the transition in ownership needs to accelerate and get the franchise prepared for the regular season. The addition of Thomas in goal will make for some interesting moves as the Panthers will need to send someone down to the AHL affiliate. Jacob Markstrom has been tagged as an up and coming star and Scott Clemmensen is also on the pre-season roster.
“We want the best goalies,” Tallon said. “Inner competition is great for the success of a team. Let them battle it out.”
Thomas and Viola change the dynamics for the Panthers on and off the ice respectively. It will be interesting to see the response of the team to the moves as well as the fans.