The Florida Panthers brought back some of their past as well as their future to unveil their new look moving forward.
With former captain Olli Jokinen and longtime winger Radek Dvorak joining current players such as Aaron Ekblad and Vincent Trocheck, the Panthers introduced their first real new jersey and logo combination since joining the NHL in 1993.
Florida’s new logo features a more natural looking panther in a shield inspired by the U.S. Army’s famed 101st Airborne crest.
The Panthers will also have secondary logos on the sleeves patterned after the Florida state flag.
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Florida’s home jerseys are predominantly red with a large white horizontal stripe highlighted in gold. The road white jerseys feature a large red stripe with gold piping.
“I love it,” Ekblad said. “I don’t think our guys would hold back if they didn’t like it, but in all honesty, we like the look. It’s cool to usher in a new era with the team we have, what’s in front of us, with a new look. We’ve been building and it’s an uphill battle.”
Said forward Shawn Thornton: “I think this is an upgrade, looks a little more traditional. And I like how the panther looks like a panther. I wasn’t a huge fan of the old logo and I may take some flak for that, but I like this. It’s simplified.’’
John Viola, the son of owner Vinnie, helped design the new logos and jerseys and will be in charge of Florida’s new third jersey which could arrive in time for the 2017-18 season.
Viola helped redesign and modernize Florida’s old ‘leaping cat’ logo and that logo will adorn helmets this season and could be the primary logo on future third jerseys.
“We wanted to say this is a more mature and stable franchise,” John Viola said. “As much as we loved the leaping cat, an expansion team has to show its claws, show you its teeth. A team like us, we’re only getting better, we can stand in the corner a little bit. You know we’re tough.”
▪ The Panthers also announced they will play the New Jersey Devils in a preseason game on Oct. 8 at the United States Military Academy in West Point.
The two teams will offer free admission to cadets and their family. The Panthers will likely spend a few days at West Point as they did in 2014.
“I’m honored to bring the Florida Panthers to West Point,” said Vinnie Viola, a West Point graduate.
“It’s going to be fantastic. Peter Luukko made it happen. We’re going to have the cadets, families, soldiers from all over. It’ll be 95 percent soldiers in the building. I’m very excited.”
This will be Florida’s fourth visit to the Military Academy (1995, 2007, 2014).
▪ Florida will have two new coaches join Gerard Gallant’s staff as former Buffalo assistant coach Dave Barr was hired Thursday.
The Panthers will also promote Scott Allen from their AHL affiliate. Allen took over as head coach of the Portland Pirates last season when Tom Rowe left for a front office job in Florida.