The Florida Panthers came close to advancing to the second round. They battled into the second overtime period of Game 7, but their season ended on Thursday – or technically early Friday if you are in the Eastern Time Zone – all the same.
“It stings. It stings to lose at home,” Florida’s Stephen Weiss said. “But we’ve got some bright years ahead. We’ve got some kids coming up that are pretty darn good players. So it’ll be a fun summer training, and we’ll try to do it all over again next year.”
What Weiss said is true. The Coyotes might not be regarded as a rebuilding team because Panthers GM Dale Tallon was so aggressive in the 2011 free agent market, but they have a great farm system.
“A successful season is right, a winning season,” Tallon said. “Regardless if we hadn’t gone in the playoffs, we went up 22 points over last year. And you look at my record, we want to get better every year and we exceeded expectations this year. But it doesn’t surprise me knowing the character of these players that we brought in. They really care.”
Florida also has a healthy amount of cap space going into the summer, so Tallon has some flexibility moving forward. It took the Panthers over a decade to get back to the playoffs. They shouldn’t have to wait that long again.