The Florida Panthers’ short history in the NHL has seen them rise as high as the Stanley Cup finals in 1996 and as low as… Well as low as their payroll was before buying everyone this summer. Their sweater history is short as well and not all that different. Of course, with the team going from red to blue and now back to red next season, there’s some highlights and lowlights to be had.
Best: I know I’ve been playing favorites with original sweaters so far through these team-by-team pieces, but the Panthers original red road jersey is a thing of beauty. While the team wasn’t always lighting up the scoreboard, they looked striking with the roaring, leaping panther on the front, the pointed shoulder yoke, and the funky secondary logo on the shoulders. The crisscrossed palm tree with a hockey stick is still one of my favorite regional nods for a second logo. The red was bold, the blue was navy striking, and the white and yellow highlights in it were perfect.
Worst: For everything the original jersey did right, the Panthers’ most recent light blue third sweater did wrong. The derivative circular logo to make it look old school, the robotic looking panther in the middle of the crest made it look like something more befitting an automobile logo, and the out-of-nowhere use of baby blue made the whole thing boring. Making it look even dumber was the secondary logo on the shoulders with “FLA” in block letters with the sun behind it. Yawn city. This sweater is the visual representation on why comedians call Florida “God’s waiting room.”
Correcting a mistake: Back in 2003, the Panthers decided to turn everything in their home uniforms navy blue opting to eliminate red from their look. Bad idea. Not only were the Panthers not winning on the ice they weren’t even looking special and standing out above the crowd. The team is switching back to a red home uniform this season as part of their marketing campaign that “We See Red.” It might be an ad wizard sort of thing to do, but paying respect to the only successful part of your past makes a load of sense.
Assessment: We’ll see how the new red uniforms play out for the Panthers next season, but it’s got to be better than their over-reliance on blue that they went to the last two seasons. Going from navy blue to sky blue and bland only made the team look like how they played: Like crap. Here’s to hoping that Dale Tallon’s wild spending ways help make their switch back to red look fearsome for opponents on the ice.