The return of the rats
Glory days have been few and far between for the Panthers in the past decade or so. But that doesn't mean the 14-year-old franchise is devoid of them.
The Panthers reach back into their past to celebrate their finest hour this weekend when they host a "Year of the Rat" alumni game at 2 p.m. Saturday at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise.
At least 19 members of the 1995-96 team that reached the Stanley Cup finals plus coach Doug MacLean have committed to participate.
Dave Lowry was the leading scorer on that Panthers team during their playoff run, followed by Ray Sheppard and Stu Barnes on what was a club essentially cobbled together with castoffs. Netminder John Vanbiesbrouck was the real star of the show, however, and he had to be with a defence core made up of: A 19-year-old Ed Jovanovski, Jason Woolley, Paul Laus, Robert Svehla, Terry Carkner and a 20-year-old Rhett Warrener.
The greybeard on the team was winger Mike Hough, followed by Brian Skrudland and Vanbiesbrouck. Martin Straka, Rob Niedermayer and Radek Dvorak were three other youngsters who chipped in.
But, of course, the man who started the Rat Pack was Scott Mellanby, who killed one of the rodents in the dressing room, somehow prompting some crazed fans to start chucking plastic ones on the ice whenever Florida scored.
Anyone else have good shots of rats raining down after a goal?
UPDATE Apparently they're selling plastic rats as part of this reunion tour.
If anyone in South Florida is planning on attending this game, I'll gladly swap some NHL merchandise (anyone want a greatest moments DVD?) for a rat or two and a signed Johan Garpenlov photo or Bill Lindsay bobblehead.