Since entering the National Hockey League during the 1993-94 season, the Florida Panthers have found it tough to become the team in the spotlight in the State of Florida. For an area that rarely sees any snow, the State of Florida has been won over by the heavily talented Tampa Bay Lightning when it comes to who their favourite hockey team is. With seven other teams, eight if you include the Lightning, all playing in different parts of Florida throughout the year, the Panthers are doing whatever it takes to bring back the fan base that has been non-existent since the Pavel Bure days, as well as the championship buzz that came with John Vanbiesbrouck in between the pipes.
In his first season as the general manager of the Florida Panthers, Dale Tallon is trying to do whatever it takes to bring playoff hockey back to Florida and Panthers fans everywhere. With a large group of young, talented players, Tallon had plenty of free cap space available this past summer and didn’t waste time when it came to filling up the roster and spending the cash that was necessary. The man who practically built the Chicago Blackhawks into the Stanley Cup organization that they’ve become is now doing what it takes to turn his Panthers into a team with equal class and character. He understands how important it is as an organization to give back to those in need and that’s exactly what he did to get the team closer to each other and to the community around them.
For a team that has failed to taste the playoffs over the last 11 seasons, they have been doing something right during their years of misery and that’s lending a helping hand. Since 2003, the Florida Panthers Foundation has been working hard around South Florida, doing whatever it takes to help out those who are less fortunate. The non-profit organization focuses on fighting cancer and building a better future for children of the South Florida area. Through philanthropic partnership, grants, donations and community outreach programs, the Foundation maintains focus on children’s health, fitness, education and cultural needs. Over the years the team and Foundation have helped out by donating auction items such as game tickets, team signed jerseys and Zamboni rides to many organizations such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Broward County; American Cancer Society; Boys & Girls Club; Miami Disadvantaged Youth; Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital; Habitat for Humanity; the Children’s Cancer Fund; Make-A-Wish; Stellar Kids; the Andy Roddick Foundation and many, many more.
Last season the Foundation was able to raise a record of $130,000. This season, they are hoping to up the total and raise around $150,000 towards cancer relief. Since their Contract With The Community, the Florida Panthers Foundation has helped raise over $700,000 over the years and only plan on raising more money and awareness towards cancer relief. Through the Contract With The Community¸ the team has pledged to donate $1 million each season, raise awareness for children’s fitness and put hockey sticks in the hands of those who can’t afford them. They bring in players that they know will be a positive role model on the community and will always be there to lend a helping hand to whoever needs it in the city. They are going to look like a new team on the ice this season, and possibly for many more seasons to come, but off the ice they are still going to be the heroes that help around South Florida and do whatever they can to better everyone in the community. The faces may change over the years but the helping hands don’t.
To learn more about the Florida Panthers Foundation, visit http://panthers.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=37247