Reporting Tim Kephart
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SUNRISE, Fla. (CBS4) – The Florida Panthers’ first playoff run in more than a decade is creating a buzz about hockey not seen in South Florida since rats were raining down on the ice in the 1990’s.
The Panthers announced that playoff tickets will go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster or the Panthers website at floridapanthers.com. Season ticket holders can already purchase their playoff tickets.
“We haven’t been there for 11 years,” said Michael Yormark, Panthers President and Cheif Operating Officer. “We want to make it affordable so that anyone who is interested in coming can enjoy it.”
While the Panthers and their fans are celebrating the playoff berth, there’s still plenty of work to be done on a team that has lost eight of their last nine games and have given up nine goals in their last two games.
“It’s been a long 10 years,” said Weiss, who has been with the Panthers since he was drafted No. 4 overall as a teenager in 2001. “You wonder if you’re doing the right thing. At the end of the day, it was worth staying.”
So how long has Weiss had to wait? He’s played 636 NHL games over ten years to get to his first Stanley Cup Playoffs trip. When the Panthers were last in the playoffs, gas was just $1.51 per gallon.
The team was constructed over the past two years under the tutelage of general manager Dale Tallon. Through a mixture of young talent and veteran leadership, Tallon constructed something South Florida hockey fans hadn’t seen since Bill Clinton was in office…a winner.
“I’m proud of players and staff for sticking with it. They gave hearts and soul to this. This came from within,” Tallon told the team’s website.
The team still has another goal left for their final game of the regular season against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“You wanna win your last game of the season. For your fans, going into the playoffs,” said Weiss. And for a Southeast Division banner? “For a title,” he said. “Sounds good.”
Fans are already heading out to buy their playoff shirts. Sixteen year old Jesse Pennebaker bought his Friday and wore it proudly.
“In the beginning of the season I was watching the draft,” he said. “I believed that they would make it all the way to the Stanley Cup.”