SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers are ready to start a new season and will do so under new ownership.

Friday, the Panthers will announce Vincent Viola as the team’s new owner. Viola will pay around $250 million for the Panthers franchise and will replace Cliff Viner, who became a co-general partner of the team in 2009 and took over as general partner, chairman, and CEO the next season.

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Viola currently serves as the chairman and CEO of Virtu Financial, an electronic trading firm. Viola is a West Point graduate and was a major in the U.S. Army Reserves. He also served as a chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and built a center devoted to combating terrorism.

Viola has to hope his business success will help build a winner in Sunrise. The Panthers have been to the playoffs only once since 2000 and finished with the fewest points in the NHL last season.

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Completing the sale will have an immediate effect on the on-ice product, at least in one respect. The move clears the way for the team to complete the signing of two-time Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas, a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender who took last season off before deciding that he wanted to return.

Thomas has been with the Panthers on a tryout deal, and it was believed that the team was waiting for the ownership change to be completed before wrapping up his signing.

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In other Panthers news, the team announced Thursday that it had hired John Madden as a pro scout. Madden is a 13-year-veteran of the NHL and won three Stanley Cup titles during his career. Madden was most recently on the Montreal Canadiens’ scouting staff.