The thing that got me into watching sports as a little kid was the uniforms and the different looks that teams would wear. I think that’s the same for a lot of young kids too. They don’t know the sport like an adult does but the look of a team is what catches a child’s eye. To me, hockey always had the most creative and eye catching uniforms out of all the professional sports. You can do so much with a hockey uniform that you cannot do with other sports; from colors and striping to logos, the possibilities are endless. With that in mind, I’ve decided to take a look at the jersey history of my favorite team; the Florida Panthers. Let’s begin, shall we?
The Florida Panthers hit the ice with these uniforms in 1993 and honestly they really don’t get any better than this. The colors are very indicative of south Florida with the warm reds and yellows contrasted with the cool blue. To me that always represented the warmth and heat of the area and the beaches of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. The slanted striping on the arms were unique and stood out on the ice and the logos are not only the best in franchise history, but some of the best in all of the NHL. The secondary logo of the sun with the crossing stick and palm tree perfectly represent hockey in the sunshine state. I have always loved this logo and I am so glad it made a comeback as the teams helmet logo within the last few years. The creme de la creme of course is the leaping cat logo. Menacing, yet cool; this logo showed that Florida wasn’t playing around and was here to win. It showed that we weren’t all sunshine and beaches, but that south Florida had an edge to it; which if you’ve ever lived in either Miami or Ft. Lauderdale you know is true. The only logo that was better is when they added the broken stick. I and many other Panthers fans love this uniform and look back on it fondly. I’m waiting for it to make a comeback as an alternate uniform. I think it’ll still be a few years until it happens, but I do see it making it’s long awaited return.
In 1998 the Panthers introduced their first alternate uniform. While I don’t mind this jersey; I was never a huge fan of blue as the predominate color. I know yellow wasn’t a better choice of main color, but there is something about the blue that didn’t show that the team was from Florida as much as the red jerseys. I am apparently in the minority because people liked this uniform so much it became the main home jersey; swapping roles with the red jersey from 2003-2007. People are calling for a third blue uniform for the current Panthers uniform and while it’d be a nice call back to the teams history, I’d prefer a straight red throwback.
In 2007 the Reebok Edge jerseys were introduced and these are easily some of my least favorite uniforms for the Cats; especially this blue one. The red going from shoulder to sleeves looks weird and the yellow piping on the front of the jersey is unnecessary. These uniforms just took all originality from the Panthers inaugural uniform.
Along with the blue home uniform this white uniform was rolled out with the change to the Reebok Edge jersey. This jersey is only slightly better due in part to the fact we don’t have the random piping on the front of the jersey. Still nothing great here.
This is the ugliest uniform the Panthers have ever worn. All of the red is gone and there is only a tiny bit of yellow in the secondary logo. How does blue relates to panthers or south Florida? I could understand if the team was something like the sharks or manatees or some other native animal found in the water, but it’s not. The main logo here isn’t bad and it’s almost a prototype to what we have now, but it’s not as good as the leaping cat. The secondary logo is also inferior. The palm tree and stick crossing each other perfectly symbolized hockey coming to, at the time, Miami. This was such a misstep and it managed to stick around for three seasons somehow.
In 2011, the Panthers were smart enough to trade their blue home uniform for the traditional red. It still kept the Reebok Edge design, but thankfully got rid of the yellow piping on the front. Otherwise this is still just an inferior version of the original uniform.
When the Florida Panthers first unveiled these uniforms, I thought they were even worse than the Reebok Edge uniforms. However, they have really grown on me. I got back into hockey, after losing interest in my teen years, a couple seasons after these first hit the ice. I couldn’t believe I had ever lost interest in this sport and through that renewed interest I became more accustomed to these uniforms and grew to appreciate them for what they are; a modern hockey take on a very ’90’s uniform. The team went back to their original colors, but at the same time went to a deeper red and blue and gold instead of yellow. This helps to what some may have called tacky of the original uniform. The striping is more traditional which is what we are seeing a lot of teams do in the current NHL landscape. Then of course there is the logo; I despised this logo originally and it still doesn’t beat the leaping cat, but now knowing the reasoning behind it I like it a little more. Vincent Viola, U.S. Army veteran and owner of the Florida Panthers, used the 101st Airborne Divisions screaming eagle logo as the inspiration of this logo. I like how it honors the military and how Viola wants to show that honor and respect to the troops. It still looks a bit like a soccer club logo, but I don’t hate it anymore. They also added the state flag and a side profile of a panther to the sleeves to emulate the patches you would see on a military uniform which is nice, but still not as good as the sun, tree, stick combo. Hopefully we’ll get a throwback to join these uniforms in the near future.
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