If you’re a hockey fan in Florida, or just curious about this southern state’s presence in the NHL, you’ll want to keep reading. Whether you’re visiting Florida or living there full-time, knowing how many teams are situated in this region can add new dimensions of excitement to your fandom.
Florida is known for its sunny beaches, warm weather, and theme parks, but it’s also home to two unique NHL franchises: the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. Both teams have avid followings and interesting histories that make them worth exploring.
“The Tampa Bay Lightning were founded in 1992 and quickly became one of the most successful expansion teams in league history, winning their first Stanley Cup Championship in 2004. The Florida Panthers joined the league in 1993 and are the only major professional sports team based in Fort Lauderdale.”
If you’re planning on watching a game while in Florida, catching a match between these two rival teams will provide a lively atmosphere and showcase some of the top talent in the sport. But before you grab your tickets, discover further details about Florida’s NHL scene here.
We’ll explore each team’s performance over the years, players to watch out for, and form an understanding of what makes this part of the country so special when it comes to ice hockey. So sit back, relax and enjoy as we dive into everything related to the NHL teams in Florida.
The History of NHL in Florida
The Beginning of NHL in Florida
Florida has become a popular destination for hockey players and fans alike, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, the NHL didn’t have any teams in Florida until 1992 when they awarded two expansion franchises to the Sunshine State.
It all started in the early ’90s with Wayne Huizenga, who was the owner of Blockbuster Entertainment at the time. He had expressed interest in bringing an NHL team to South Florida and eventually, he was granted the franchise.
“We’ve got our pick from some very good young stars,” said Bill Torrey, the Panthers’ founding president.
Florida’s First NHL Team: The Panthers
The Florida Panthers were the first NHL team based in Florida, joining the league alongside the Anaheim Ducks in the 1993-94 season as part of a ten-team expansion.
Their home rink is the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, which opened its doors in 1998. The arena has gone through a series of name changes over the years, originally known as the National Car Rental Center before becoming the BankAtlantic Center and the BB&T Center today.
Despite being a relatively new team, the Panthers quickly made their mark on the league. In just their third year of existence, they reached the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Colorado Avalanche in four games.
The Arrival of the Tampa Bay Lightning
In addition to the Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning also joined the NHL in the 1992 expansion. They played their inaugural season a year later, and like the Panthers, quickly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the ice.
The Lightning play their home games at Amalie Arena in Tampa, which opened in 1996 as the Ice Palace. It too has gone through a few name changes over the years, known at times as the St. Pete Times Forum and the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The Lightning have had several successful seasons, including making it to the Stanley Cup Final four times since joining the league. They won their first championship in the 2003-04 season, defeating the Calgary Flames in seven games.
The Growth of NHL in Florida
Since the arrival of the Panthers and the Lightning, hockey has become increasingly popular in Florida. In 2015, the state hosted its first ever outdoor hockey game when the Lightning faced off against the Panthers at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
In addition to bringing fans together for exciting games on the ice, both teams are also actively involved in their local communities through various outreach programs and charitable initiatives.
Today, Florida is one of only two states outside of traditional hockey markets like Canada and the northern United States to have more than one team in the NHL. The growth of hockey in Florida shows no signs of slowing down, with both the Panthers and the Lightning continuing to attract new fans from all walks of life.
“Owners who would never dream of setting an expansion team here, players who would rather spend two months below the ice floating with penguins, broadcasters who couldn’t find the beaches if they landed among them: All will learn about South Florida soon enough.”
Florida Panthers: The First NHL Team in Florida
The National Hockey League (NHL) has long been popular in Canada and northern parts of the United States. However, it wasn’t until 1993 that a professional hockey team came to Florida. The Florida Panthers were an expansion team, meaning they were created specifically for the state.
The Birth of the Panthers
In 1991, Wayne Huizenga, a successful businessman, had a vision of bringing professional sports teams to south Florida. He started by securing an MLB baseball franchise – the Florida Marlins. Then, he set his sights on creating an NHL team. After being approved by the NHL as an expansion team in 1992, the Florida Panthers played their first game on October 6th, 1993 against the Chicago Blackhawks at Miami Arena.
Key Players and Moments in Panthers History
The Florida Panthers have had several key players throughout their history. One notable player is Pavel Bure, who joined the team in 1999 and quickly became one of the most prolific goal scorers in the league. Other notables include Roberto Luongo, Ed Jovanovski, and Scott Mellanby. Perhaps the biggest moment in Panthers history was in 1996 when they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals but ultimately lost to the Colorado Avalanche in four games.
The Panthers’ Impact on Florida’s Hockey Culture
The Florida Panthers paved the way for additional NHL teams in non-traditional hockey markets. In fact, after the success of the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, other southern states like Arizona, Georgia, and Texas received their own NHL teams. Additionally, the Panthers gave Floridians a chance to experience professional hockey up close and personal without having to travel to another state.
The Future of the Panthers
As of 2021, the Florida Panthers are an up-and-coming team in the NHL. They have made it to the playoffs several times in recent years but have yet to make a deep run. Nevertheless, with a talented roster and strong leadership in place, the future looks bright for the Panthers.
“I know hockey isn’t native to South Florida… but you can’t argue that it hasn’t worked out well.” -Roberto Luongo
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Second NHL Team in Florida
Florida is home to two National Hockey League (NHL) teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Florida Panthers. The creation of the Tampa Bay Lightning team was a defining moment for ice hockey fans all over the state.
The Creation of the Lightning
In 1986, Phil Esposito, the former Boston Bruins center, became interested in bringing an NHL team to the Tampa Bay area. With help from Japanese investors, he successfully submitted his bid for an expansion team that would become known as the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 6th, 1990.
The team played its first game in October 1992 against the Chicago Blackhawks at Expo Hall in Tampa, Florida. Though they lost their first season debut, the team went on to end their Inaugural Season with a respectable record of 23-54-7.
Memorable Moments in Lightning History
“We’re going to win the Stanley Cup, and I’m going to be there to present it to the owner.” – John Tortorella
One of the most notable moments in Tampa Bay Lightning’s history includes winning the prestigious Stanley Cup championship for the first time in the franchise’s history during the 2003-04 season. Head coach John Tortorella famously exclaimed, “We’re going to win the Stanley Cup, and I’m going to be there to present it to the owner.” He kept his promise after leading the team to victory, with Vincent Lecavalier earning the Conn Smythe Trophy for being the MVP of the playoffs.
The Lightning ultimately made a return to the Stanley Cup finals in the 2014-15 season but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
The Lightning’s Role in Florida’s Hockey Community
When Esposito first brought the team to Tampa Bay, he aimed for it to become a focal point of the community. As such, the franchise has made significant efforts to support local youth hockey development throughout the years.
In 2018, the Tampa Bay Mutiny was formed, which provides opportunities for young athletes who wouldn’t otherwise have access to ice rinks or equipment to develop their skills and play the sport they love. The organization teamed up with the NHL’s “Hockey Is For Everyone” initiative to promote diversity and inclusivity within the sport as well.
- The Lightning Foundation: Supports non-profits throughout the region through fundraising drives and in-game charitable auctions.
- Bolts Better Halves: Comprised of the wives and girlfriends of Lightning players who work tirelessly on various charitable projects around the city.
- Anthem Buddies Program: Gives young Thunderbug fans the opportunity to stand with the Bolts during the national anthem alongside their favorite player.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s immense popularity among Floridians can partly be attributed to their accomplishments, but perhaps even more so because of their dedication to bringing joy into the lives of those around them. They continue to be an integral part of the state’s hockey community, providing opportunities for growth both on and off the ice.
Why NHL Teams Chose Florida?
The Appeal of Florida’s Climate
One reason why NHL teams chose Florida is the state’s warm and sunny climate. While other cities in North America suffer from harsh winters, playing in warm weather all year round can be very appealing to hockey players. The sun shines more than 300 days a year in most parts of Florida including Tampa Bay.
In addition, players on NHL teams based in Florida don’t have to worry about snow, ice, or sub-zero conditions obstructing their games. Playing in frozen arenas with limited visibility due to falling or drifting snow is not enjoyable for anyone, so being able to play in comfortable temperatures is definitely an advantage.
“The players know they can go out every day for a jog in the sun,” said Doug Bennett, president of the Panthers Foundation. “There are no issues with bad weather or anything like that.”
Expanding the NHL’s Audience
Another reason why NHL teams chose Florida was to expand the league’s audience beyond its traditional markets. By setting up franchises in non-traditional hockey areas, the NHL hoped to attract new fans who were previously unfamiliar with the sport. This marketing strategy has been quite successful, as both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers have strong fan bases despite being located in states where hockey isn’t typically popular.
Florida is known as a tourist hot spot attracting people from around the globe each year. As such, these NHL teams had the potential to reach international audiences through tourists attending games while vacationing there. Many hockey-loving Canadians flock to Florida during winter months which means these games will draw more fans from colder regions north of the border.
“When you look at any business, especially one that relies upon ticket sales like we do, wouldn’t you go to a saturated market or an untapped one?” said Steve Yzerman, former general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. “It just made sense.”
While it may have been risky to set up NHL teams in non-traditional markets like Florida, this strategy has paid off as both teams are competitive on and off the ice. The appeal of Florida’s climate combined with efforts to expand the sport into new territories has helped solidify the league’s foothold in the southern United States.
What are the NHL Team Locations in Florida?
If you’re a fan of the National Hockey League (NHL), chances are you’ve heard of the two Florida-based teams: the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. These teams have brought immense joy and excitement to fans living in the state for many years.
The Panthers’ Home Arena
The Florida Panthers were founded in 1993, becoming the 22nd team added to the league. They have their home base at the BB&T Center, located in Sunrise, Florida. This arena has served as the Panthers’ main venue since its opening in 1998. The BB&T center can seat up to approximately 20,000 spectators during Panther games.
Apart from being a hockey arena, the BB&T also hosts other events like concerts, wrestling matches, and more. Its location is ideal as it sits near several highways in South Florida, making it easy for fans to drive in and out of the arena. Plus, it’s only about 25 minutes far from downtown Miami.
“The BB&T Center’s convenient location near several major highways allows our guests to travel efficiently, while ensuring that thousands of locals can watch live NHL games without having to travel too far away.” -Florida Panthers Representative
The Lightning’s Home Arena
Tampa Bay was awarded an expansion team in 1990. Currently competing under the name “Tampa Bay Lightning,” the team has been based at the Amalie Arena since 1996. Located right in the heart of Downtown Tampa, this arena has a seating capacity of close to 21,500 people.
Besides hosting regular-season games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Amalie Arena is also popular for hosting playoff games along with concerts, Ice shows, monster truck rallies and basketball games.
Inside the arena, there is a massive sampling of food genres, from classic burgers to ling since the premises have multiple intriguing restaurants that offer great meals throughout the year.
“Located in the heart of Tampa Bay, Amalie Arena serves as an epicenter of entertainment for people living in Florida and across the country. We are proud to call it home.” -Tampa Bay Lightning Representative
The Future of NHL Expansion in Florida?
With two NHL teams already located in Florida, there’s always speculation about whether more ice hockey clubs will set up shop in the state. However, there has been no confirmation yet regarding any future expansion.
But what makes Florida such a hotbed for NHL action? Many fans speculate that several factors contribute to this, including the excellent weather (no snow/ice to deal with during outdoor events), numerous hotels available to accommodate visitors, and the well-developed logistics infrastructure that ensures easy transportation.
Only time will tell if other NHL teams plan to set their sights on Florida locations for possible expansions.
Current NHL Teams’ Roster and Stats in Florida
Florida, known for its tropical weather and beaches, is also home to two National Hockey League (NHL) teams: the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Both teams belong to the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
Florida Panthers’ Roster and Stats
The Florida Panthers franchise was established in 1993 and has been playing home games at the BB&T Center located in Sunrise since 1998. The team boasts a mix of talented young players and seasoned veterans who have helped lead them to playoff appearances in recent years.
- Current record: 10-2-2
- Leading scorer: Jonathan Huberdeau with 22 points
- Starting goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky with a.908 save percentage
- Captain: Aleksander Barkov
The Panthers are off to a strong start this season, currently sitting at second place in their division. Fans are hopeful that they can continue their success and make a deep run in the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Lightning’s Roster and Stats
The Tampa Bay Lightning were founded in 1992 and play their home games at Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa. The team has a reputation for being one of the top contenders in the league and have consistently made it deep into the playoffs over the past few seasons.
- Current record: 11-4-1
- Leading scorer: Victor Hedman with 15 points
- Starting goaltender: Andrei Vasilevskiy with a.926 save percentage
- Captain: Steven Stamkos
The Lightning have had a strong start to this year’s season, currently sitting at the top of their division. Fans are eager to see if they can continue their dominant performance and make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
“The Tampa Bay Lightning has been one of the most consistent teams in the league over recent years, with many considering them as favorites to win the championship.” -NHL analyst
Florida may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about hockey, but the state is making its mark on the NHL scene with two successful franchises. Panthers and Lightning fans alike are excited to see what the future holds for their beloved teams.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many NHL teams are located in Florida?
There are two NHL teams located in Florida: the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
What are the names of the NHL teams in Florida?
The names of the NHL teams in Florida are the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
When were the NHL teams in Florida established?
The Florida Panthers were established in 1993 and the Tampa Bay Lightning were established in 1992.
What are the home arenas of the NHL teams in Florida?
The Florida Panthers play at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida and the Tampa Bay Lightning play at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
What is the history of NHL teams in Florida?
The history of NHL teams in Florida began in 1992 with the establishment of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Florida Panthers followed in 1993. Both teams have had their ups and downs, with the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 and the Panthers making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996. The teams continue to represent the state of Florida in the NHL today.