VANCOUVER — The Florida Panthers are in the Stanley Cup Final!
No, we didn’t just enter an alternate reality where a team that hasn’t qualified for the playoffs in a decade gets a chance to play for the most coveted trophy in the sport.
But the rosters of the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks, who start the 2011 Cup Final at Rogers Arena tomorrow night, are littered with players that once called Sunrise, Fla., home. In all, eight former Panthers have a chance to get their name on the Cup.
“It’s interesting to see the Panthers haven’t been in the playoffs in 10 years and now there’s at least eight of us that are in the Stanley Cup Final,” said Bruins center Gregory Campbell, who is joined on Boston’s roster by Dennis Seidenberg and Nathan Horton among Panthers alumni. “So it just goes to show you that we had a lot of good players down there. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out there. But fortunately for me it worked out in Boston.”
Over on the Vancouver side, the ex-Florida representation is even heavier with Keith Ballard, Tanner Glass, Chris Higgins, Victor Oreskovich and star goaltender Roberto Luongo all in the mix.
“There’s a few guys,” said Ballard. “There’s been a lot of changes in that organization year to year but there’s been a lot of good players. I don’t think it’s anything against Florida or what they’re doing, but it’s funny how it worked out with those two teams and so many of their players. There’s a few guys over there that I played with. [They're] good guys and up until this point it was nice to see them do well and have a shot at the playoffs. But after that, I hope we win.”
So Panthers die-hard fans have a rooting interest in this series, but there’s no telling how they’re going to decide which side to back.