Disappointing to a different level: Why this Panthers exit is different

The Florida Panthers season barely lasted more than 10 minutes, and Jonathan Hubardio is already on his case, ready to leave Tampa and return to South Florida, ending a unique disappointment.

Each of his nine seasons with the Panthers has ended similarly. At six, Florida didn’t play at all. In the other three, the Panthers were made before the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Florida’s latest anticipated exit, a 4-2 series loss to Tampa Bay Lighting in the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, qualifies as a comparative success compared to most of the organization’s history and especially with the departure of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs a year. behind.

Losing four games in the qualifying round of the Cup extended playoffs was self-discovery and a ruthlessly honest exit meeting, the expulsion of the longtime general manager, and the persuasion to end a major roster overhaul.

The result was another first-round outing, but for the Panthers it could qualify as one of the best seasons in franchise history.

“I was very disappointed with the end of last year,” Panthers coach Joel Coenville said Wednesday. This is frustrating on different levels.

Unlike last season and most seasons in the organization’s history, the 2020-21 Florida NHL season felt like a missed opportunity. The Panthers were the true Stanley Cup contenders after finishing second in the entire Central Division in India and finishing with the league’s fourth-highest points. They were seeded higher than defending champion Lightning and, for the most part, outscored their state rivals in six games of the first-round series.

Florida seemed to finish early for most of the season, yet the team believed it could run deeper and had real reason to believe it could fight hard for a cup for the first time since reaching the Stanley Cup final. in 1996 in the third season. existence of equipment.

Instead, they have yet to win a play-off series since 1996.

It was a great season for us. “We were having a lot of fun,” Star Center Alexander Barkov said Wednesday. We enjoy playing together, but it’s hard to say anything at the moment. I do not know what to say. I’m disappointed.

The regular season was probably the best in Panthers history. They set a franchise record for point percentage and, despite the short season, tied the franchise record for goal difference. Barkov, Quinville and general manager Bill Zeto could be finalists for the NHL award next week for their role in transforming Florida into one of the best teams in the league.

Quinville said he feels the Panthers are in a much better place than they are now when the 2012-2019 NHL season ended with a loss in the Extended Cup play-off playoffs.

It’s one of those years where expectations were probably not high. Internally, I think they grew towards the end of the season and I think it’s a healthy thing, Quinville said. You cannot be satisfied with the progress we have made, which has been significant this year. Let’s keep thinking that this is the speed at which we want to improve.

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