Legacies cemented after Panthers win Stanley Cup

Florida’s Game 7 Stanley Cup Final win will be remembered forever.


It was a truly historic day in Panthers history as the franchise took home its first Cup in their 30 years of existence.


The win was the first Cup for all but two players (Vladimir Tarasenko, Carter Verhaeghe) and it cemented the legacies of many within the Panthers organization. 


Aleksander Barkov became the first captain from Finland to win the Stanley Cup, 17-year NHL veteran Kyle Okposo finally attained hockey’s greatest prize, Oliver Ekman-Larsson became a champion just a year after being one of the largest buyouts in NHL history, Dmitry Kulikov returns to win where he was drafted 15 years before — the storylines were plentiful. 


 Now that they’ve finished the job, a few Panthers should expect to see their name among hockey’s greatest sometime in the near future.


 Bobrovsky, you’re on the Cup


35-year-old Sergei Bobrovsky had nearly everything you could ask for as a goaltender. Over his 14-year NHL career, the Russian native had been a first team All-Star twice, an NHL All-Star three times, a two-time Vezina winner, is 14th all-time in wins — and has the most by a Russian — holds three World Championship medals and was an olympian.


The one achievement that was missing from his Hall of Fame resume was a Stanley Cup — now he has it. 



“It means a lot, it’s a dream come true,” Bobrovsky told TSN after winning the Cup . “I’m so happy to be here. It’s an amazing moment. It’s the hardest trophy to win and for a reason. We’re happy.” 


Posting a 2.32 GAA and .906 save percentage this postseason, Florida doesn’t win the Cup this year without Bobrovsky and they certainly wouldn’t have made the Final last year either. 


When Bobrovsky retires, there’s no doubt that he will be elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame and it seems almost certain that he should get in as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.  


By the time he calls it a career, Bobrovsky should finish top-10 all-time in wins (needs 27 more) and he still has the chance to win more hardware. But even if he walked away from the game tomorrow, he’d still be getting the call from the Hall. 


Paul Maurice finally did it


The other Panther that will be seeing his name enshrined within the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Esso Great Hall for the rest of time is the man who led his group of men to hockey immortality — head coach Paul Maruice.


A proud son of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Paul Maurice has been one of the most prominent figures in the National Hockey League for the better part of 30 years.


After getting his first NHL head coaching job at the fresh age of 28 back in 1995 with the Hartford Whalers, Maurice has waited a long time to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. 


With 24-seasons as a head coach under his belt between Hartford, Carolina, Toronto, Winnipeg and Florida — Maurice’s name is near the top of the coaching record books. 


He’s coached the second most games in NHL history (1,848) and has the fourth most wins (869). Despite the plethora of experience in the NHL, Maurice was still searching for his Stanley Cup. 


“I need to win one,” Maurice said on June 7, just a day before Game 1 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final. “That’s the truth, that’s how I feel. I’m 30 years into this thing, I wouldn’t mind winning one — how about that?”


Maurice came close twice to winning it all, making the Cup Final in 2002 with the Hurricanes and then last year in 2023 with the Panthers — losing both of those series.


Entering Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, Maurice was 4-0 in his career in a Game 7. 


In by far the most important Game 7 of his career, Maurice kept that undefeated streak alive and finally won the Stanley Cup. 


On Monday night after all the players took their lap with the Cup, 23-year-old Spencer Knight came over to Maurice mid-interview and said “here you go,” handing over the Cup to a man who got his start in the NHL nearly six years before he was born. 


With his eyes closed, Maurice hoisted the Cup over his head as cheers poured down from the stands at Amerant Bank Arena and his players watched nearby. 


“F– yeah,” Maurice shouted as he pumped the Cup in the air. He finished the job. 


“It’s for my mom and dad in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario,” Maurice told Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas postgame. “All of the people that suffered through 30 years of me losing and making excuses. Mom and dad especially.”


“Hey dad, your name’s going up with your heroes,” an emotional Maurice added. “Beliveau, Richard, Howe, Lindsay, Maurice.” 


The once young man behind the bench is now a grizzled 57-year-old vet and he finally has his Stanley Cup. 


Like Bobrovsky, this should all but guarantee Maurice — the second winningest coach in NHL history —  a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. 


Who’s next?


I think it’s clear that if Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov continues producing at the same rate, he’ll hit 1,000 games and 1,000 points in the NHL — he’s already surpassed 700 for both of those at 28. Just the tenth player ever to win the Selke trophy more than once, Florida’s  franchise leader in virtually every record and now the first captain in Panthers history and the first captain from Finland to win the Cup, Barkov is on the right path for a Hall of Fame career.


“It’s incredible,” Barkov said after Florida won the Cup. “It’s hard to describe what’s going on and what just happened.” 


Aaron Ekblad, a former first-overall pick and the second longest tenured Panthers after Barkov, will more than likely see his name hang from the rafter at Amerant Bank Arena once he retires. The holder of most games, goals, assists and points by a Panthers defenseman across his 10-years in Florida — No. 5 should belong to Ekblad and Ekblad only.


“They always say you can’t f—ing get the words out man, it’s incredible, this is amazing” Ekblad said on Sportsnet after Game 7. “Sorry for swearing but this is the best moment of my life so far. Nothing tops it.”


Whether they find themselves in  the Hall of Fame, in the rafters or just in an alumni suite, the 2024 Florida Panthers are the greatest team in franchise history and will be remembered for eternity as the very first team to bring the Stanley Cup to South Florida.

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