The NHL Florida Panthers were founded in 1993 in Sunrise, Florida, a suburb of Miami. The Panthers made a real quick rise to success, winning their one and only Eastern Conference Championship in 1996, and therefore reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. The Panthers team of the 1995-1996 season won a lot of close games, due to the goaltending of the great John Vanbiesbrouck, who had begun his career in 1981 with the New York Rangers and already had an impressive resume before arrive in South Florida. Banbiesbrouck was elected into the hall of fame in 2007.
Following the success of the mid-1990's the Panthers had a long dry run. From 1997-2011 the Panthers only made the playoffs one time, and that was in 2000, when they were shutout in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the New Jersey Devils 4-0. In 2012 the Panthers made the playoffs once more and once again faced the Devils in the first round, this time losing in seven games. However, there may be some hope on the horizon. The Panthers have several young players who have emerged from the rubble. 22-year-old left winger Jonathan Huberdeau led the team in points, 54, and assists, 39, this season. 22-year-old center Nick Bjugstad led the team in goals with 24.