Stanley Cup Final 2023 – Clearing up the confusion about the Florida Panthers

kristen shiltonESPN NHL reporterJune 5, 2023 at 08:17 AM5 minute read

Golden Knights take Game 1 behind third-period surge

The Golden Knights score three goals in the third period to capture a 5-2 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Panthers.

It’s been 600 years since William Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?”

Here, in 2023, we are still asking the same question, not about Romeo and Juliet, of course, but about the Florida Panthers.

More specifically, the mascot of the Florida Panthers.

Is it a real panther emblazoned on the team sweater? Or a panther in name only? And what is the difference between him and other big cats?

As Florida prepares to face the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, feline frenzy has been an online theme throughout the team’s improbable Stanley Cup playoff run.

The Panthers Social Media Team he even tweeted a link of Wildlife, Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida to help explain what your cat is really like.

“Panthers can sometimes be confused with bobcats, dogs, and coyotes,” the team tweeted, citing the report.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The Panthers’ primary mascot is the Stanley C. Panther, named in 1995 for Darrel Ambrosini, then five years old. The nickname is first and foremost a reference to the piece of hardware Florida is currently four wins away from lifting for the first time in team history.

The design itself is an anthropomorphic version of the endangered cat, an acknowledgment of the official state animal, the wildlife population, and the ferocity of the beast itself.

But is a panther really a panther? The answer is… complex.

This is Stanley C. Panther, the humanoid version of the endangered big cat.Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

“A panther is absolutely the same as a cougar or a mountain lion. They’re all the same animal,” said Dr. Mark Elbroch, director of the cougar program at Panthera, a global science and conservation organization for bobcats. ESPN. Elbroch has spent more than two decades studying big cats. “It’s the species listed as the world record holder for the most names. The Florida panther is not only the exact same animal, but the exact same subspecies as those in Idaho, Washington state and California, and all of Mexico. So, it’s just a name thing.”

Elbroch said the big cats’ incredible geographic range, from central Canada to South America, is how a single animal earns several different titles.

“In Florida, if you don’t say the word ‘Florida panther,’ people may not know what you’re talking about,” Elbroch said. “Whereas in Washington, everyone says cougar; in Wyoming, everyone says mountain lion. And if you don’t use the local lingo, people look at you funny and immediately identify you as a stranger.”

While the Florida panther, which weighs anywhere from 80 to 130 pounds, might share a name with other felines (Elbroch estimates there were 28 different species of cougar at one time), the Florida version boasts a unique story. They were the only cats east of the Plains to miraculously survive a rush of European settlement and were able to recover from just 20 remaining to over 200 now, a “remarkable” increase according to Elbroch.

The panther stayed alive by hiding in the mosquito-infested swamps of South Florida and “held out there,” Elbroch said. The pine forests and wetlands around Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve are where the panther continues to take refuge, in a place where few humans, or real estate developers, can bother it.

Such tenacity of spirit could certainly lend itself to making the panther an appropriately dominant symbol in the world of sport. However, from a scientific perspective, Elbroch can’t help but point out that the panther isn’t exactly the communal type.

“The panther is an odd choice for a team emblem because cougars function most of the time on their own in terms of hunting,” he said. “The African lion, for example, defends the family collectively. But the panther is more solitary. It’s not an aggressive animal, something teams may not realize unless threatened. And then, for Of course, you’re going to see their teeth and claws.”

Actually, that might be a perfectly apt analogy for this season-long iteration of the Florida Panthers. The Ice Cats seemed tame early on in a lean year spent mostly out of playoff contention. It wasn’t until their last appearance in the Eastern Conference final postseason seed that Florida began to show some determination. That evolved into the Panthers becoming this postseason behemoth, tackling all comers en route to a resoundingly unanticipated Stanley Cup Final berth.

It’s a trajectory that Panthers share with (all sorts of) their feline counterparts.

“They are fiercely independent, amazingly strong, agile . I think of the panther as that calm, cautious personality at heart,” Elbroch said. “They love to watch, they love to observe, and you’ll only see the tooth and claw type if you corner them. And then, of course, they’re going to fight for their lives.”

So what’s in a name?

Should the Florida Panthers really be the Florida Cougars? Or the Florida mountain lions?

This is a royal panther from Florida. They are usually tan in color and males weigh around 130 pounds.sierra club

And why, exactly, are there so many titles for such similar beasts?

Perhaps we take a page from Shakespeare and wonder why we need to name things? Just like the panthers, just let the Florida panthers run free in their natural habitat.

“I think people have always been enamored with the grace and strength of big cats,” Elbroch said. “A mountain lion can take down prey that weighs 10 times its weight—that’s essentially superhuman power. Sports teams want to emulate that kind of strength, right? A big cat is a survivor. They’re incredibly resilient. They’re strong. And They have the weapons to protect themselves.”