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The Panthers advance to the Stanley Cup Final yet again, as the state of Florida continues to dominate the Eastern Conference

Chants of “We want the Cup!” reverberated throughout the arena, as players, coaches, staff and even family members gathered around to have their picture taken with the NHL’s Eastern Conference Trophy on Saturday night.

Where was this arena located? Toronto? Montreal? How about New York, Detroit or Boston?

Try Sunrise, Florida, a principal city located in the Miami metropolitan area (according to its official Wikipedia Page). The venue in question was Amerant Bank Arena, home of the Florida Panthers. The fans in attendance were cheering on a Florida team that had just clinched its second-straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final after knocking off the New York Rangers, four games to two, in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Rangers entered the playoffs as winners of the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded annually to the team with the most regular-season points. Since it had been 30 years since the Blueshirts had hoisted Lord Stanley, this just had to be the year for it, right?


The Rangers may have posted 114 points and captured the Metropolitan Division during the regular season, but Florida, who won the Atlantic Division, was no slouch with 110. Led by center Sam Reinhart, forward Matthew Tkachuk and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, the Panthers hadn’t been slouches for quite a while. Injuries may have derailed most of their 2022/2023 campaign, but they got healthy in time to clinch the postseason as an eighth seed and make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before falling to the Las Vegas Golden Knights in five games.

The 2023/2024 Panthers were healthy. They were tough. They were formidable.

Plus, the Panthers were from Florida, and as everyone knows, that state now runs the East. Why do I say that? Because the previous four Eastern Conference Champions came out of the Sunshine State.

Starting in 2020, the Tampa Bay Lightning captured the Eastern Conference three years in a row and won two Stanley Cups. The Panthers took the crown last year.

You can now make that five years in a row, thanks to the Panthers’ Eastern Conference repeat.

The NHL is weird that way.

So much of its legacy revolves around Canada, the teams who reside in that country and the Original Six. If a team from Canada can’t win the Cup, hopefully, one of the Original Six will. Unfortunately, no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. As for the Original Six? The Chicago Blackhawks were the last to hoist it in 2015. Since then, the Penguins (twice), Capitals, Blues, Lightning (twice), Avalanche and Golden Knights have all taken turns drinking champagne out of it.

No Canadian team has represented the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final since the Ottawa Senators in 2007. The Western Conference has only produced four Canadian champions this century.

There are only seven teams from Canada, and two of them make up the Original Six. That makes a combined 11 franchises that the league would love to see win it all out of a total of 30.

But the state of Florida continues to produce Eastern Conference winners and Stanley Cup champs like citrus fruit.

The Edmonton Oilers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday night. Maybe the Oilers will finally bring the Cup back to Canada.

But they’ll have to go through the state of Florida, and I’m not so sure they can stand the heat.


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