The Florida Panthers are officially the hottest team in the entire NHL. The Cats are sitting atop the Atlantic Division, are red hot with a nine-game winning streak and are being led by the remarkable Jaromir Jagr, who scored twice in the Panthers’ 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild Sunday. So, how are Florida fans celebrating? By bringing an old tradition back.
Following Sunday’s win, Panthers fans celebrated with a tradition that dates back 20 seasons to Florida’s remarkable Stanley Cup final run in 1995-96: they threw rubber rats on the ice. As the final horn sounded, fans in attendance — of which there were 15,426, the sixth-best attendance of the season — threw rats on the ice. Check it out:
The Panthers’ rat-throwing tradition was born during the 1995-96 season when Scott Mellanby took his stick to a rat that was found in the Florida dressing room during an intermission. Mellanby proceeded to score two goals with the same stick. Panthers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck coined Mellanby’s feat a “rat trick” and a tradition was born. Later that season, Florida would go on a magical run to the Stanley Cup final and
“We’re a long way from that but it’s a lot of fun,” Gallant told the Miami Herald’s George Richards after the Panthers won eight straight. “The crowds are into the game, the team is playing very well…It’s awesome, couldn’t go any better for us right now. We just have to keep playing. We have to do it every night.”
The Panthers are in a great spot to make the post-season for the first time in four campaigns, and have a three-point lead over the Montreal Canadiens for first in the Atlantic. If Florida does make it to the post-season, we might be seeing more rubber rat showers in the near future.