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Monday, July 15, 2024

Panthers Cap Banner Season by Staving Off Cup Collapse

  • The dramatic Game 7 caps a resurgent year for the Panthers and the NHL.
  • It's the first Stanley Cup for the Panthers, and Canada's Cup drought is extended by another year.
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers did not want to win this way—but they got it done. 

On Monday night, the franchise hoisted its first Stanley Cup on home ice after defeating the Edmonton Oilers 2–1 in Game 7 of a dramatic series. After winning the first three games of the series, the Panthers seemed primed to wrap their championship bid quickly, until the Connor McDavid-led Oilers erased the deficit with stunning wins in Games 4, 5, and 6.

After the teams ended the first period tied, Panthers center Sam Reinhart beat Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner on a wrist shot with 4:49 left in the second period. It would be the season-deciding goal.

McDavid was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner after a historic 42-point run through 25 games. He’s sixth player to win the trophy—awarded to the most valuable player throughout the entire postseason—despite his team not hoisting the Cup. McDavid, who did not register a point in Games 6 or 7, was heavily favored to win the Conn Smythe regardless of the outcome of Game 7.

Matthew Tkachuk, the standout player of the series, follows in the footsteps of his high school classmate, Jayson Tatum, who won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics last week.

Alongside the unexpected seven-game drama—which saw Oilers fans chartering planes to Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, and the cheapest ticket prices jump into the four figures—the Stanley Cup Final was also a screaming success for ABC. The Disney-owned channel saw a 36% boost in U.S. ratings through the first six games, amounting to an average of 3.6 million viewers. Throughout North America, Game 6 alone pulled in an average of 9.7 million viewers—crowning it as the most watched Stanley Cup Playoffs game across the continent since 2019.

The gains are striking, especially after the playoff teams representing four of the top 10 biggest US media markets—including New York and Los Angeles—fell out of Cup contention. The ratings round off a year of wins for the NHL, which saw record regular season attendance and annual revenue, a figure that has crept north of $6 billion.

Florida’s Stanley Cup run marks the pinnacle of an already-marquee season. The team drew record attendance—during the regular season, it saw the biggest regular jump in the NHL—and the franchise’s ticket revenue soared more than 50% from just two seasons earlier, according to the Associated Press. The Panthers’ consecutive Finals appearances have been a boon for the team in the short term, and set up the franchise for long-term success.

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