Bill Torrey made expansion teams competitive with a simple philosophy that eluded many of his rivals. He established winning franchises by holding on to young talent acquired through the draft with an iron fist. He refused to make impatient trades for immediate results at the expense of the future. When a trade was feasible, he sought role players who would fit into the team concept.

Torrey was born in Montreal, Quebec and attended St. Lawrence University where he studied business and psychology. He began his administrative career in hockey with the American Hockey League's Pittsburgh Hornets during the 1960s. Prior to the 1968-69 NHL season, he became Executive Vice-president of the Oakland Seals. Torrey elevated the Seals from the West Division basement to a second place finish in his first year. They made the playoffs two straight years then Torrey departed the organization during the 1970-71 season.

The expansion New York Islanders selected Torrey to be their first general manager on February 15, 1972. He maintained this role until the end of the 1991-92 schedule. The Islanders appointed him vice-president in 1973, president five years later and chairman of the board in 1989. At the start of the 1992-93 season, Torrey relinquished his position but remained with the team as a consultant.

Torrey's Islanders won six Patrick Division titles and became the first US-based franchise to win four consecutive Stanley Cups between 1980 and 1983. Under his direction the team enjoyed fourteen consecutive winning seasons from 1974-75 to 1987-88.

"Bow-tie Bill" also made good use of his minor pro system as a means of developing young players. He served on the executives of the Fort Worth Wings and Texans and later the Indianapolis Checkers. The Islanders' affiliate clubs won three CHL and two IHL championships.

Torrey was named NHL executive-of-the-year by The Sporting News in 1974-75 and The Hockey News in 1976-77. In 1983 he was the recipient of the Lester Patrick Award and was elected to the Long Island Hall of Fame.

On April 19, 1993, Torrey embarked on a new challenge as the president of the expansion Florida Panthers. His new team began well in 1993-94 by winning 33 games and accumulating 83 points, both NHL records for first year clubs. Two years later the Panthers reached the Stanley Cup final, the fastest trip ever by an expansion club. Torrey worked endless hours spreading the popularity of hockey across south Florida and was a key reason why Miami was granted the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Torrey continues working for the Panthers as their Alternate Governor.

Torrey was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.

YEAR GM W L T OTL PTS PCT. FINISH PLAYOFFS
2000-01 46 16 20 6 4 42 .457 3rd SE Did Not Qualify
2001-02 26 6 15 2 3 17 .317 - -

TOTALS 72 22 35 8 7   .410    
 

An innovative and colourful bench boss, Neilson was noted for his sometimes unconventional coaching methods as he continually tested the boundaries defined by the sport's rules and regulations with his ability to find loop holes in a rule book for the benefit of his team. Above all else Roger Neilson competed hard as a coach in pursuit of a common goal: to achieve team success.

His success at the junior and pro ranks is well documented. Like most volunteer coaches Roger Neilson began with opportunities in minor hockey. He began coaching kids as a 17 year-old student while attending Hamilton, Ontario's, McMaster University.

Neilson first became a head coach during the 1977-79 season, coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs. Neilson then made stops with Buffalo, Vancouver, Los Angeles and the NY Rangers before becoming the first head coach of the Florida Panthers.

Hired on June 2, 1993, Neilson, along with president Bill Torrey and General Manager Bob Clarke, coached the Panthers to the most points in NHL history as an expansion team (81 points). The team narrowly missed out on a playoff spot, falling one point shy of the Islanders for the eighth and final spot.

Neilson also coached a second season in Florida, again narrowly missing out on a playoff spot by one point in the strike shortened season. He would later coach for Philadelphia (twice) and for Ottawa (for two games).

Among his most well-known innovations was the use of videotape to analyze other teams, leading to the nickname "Captain Video".

YEAR GC W L T OTL PTS PCT. FINISH PLAYOFFS
1993-94 82 33 34 - 17 83 .494 5th ATL Did Not Qualify
1994-95 48 20 22 - 6 46 .479 5th ATL Did Not Qualify

TOTALS 132 53 56 - 23   .489    
 

Igor Larionov was already heralded as one of the top hockey players in the world when he finally made his NHL debut in October of 1989 at the age of 29. Prior to that debut, Larionov had earned this reputation during a dominant stretch back home in Russia where he centered the top-line in the country for several years.

Larionov spent the first three years of his NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks and then two and a half more with the San Jose Sharks before finally finding a home with the Detroit Red Wings. There he won two Stanley Cups in four-and-a-half seasons.

At the age of 39, Larionov became a free agent.

The Florida Panthers, whose line-up featured one of the new Russian stars in Pavel Bure, decided to take a chance on Larionov in the hopes his leadership and guidance could help the Panthers and their young star. The Florida situation didn't quite work out, as the team struggled and Larionov scored just 11 points in 24 games with the club before he was traded away.

Larionov, was reaquired by the Red Wings and played four more seasons with the Wings before retiring in 2005-06 after one season with Brunflo IK of a league in Sweden.

Larionov was inducted into the Hall Of Fame on 2008.

YEAR GP G A PTS PIM +/-
2000-01 26 5 6 11 10 -11

NHL TOTALS 921 169 475 644 474  
 

Inducted as a player in 1987, Bobby Clarke was the Panthers first Vice President and General Manager in franchise history as owner Wayne Huizenga named Clark to the positions on March 1, 1993.

There Clarke teamed up with Bill Torrey and Roger Neilson to cultivate the NHL's most successful expansion team in franchise history.

It all started with drafting goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck with the first pick of the NHL Expansion draft and then selecting forward Rob Niedermayer in the Entry Draft. Players such as Scott Mellanby, Dave Lowry, Briand Skrudland and Andrei Lomakin were also obtained in the Expansion Draft as well.

The Panthers, due to the piecing together by Clarke, Torrey and Neilson, managed to finish their first year of existence with a record of 33-34-17 (83 points). Florida finished ninth in the Eastern Conference and just one point shy of the playoffs.

Clarke would return to Philadelphia after the season to work as the Flyers President and GM, working for the team he spent his entire 15-year playing career.

YEAR GM W L T PTS PCT. FINISH PLAYOFFS
2003-04 27 33 34 17 83 .494 5th ATL Did Not Qualify

TOTALS 27 33 34 17   .494    
 

Also inducted into the Hall Of Fame as a player, Billy Smith, spent the first seven seasons with the Panthers, first as their Goaltending Coach and later on as an Assistant Coach.

Smith spent the first five seasons as the team's goaltending coach before being promoted on July 21, 1998 to Assistant Coach. There he helped with the defensive aspects of the game while also instructing the netminders at all levels of the Panthers organization.

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993, Smith was one of the greatest clutch goaltenders in NHL history. He won four Stanley Cups as part of the New York Islanders dynasty in the early '80s and finished his career, playing 18 seasons.

 

Dino Ciccarelli was signed as a free agent by the Minnesota North Stars in September 1979 and joined the NHL club during the 1980-81 season. While he played 32 games with the North Stars that season, Dino took the NHL by storm that spring with a dominating performance in the 1981 Stanley Cup playoffs. His 14 goals and 21 points in 19 games was a major contributor to Minnesota's march to the Stanley Cup final.

Ciccarelli spent eighth and a half seasons with the North Stars, before being traded to the Washington Capitals with defenceman Bob Rouse for sniper Mike Gartner and offensive defenceman Larry Murphy.

The gritty forward played four seasons with Washington before being traded once again, this time to the Detroit Red Wings for Kevin Miller during the summer of 1992.

Dino was an immediate hit in Motown, scoring 41 goals and 97 points in 1992-93. In the spring of 1995, Ciccarelli made his second trip to the Stanley Cup final, but Detroit fell to the New Jersey Devils, in spite of Dino's 9-goal output. In both 1995 and 1996, the Red Wings finished first overall, winning the Presidents' Trophy.

Dino was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a fourth round draft pick in August 1996. His veteran presence inspired the Lightning and invigorated Dino, who rebounded from a couple of less-productive seasons with a 35-goal and 60-point campaign. Yet, despite his personal success, the team continued to flounder in the standings and in January 1998, Dino was traded to the cross-state Florida Panthers along with Jeff Norton for Mark Fitzpatrick and Jody Hull. In his eighteenth NHL season, Ciccarelli reached a personal milestone, scoring his 600th career goal.

The 1998-99 season was the last for Ciccarelli, who was limited to just 14 games after suffering a back injury against the Chicago Blackhawks on November 4, 1998. At season's end, the Panthers released Ciccarelli. Dino subsequently retired on August 31, 1999, ranked ninth in NHL history in goals scored. Through his NHL career, Dino played 1,232 regular season games, finishing with 608 goals and 592 assists for 1,200 points. In 141 playoff games, he scored 73 goals and added 45 assists for 118 points.


Larionov was inducted into the Hall Of Fame on 2010.

YEAR GP G A PTS PIM +/-
1997-98 28 5 11 16 38 -2
1998-99 14 6 1 7 27 -1

PANTHERS TOTALS 42 11 12 23 65 -3
NHL TOTALS 1,232 608 592 1,200 1,425  
 

Ed Belfour will go down in history as one of the premier goaltenders ever to play in the NHL, but there is no denying he was a late bloomer.

In September 1987, Belfour, nicknamed 'Eddie the Eagle,' was signed by the Blackhawks to a free-agent contract. During the 1988-89 season, at the age of 23, Belfour appeared in 23 games, coming out of the gate with a rather unimpressive 4-12-3 official record and a 3.87 goals-against average.

Belfour had quickly established himself as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL, based primarily on one good season. Eager to follow that up, Belfour did not disappoint in 1991-92, where he helped the Blackhawks advance all the way to the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Belfour had also become known for his spirited personality.

The Belfour days in Chicago came to a surprising end in January 1997 when he was dealt to the San Jose Sharks. He remained with the Sharks for the duration of the 1996-97 season before signing a free-agent deal with the Dallas Stars. Belfour played in the Lone Star State for five years, and led the organization to its first Stanley Cup title in 1999, beating the Buffalo Sabres in the finals. Belfour remained the Stars' number one netminder through the 2001-02 season. During the summer of 2002, Belfour inked a multiyear contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, replacing the departed Curtis Joseph as the team's number one netminder.

Upon his arrival, Belfour continued his solid play in goal helping the Maple Leafs earn 2nd spot in their division while earning his 400th win with the club in early April. The following season, Belfour would lead the team once again into the playoffs where he would shutout the Ottawa Senators in three consecutive playoff games in the first round. The Leafs would then lose to the Philadelphia Flyers in the next round.

In 2005, the netminder surpassed Terry Sawchuck for second place in all time wins by a goaltender, however finished the season with a lackluster .500 record on a Leaf club that failed to make the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. In the 2006 off-season, Toronto Maple Leaf General Manager John Ferguson released Ed Belfour. The veteran netminder would sign with the Florida Panthers where he would split his time with Alex Auld in goal. During that season, an injury to Auld allowed for Belfour to regain his form and post a 2.79 GAA and .902 save percentage while going 27-17-10 in the crease. After his time in Florida, Belfour signed as a free agent with Leksands IF in the Swedish second division.

Belfour's outstanding NHL career concluded having played 963 regular season games. He won 484, lost 320, tied 125 and had 14 overtime losses. Ed compiled 76 shutouts and finished with a goals-against average of 2.50 and a save percentage of .906. In the playoffs, Ed played 161 more games, winning 88 (14 by shutout) and losing 68. His goals-against average was 2.17 and save percentage, .920.

Ed Belfour was the NHL's rookie of the year in 1991, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy. He won the William Jennings Trophy (best goals-against average) on four occasions: 1991, 1993, 1995 and 1999 (shared with Roman Turek). He also won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best netminder in 1991 and 1993. Ed was named to the NHL's First All-Star Team in 1991 and 1993, and to the Second Team in 1995. Along with the Stanley Cup in 1999, Belfour can now add one further accolade - membership in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.

Belfour was inducted into the Hall Of Fame on 2011.

YEAR GP W L T SO SV% GAA
2006-07 58 27 17 10 1 .902 2.77

NHL TOTALS 963 484 320 125 76 .906 2.50
 

Besides being an exceptional hockey player, Nieuwendyk was also considered to be the best lacrosse player in Canada, and at one point he even played on a team that won the Minto Cup, the country's top award in that sport.

In 1985, after his freshman year at Cornell, the Calgary Flames were sufficiently impressed to draft him in the second round, 27th overall. In his first full season as a Flame (1987-88), the young centre scored 51 goals and 92 points, becoming only the second NHL player after Mike Bossy to score 50 goals in his rookie season. His totals also included an eye-popping 31 powerplay goals and 8 game-winners, and he was rewarded with the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

Nieuwendyk's second season with the Flames was just as impressive as his first. He was the leader of a team that won the Stanley Cup, again scoring 51 goals. In 1991, he was named captain of the Flames. When knee problems prevented Nieuwendyk from playing early in the 1995-96 season, the Flames found few takers on the trade market. Finally, in December 1995, the Flames traded Nieuwendyk to the Dallas Stars for Jarome Iginla and Corey Millen.

Known as an aggressive player in front of the net as well as an exceptional passer, Nieuwendyk's style of play caused him a number of health problems. He missed most of the 1998 playoff due to a knee injury. However, in 1999, his health and luck returned as Nieuwendyk scored 6 game-winning goals in the playoffs to lead the Stars to victory over the Buffalo Sabres in the Stanley Cup finals. That spring, Joe was recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

Joe went on to play parts of two more seasons with the Stars before he was traded to the New Jersey Devils. Following his arrival in New Jersey, Nieuwendyk has reached numerous milestones,reaching the 500 goal-plateau, 500 assists and 1,000 points.

In 2003, Nieuwendyk earned his third career Stanley Cup ring despite missing the Devils' Final due to injury. Later that summer, he signed as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs where he suited up for one season before opting to move on to the Florida Panthers in the summer of 2005.

Nieuwendyk's first season with the Florida Panthers saw the centre tally 56 points in 65 games, however, the club failed to qualify for the playoffs that spring. Due to chronic back problems, Nieuwendyk retired three months into his second season with the Panthers.

Joe Nieuwendyk left the NHL as one of the most respected players of his time, collecting 564 goals and 562 assists for 1,126 points through 1,257 regular season games. In playoff action, he added 66 goals and 50 assists for 116 points in 158 games.

Besides three Stanley Cup championships, Nieuwendyk won the Calder Trophy in 1988, the King Clancy Trophy (for dedication to his community) in 1995 and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1999.

Nieuwendyk was inducted into the Hall Of Fame on 2011.

YEAR GP G A PTS PIM +/-
2005-06 65 26 30 56 46 -2
2006-07 15 5 3 8 4 -4

PANTHERS TOTALS 80 31 33 64 50 -6
NHL TOTALS 1,257 564 562 1,126 677  
 

He was dubbed 'The Russian Rocket,' and his blazing speed and goal-scoring prowess made Pavel Bure a star in both the National Hockey League and in international play.

Pavel Vladimirovich Bure was born March 31, 1971 in Moscow, the son of Tatiana Gvovana and Vladimir Bure. Pavel's father competed for the Soviet Union in swimming at the Olympic Games in 1968, 1972 and 1976, winning four medals. Pavel's grandfather also competed in the Olympics as a goalkeeper on the Soviet Union's water polo team.

While his father had designs on Pavel following his footsteps and becoming a championship swimmer, the boy had other ideas that revolved around playing professional hockey. Six-year-old Pavel was enrolled in a hockey school sponsored by CSKA Moscow, despite never having played hockey on ice.

While starring in his homeland, Pavel had been selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the sixth round (113th overall) of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. The selection had caused controversy as the Canucks had seemingly chosen Pavel a year before he was eligible. As he was just 18, he was available to be chosen in the first three rounds of the draft, but in order to be selected any later, he would had to have played in at least two seasons (with a minimum of 11 games per season) for his elite-level European club, the Central Red Army. Vancouver's head scout, Mike Penny, had discovered that the prodigy had played in additional exhibition and international games, which made him eligible to be a late-round draft choice a year earlier than expected.

Following his draft, Soviet authorities denied the Canucks contact with Pavel. It wasn't until September 1991 that Pavel left Moscow for North America, joined by his father and brother Valeri. The Canucks began negotiating a contract with Bure, but before one could be finalized, the issue of his existing deal with the Central Red Army had to be settled. Vancouver's management met with officials from the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation in October of that year, negotiating a settlement. The Canucks offered $200,000, with Pavel astonishingly offering an additional $50,000. The Russian officials accepted the $250,000 settlement (the Canucks paid the full $250,000). Pavel subsequently signed a four-year contract worth a reported $2.7 million, making the rookie the second highest-paid player on the Canucks, behind captain Trevor Linden.

Bure's NHL debut occurred on November 5, 1991 in a 3-3 tie against the Winnipeg Jets. He was sensational, and despite being held scoreless, his dizzying puckhandling talent and superb speed made him an instant fan favourite. That season, Pavel scored 34 goals and 60 points in 65 games, and was named the NHL's recipient of the Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year. That award, along with coach Pat Quinn's Jack Adams Award as the league's best coach, marked the first major individual awards given to any Canuck in franchise history.

In 1992-93, Bure collected the first of two consecutive 60-goal seasons, establishing a franchise record for goals in a season (Tony Tanti had set the previous mark with 44). Pavel finished the season with 110 points, and became the first Canuck named to the NHL First All-Star Team.

Bure led the league in scoring in 1993-94, and with his second straight season with 60 goals, became just the eighth player in NHL history to record back-to-back 60-goal campaigns. He finished the season with 107 points. That spring, Bure led Vancouver to the Stanley Cup final. It took seven games, but the New York Rangers eventually edged the Canucks for Lord Stanley's Cup. Bure finished second in playoff scoring with 16 goals and 31 points in 24 games.

Following the 1997-98 season, Pavel was traded to the Florida Panthers on January 17, 1999. Moving to Miami with Bure were Brad Ference, Bret Hedican and a third-round draft pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, while Mike Brown, Dave Gagner, Ed Jovanovski, Kevin Weekes and Florida's first-round selection in the 2000 draft.
Injuries plagued Pavel in Florida, too, and he played just 11 games in 1998-99, although he managed to score 13 goals and 3 assists. In 1999-2000, his first full season as a Panther, Bure led the NHL in goal-scoring with 58 to capture his first of two consecutive Maurice Richard Trophy wins. It marked the second time Pavel had led the league in scoring, but his first Rocket Richard Trophy, as the award had just been introduced the previous season. Combined with 36 assists, his 94 points was just two behind the league's scoring leader, Jaromir Jagr. Bure's production helped Florida to a fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, their first playoff berth in three seasons, although they were swept in the opening round of the post-season. Following that season, Bure was named as a nominee for the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL, although the award went to Jagr. Pavel was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team for the first time.

Battling injuries, Bure was still honoured with selection to play in the All-Star Game in 2000-01. His hattrick led the World team to a 9-4 win over North America, and he was named the game's most valuable player. That season, Bure repeated as scoring champion with 59 goals, reaching the 50-goal plateau for the fifth and final time in his career. The Panthers missed the playoffs again, however, Pavel was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team for the second straight season.

Prior to the 2001-02 season, Florida acquired Valeri Bure from the Calgary Flames, uniting the brothers on the same team. But Pavel suffered a number of injuries through the season and appeared in just 56 games. Yet, he still led the team in scoring for the third straight season, collecting 49 points in a partial season. At the trading deadline, he was shipped to the New York Rangers with a second-round draft pick for Filip Novak, Igor Ulanov and New York's first and second round selections in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft and a fourth-round pick in 2003. Between the two teams, he finished the season with 34 goals and 69 points.

Bure's injury woes continued, and he appear in just 39 games in 2002-03, managing 19 goals and 30 points. Due to the lingering effects of injuries, Pavel did not play at all in 2003-04, and with the lock-out of 2004-05, he missed two entire seasons. After the NHL resumed play in 2005-06, Pavel Bure announced his retirement at a media conference in Moscow on November 1, 2005.

Bure's NHL career consisted of 702 regular season games in which he scored 437 goals and 342 assists for 779 points. His abbreviated career also included 70 points (an equal number of goals and assists) scored in 64 playoff contests.

Bure was inducted into the Hall Of Fame on 2012.

YEAR GP G A PTS PIM +/-
1998-99 11 13 3 16 4 3
1999-00 74 58 36 94 16 25
2000-01 82 59 33 92 58 -2
2001-02 56 22 27 49 56 -14

NHL TOTALS 702 437 342 779 484  
 
 
   
Bob Clarke 1989
Billy Smith 1993
Bill Torrey 1995
Roger Neilson 2002
Igor Larionov 2008
Dino Ciccarelli 2010
Ed Belfour 2011
Joe Nieuwendyk 2011
Pavel Bure 2012
 
   
 
 
     
OUR PARTNERS

 

FloridaPanthers.com is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and floridapanthers.com are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2014 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.