Lifelong Panthers fan turns back time as team seeks 1st Stanley Cup

In a heartwarming blast from the past, lifelong Florida Panthers fan once again Jim Stegall found himself transported back to a monumental moment in the team’s history.

As he reminisced about the electrifying atmosphere outside the old Miami Arena, where fans eagerly awaited the doors to open for the Panthers’ first Stanley Cup appearance in 1996, Stegall said his excitement was hard to contain.

Recently, a vintage video shared by Local 10′s Vintage Florida captured the fervor of that unforgettable day.

“When I saw the video, we did make it on the video 28 years later,” said Stegall. “That is really me. I did get on that video.”

For Stegall and countless other fans, seeing themselves in the video reignited the same adrenaline-fueled emotions they experienced nearly three decades ago.

“This was our first Stanley Cup appearance. It was great. We were there before the doors opened,” Stegall said.

Back then, the Panthers were still in their infancy, just three years into their journey as a franchise. Yet, the energy of their supporters, known for their iconic “rat toss” tradition, knew no bounds.

“It was our first taste of success, our moment to shine,” said Stegall. “The energy in that arena was unlike anything I’d ever felt before.”

Now, as the Panthers continue to make waves in the NHL and make their back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearance, Stegall and fellow Panthers fans find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of memories.

As the Panthers forge ahead, their loyal fan base remains steadfast, their passion undiminished by the passage of time. And for Stegall and others like him, every glimpse of the past is a reminder of the enduring magic of hockey and the bonds that unite fans across generations.

“It’s amazing,” said Stegall. ‘It puts me right back.”

Game 2 is set for Monday night at Amerant Bank Arena as the Panthers look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Edmonton Oilers.

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