After missing another close brush with the playoffs in 1994-1995, coach Roger Neilson was fired and replaced by Doug MacLean. They then acquired Ray Shepard from the San Jose Sharks on the trade deadline in 1996 and they looked towards the playoffs for the first time.
It came to an end in the Stanley Cup finals though. Their opponents, the Colorado Avalanche, would sweep the Panthers on Uwe Krupp's third-overtime goal in game 4. The next season, a team ravaged by injuries would lose to the New York Rangers on the first round. More injuries caused the team to have their worst record to that point in 1997-1998.
The Panthers moved into the National Car Rental Center (now known as Office Depot Center) in 1998, the new arena being the result of bickering and threatening to move the team. In 1999, they acquired Pavel Bure (the "Russian Rocket"), and they would reach the playoffs again in 2000 riding on his 58 goals.
Players of Note
Hall of Famers:
Not to be forgotten:
Florida Panthers official web site
For the animal species by this name, see Florida panther.