SUNRISE, Fla. – Fans of the Florida Panthers have been happily adapting to a sudden uptick in goal scoring over the past few years.
During their current five-game winning streak, the Panthers are averaging over five goals per victory. They’ve also scored more than any other team so far this season, averaging a league-best 3.72 goals per game.
For a weekend next winter, however, even those absurdly high numbers might seem a little low.
According to George Richards of The Athletic, the 2021 NHL All-Star Game is coming to the BB&T Center in Sunrise.
An official announcement from the league is expected sometime during the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend, which is being held in St. Louis on Jan. 24-25.
This will be the second time that the City of Sunrise has hosted the annual superstar showcase.
Back in 2003 at the then-Office Depot Center, Olli Jokinen gave the local crowd a thrill when he tied the game at five midway through the third period of what ended as a shootout loss to the Western Conference.
Jokinen was one of two Panthers players selected for the game, but the only Panthers player to participate in it.
Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh was chosen, and played, as an Eastern Conference starter, despite that two days before the game he was traded to Anaheim. How very 2000s Panthers.
The night before, during the NHL YoungStars Game, Florida rookies Stephen Weiss, Jay Bouwmeester and Niklas Hagman skated to the delight of the hometown fans. Weiss logged a goal and an assist, with Bouwmeester adding an apple of his own.
As we return from our trip down memory lane, the timing couldn’t be better for the Panthers to be showcased by the league.
Florida is in its first year under head coach Joel Quenneville and will head into the current season’s All-Star break comfortably sitting in one of the top three spots of a competitive Atlantic Division, also known as a coveted playoff spot.
While a postseason berth is far from guaranteed, the Panthers have been slowly but steadily improving as the season has gone by, just as the excitement surrounding the young and talented group of players has grown.
Currently, Florida’s roster features seven All-Star participants from over the years:
Aleksander Barkov (2018), Sergei Bobrovsky (2015, 2017), Brian Boyle (2018), Aaron Ekblad (2015, 2016), Joanthan Huberdeau (2020), Vincent Trocheck (2017), and Keith Yandle (2011, 2012, 2019).