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The Florida Panthers franchise was awarded to Blockbuster Video magnate H. Wayne Huizenga in 1992 and came into the league with the Anaheim Ducks as part of the 1993 expansion.
The Panthers first season was considered quite a success finishing just one point below .500 and narrowly missing a playoff birth. This success was mainly attributed to the trap defense that was implemented by coach Roger Neilson.
On the night of the Panthers 1995-96 home opener, when a rat scurried across the teams locker room Scott Mellanby reacted by one-timing the rat against the wall, killing it. That night he scored two goals, which goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck quipped was a rat-trick. Two nights later, as the story found its way into the world, a few fans threw rubber rats on the ice in celebration of a goal. The rubber rat count went from 16 for the third home game to over 2,000 during the playoffs.
The Panthers began the 1995-96 season with a 17 game unbeaten streak but faltered in the second half and were ousted by Wayne Gretzkys New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.
After only three years in the league, the Florida Panthers went on an impressive run in the 1996 playoffs, defeating the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins in seven only to cup a little short losing out to the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup finals.