After months of build-up, the Florida Panthers finally unveiled their new logo and jersey design at a lavish fan event on Thursday.
The initial reaction: pretty sharp. It won't be universally loved, but there's a boldness to it that should grow on most fans after they let it breathe a bit. And it's definitely an upgrade over the leaping cat design that was starting to feel a bit dated after nearly a quarter-century of use.
The Panthers wanted a look that reflects their maturity as a franchise, and this hits that mark. The color palette is familiar, but slightly warmer, with white and red as the dominant motifs and the blues removed from everywhere but the collar and the background of the main patch. The Montreal-style mid-chest band with gold border is a smart choice that offers a stark contrast to the new logo.
The leaping panther has been replaced by an alert bust within a shield, a retro-pastiche that was inspired by the “screaming eagle” emblem of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division.
It's jarring at first, but it works.
The real charm though is revealed in the minor flourishes. The crossed neck string evokes the Florida state flag, which also is utilized in concert with a prowling panther on the arm patches. Those will also feature a Florida (home) or Panthers (road) wordmark bar, but those particular patches will be added only once a player has made the 23-man roster. There also will be special bars worn by the captain and the alternates in addition to the letters typically displayed on the left breast, a first in the sport and a pretty cool idea. Since they're drawing heavily on military-style adornments, it wouldn't be surprising if they later added patches for all-stars, leading scorers or other milestones.
Overall, it's a solid redesign that reflects the evolution of one of hockey's most promising franchises.