STATE SPAT

Chas­ing big brother Tampa Bay is an an­nual quest for the Pan­thers

The Hockey News - Rivalries 2014 - - Team Vs. Team -

AS ONE OF THE NHL’S most poorly man­aged teams in its 21 years – and one that has made the playo s just once since 2000 – the Florida Pan­thers are all but bereft of the high-stakes mo­ments that cre­ate world-class ri­val­ries. But they con­tinue to try heat­ing things up with their most nat­u­ral foes, the Tampa Bay Light­ning.

In the early days of the two fran­chises, it was easy to stoke the in­tra-state fires. Be­fore a game was even played be­tween the teams, the GMs of the Pan­thers (Bob Clarke) and Bolts (Phil Es­pos­ito) were at­tack­ing each other in the press, with Es­pos­ito say­ing the Light­ning would “beat the hell out of” Florida and Clarke call­ing his coun­ter­part in Tampa a pussy­cat. But since then, Tampa has had greater suc­cess, ne­ces­si­tat­ing a jump-start cam­paign.

That came in the form of the Gov­er­nor’s Cup, launched in 2013 and awarded to the win­ner of the an­nual se­ries be­tween the clubs. Last year’s in­au­gu­ral Cup went to Tampa, who won all four games by a com­bined score of 22-10.

The two teams meet Oct. 9, March 1, March 24 and April 4.

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