SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers Owner and Governor Vincent J. Viola announced Sunday -- on the 25th anniversary of the club's inauguration as an NHL franchise -- that the Panthers will permanently retire number 37 in honor of franchise founder H. Wayne Huizenga on Friday January 19, 2018 at BB&T Center, when the Panthers host the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The number 37 was selected by the Huizenga family in recognition of Wayne's birth year and lucky number.
"Today, on the 25th anniversary of our franchise's inauguration, we have an opportunity to take stock of our history and celebrate what makes our organization special," Viola said. "If you look at the history of our franchise, it's clear that the founding years and H. Wayne Huizenga's stewardship represents a golden era for our club. We aspire to his example, both on the ice and in the community, which is why we're honored to hang the number 37 from BB&T Center's rafters as a permanent tribute to H. Wayne Huizenga and the Huizenga family's community leadership and high standard of excellence."
The number 37 will join number 93, which the Panthers retired in honor of William A. Torrey on October 23, 2010, in the rafters of BB&T Center.
"I was honored to partner with Wayne in the founding years of this franchise and I'm thrilled that our names will permanently fly side-by-side over Panthers games," said Torrey. "Our club will forever aspire to Wayne's standard of excellence on the ice and his community leadership off of it, which is why he's deserving of the highest honor the Florida Panthers can bestow."
On December 10, 1992 the NHL awarded H. Wayne Huizenga an NHL franchise, later named the Panthers. In the inaugural Panthers season the club nearly qualified for the playoffs and amassed 83 points, an NHL record for an expansion franchise that still stands today. The Huizenga family -- led by H. Wayne and his wife Marti -- were vocal supporters of the club, and Marti even made headlines during the 1996 Stanley Cup Final when the plastic rats she attempted to sneak into a Stanley Cup Final game at McNichols Arena in Denver, Colo. were confiscated by arena security. The Marti Huizenga Boys & Girls Club of Broward County were selected as a Community Champion by the Florida Panthers Foundation during the 2016-17 season in Marti's honor and the Huizenga family still maintains their suite at BB&T Center.
"The Panthers were always so important to my parents and the franchise remains a cherished part of our family legacy," said Ray Huizenga. "To see the team recognize Wayne's contributions -- not just as the franchise founder, but as an engaged and active member of the South Florida community -- means a lot to our family. We'll be honored to see the number 37 hanging from the rafters at BB&T center every time we attend Panthers games in the future."
Prior to the pre-game ceremony on Friday, December 19, Viola, the Huizenga family and the Florida Panthers will host a reception for all current and past Community Champions Grant Program recipients in the Chairman's Club at BB&T Center. The Community Champions Grant Program represents a $5 million commitment over five years from the Florida Panthers foundation, in support of not-for-profit organizations focused on helping the local community. The Marti Huizenga Boys & Girls Club of Broward County will be recognized as a Community Champion at the game on January 19.
The Territory Unites in honor of H. Wayne Huizenga on Jan. 19. Visit FloridaPanthers.com/TicketCentral to purchase tickets for this special match-up.