NHL Hockey Teams In Florida

Last Updated on October 11, 2023 by Alex PT

Florida is home to two NHL hockey teams: the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Panthers are based in Sunrise, while the Lightning play in Tampa. Together, they make up the NHL presence in the state.

How Many NHL Hockey Teams Are in Florida?

Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers as we should know by now are a professional hockey team that plays their home games in Florida. They are based in the metropolitan area of Miami. They are one of the competitors in the NHL which stands for the National Hockey League. They are in this competition as part of the Atlantic division. They are part of the Eastern Conference of this competition. All their home games used to be played at the Miami Arena. They stopped playing the home games in that arena and moved to the FLA Live Arena. Their move was in 1998, their arena is located in Sunrise City. They are a very prestigious team as they are seen to be one of the southernmost teams when compared to the other southern teams in Florida. The Panthers started playing hockey in 1993 and they started playing in the season 1993/1994 season. They held the record since then for the most expanded team in the NHL. This title was taken from them later on but they held it for a long time. 

Panthers History

Here is how it all started for them. A  blockbuster video magnate was awarded a franchise with the NHL. He was given this franchise for Miami in 1992. The same day, Walt Disney was allowed to own a team in Anaheim. During this same business, the blockbuster magnate called Wayne Huizenga owned a Major league baseball team called the Florida Marlins. He was a successful businessman at the time and invested a lot in sports. He also owned a huge share with the NFL team at that time called the Miami Dolphins. 

The few to start this team at the time were 50 million dollars. Huizenga being a businessman at the time said that he was willing to do it, he then decided to pay the money at the Miami Arena. He agreed to share this place with one basketball team at a time. 

After all the business happened, they announced on the news that the team that they were creating would be called the Florida Panthers.  They brought in managers from different teams to come and keep the team up and running. They brought in the former general manager of the New Your Islanders to be the president of the team. Talking about Bill Torrey. They also employed Bobby Clarke as the general manager of the team. The name panther as we know came from the name of a very dangerous wild cat which makes them a fearful team to be in opposition with. 

Tampa Bay Lightning 

Tampa Bay Lightning 

Tampa Bay Lightning is also known as Bolts. They are a professional hockey team also located in Florida, Tampa to be precise. Just like the Florida Panthers they also compete in the NHL as a professional team. They are part of the Eastern Conference from the Atlantic division. All their home games are played at the Amalie Arena located in downtown Tampa, Florida. 

So far so good, the team has done great for themselves, and they have had some good players play for them. They were also able to bag three Stanley Cups and also get to the Stanley Cup finals after bagging three. They are fighters. The team is owned by Jeffery Vinik, and their general manager goes by the name Julien Brisebois. One of the legendary coaches in hockey also used to be a part of their team. Talking about Jon Cooper. He became their head coach in 2013 and is still with them now. This put him as the longest-lasting head coach of a hockey team since the start of the NHL


The team was created in the late 1980s. At the time they were about to create this team, there were two teams based in Tampa who were both fighting for the franchise. They said that it would later expand though. This didn’t happen as the Tampa Bay Lightning won the bid for the franchise. Back then, they had two owners, Phil Esposito who was the man behind the idea, the other man Tony was just his brother who was supporting him. Today, both Phil and his brother Tony are members of the Hockey Hall Of Fame. 

Even though before they bid, they lost one of the major backers they had gotten to back them up for the bid. These backers were later replaced by a Japanese business. When most people looked at the scenario, the other team bidding against them looked like they had more cash than they did. This wasn’t the case at all because those people were only willing to pay 29 million dollars. When the Esposito group came, they had 50 million dollars in full to pay for the team. They had no other choice but Esposito and his brother won the bid and they named the team Tampa Bay Lightning. At the time, Phil became the President of the team while his brother was the chief scout. Phil had two offices back then, he was also the general manager of the team. They employed Terry Crisp who was a former player and also a coach as their head coach. He got to first coach the team after they were created.

Why Does Florida Have Just Two NHL Teams?

Florida has just two NHL teams, the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, due to various factors including population distribution, market size, and historical expansion of the NHL.

  1. Population Distribution: Florida is a large and populous state, with its residents often concentrated in specific areas. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, where the Florida Panthers are located, and the Tampa Bay region, home to the Tampa Bay Lightning, are the most densely populated and economically vibrant areas in the state. This makes them attractive locations for professional sports teams.
  2. Market Size: The NHL typically looks for markets that can support a professional hockey team with a strong fan base, corporate sponsorships, and media presence. Both the Miami and Tampa Bay areas meet these criteria, making them suitable for NHL teams.
  3. Historical Expansion: The expansion of NHL teams is influenced by various factors, including ownership interest, arena availability, and demand for the sport. Florida’s two NHL teams were introduced in the 1990s as part of the league’s expansion into new markets. The Florida Panthers joined the NHL in 1993, followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992.
  4. Rivalry: The presence of two NHL teams in Florida has also created an intrastate rivalry, with the Panthers and Lightning competing in the same state but in different divisions. This rivalry has added to the appeal of hockey in the region.
  5. Travel and Geography: The vast geography of Florida makes it practical to have two teams located at opposite ends of the state, reducing the need for extensive travel during the regular season.

Where Do the NHL Teams Play in Florida?

The two NHL teams in Florida play in separate arenas. Here are the details of their respective arenas:

  1. Florida Panthers:
    • Team: Florida Panthers
    • Arena: FLA Live Arena
    • Location: Sunrise, Florida
    • Capacity: The FLA Live Arena has a seating capacity of approximately 19,250 for hockey games. It is known for its modern facilities and fan-friendly atmosphere. The arena serves as the home for the Florida Panthers and hosts various other events and concerts.
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning:
    • Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
    • Arena: Amalie Arena
    • Location: Tampa, Florida
    • Capacity: Amalie Arena has a seating capacity of around 19,092 for hockey games. The arena is known for its striking architecture, modern amenities, and a passionate fan base. In addition to being the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, it hosts concerts, shows, and other events.

Wrapping Up

We have seen the details of the teams that are located in Florida. Both teams are doing well and have progressed over the years.




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