The heat has been turned up a notch down in Florida.
During the second-round series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers, a report from Pat Donovan and Aaron Jacobson of the Pat and Aaron Show on 95.3 WDAE & AM 620 in Tampa alleged that Panthers' players were out partying at a strip club on Sunday night following a 5-1 loss in Game 3 at Amalie Arena. This was despite the fact that Game 4 of the series took place the following evening, where the Presidents Trophy winners’ season came to an end.
Jacobson revealed that according to “a very good source, … a lot” of Panthers players were out late, "until at last 2:45."
“The text at around 2:40 [AM] said something along the lines of ‘we just got a bottle and we’re leaving,’” the hosts shared on the radio show.
While Panthers coach Andrew Brunette vehemently denied the rumour ahead of Game 4, Florida was lethargic and was swept by the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The sequence of events inspired a local company, 1771 Designs, to create merchandise to mock their state rivals and the short series against the Lightning.
Earlier this week, 1771 Designs put out a design and promoted a T-shirt which depicts a parodic version of the Panthers’ logo. The beast has been replaced by a dancer swinging on a post, though her face is replaced with a side profile of a panther. The team’s name has been replaced by the word SWEPT as a reminder of Florida's disappointing playoff exit.
The merchandise will likely fuel the already fiery interstate rivalry between the Panthers and the Lightning.
1771 Designs and the rest of Tampa will hope that the T-shirt won’t turn into bad karma for the Bolts, who are looking to even up the Eastern conference final in Game 2 Friday night against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
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