Panthers-Bruins Playoff Sked Thrown Off By Concert
Apr. 15, 1996
POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Complaints from the Bruins, a Garth Brooks concert and an NBA game forced the NHL to reconfigure its playoff schedule for the Boston-Florida playoff series.
The two teams now won't have to play back-to-back games this week. Instead, there will be a five-day lag time between the first two games. Next week, the teams could face playing on consecutive dates twice if the series goes seven games.
``I have never experienced this type of schedule,'' said Panthers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck. ``Maybe we can invite Garth Brooks to the game.''
After Florida beat the New York Rangers 5-1 to clinch home ice on Sunday, the Panthers were under the impression they would play Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Brooks has three concert dates at the Miami Arena beginning Thursday. The Miami Heat finishes out the season against Atlanta on Sunday at the arena.
``It sounds like they wanted us to play back-to-back ... that doesn't sound fair to us,'' Bruins center Adam Oates said after Boston clinched the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference Sunday night with a 6-5 win over Pittsburgh.
The Bruins hoped the Panthers would consider playing the second game in Boston. No way, said Panthers coach Doug MacLean.
``Obviously, we weren't going to give up the two home games. We worked too hard to get there,'' said MacLean.
The NHL decided to have the Panthers play on Wednesday and Monday. In the meantime, the Bruins can enjoy the South Florida sunshine.
NHL spokesman Andy McGowan refused to give details of all the maneuvering that took place late Sunday, but said that Florida simply assumed it would play back-to-back dates and nothing was ever official.
That schedule would have forced the Bruins to play five games in seven days. ``That was the hand we were dealt,'' McGowan said.
Panthers assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher speculated the Bruins ``are trying to buy a quick start,'' but also said few thought in October that Florida would need postseason ice team.
``A lot of people at the beginning of the season were picking us 12th in the conference, so I don't think (the Miami Arena) was too concerned about home dates,'' Fletcher said.
The rest time between games 1 and 2 will allow the Panthers to nurse some nagging injuries. Yet the emphasis on the first game has been increased, said Florida captain and center Brian Skrudland.
``Obviously, it's going to be a big advantage for whoever gets off to a great start,'' Skrudland said. ``You are going to be sitting on that win. It's going to be a bit of a mental, psychological advantage.''