TAMPA BAY — The Florida Panthers or Tampa Bay Lightning are assured of winning the Cup this season.
The Governor’s Cup, that is.
Gov. Rick Scott and the state’s two NHL teams announced Thursday the creation of the trophy, which will go to team that captures the annual season series between the Atlantic Division rivals.
The team with the most points at the end of the season series will win the Cup. The first tiebreaker is goal differential.
The Governor’s Cup is aimed at growing the popularity of the sport in Florida while also supporting youth hockey. Each team will make a donation to the other team’s youth hockey initiatives.
“The Sunshine State is a national leader in sports, and the creation of the Governor’s Cup is great news for Florida hockey,” Gov. Scott said. “This competition is an excellent way to highlight the opportunities that Floridians, and our visitors, have to enjoy all of the wonderful activities that our state has to offer.”
The Lightning and Panthers will meet four times this season. The game’s are:
— Thursday, Oct. 10, Panthers at Lightning, 7:30 p.m. — Sunday, Oct. 27, Lightning at Panthers, 5 p.m. — Monday, Dec. 23, Lightning at Panthers, 7:30 p.m. — Thursday, March 13, Panthers at Lightning, 7:30 p.m.
Officials with both teams said they were excited to play for the Governor’s Cup.
“We are thrilled to work with Gov. Scott and the Tampa Bay Lightning organization to launch the Governor’s Cup,” Panthers president & CEO Michael R. Yormark said. “The Governor’s Cup is an important initiative for our organization as we look to help grow the sports of hockey in the state of Florida, cultivate the passion of our fans with this great in-state rivalry, and also benefit local youth hockey and education.”
“The Lightning are honored to partner with Gov. Scott and the Florida Panthers to launch the Governor’s Cup this season,” Lightning chief operating officer Steve Griggs said. “Our history against the Panthers runs deep and competing for the Governor’s Cup is going to be another new, exciting element to this rivalry for our team and fans.”