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Viola bought Panthers based on ‘intuition’

Panthers Sale Hockey

In this image provided by Virtu Financial and taken on Sept. 19, 2013, Vincent Viola, chairman and CEO of Virtu Financial, poses for a photo in Dublin, Ireland. A person familiar with the situation says the Florida Panthers NHL hockey club have been sold to Viola. The person says Viola will be introduced at a news conference Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, and is paying $250 million to buy the NHL franchise. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the terms have not been made public. (AP Photo/Virtu Financial, Mark Maxwell)


New York City businessman Vincent Viola is now the proud owner of the Florida Panthers, but had you predicted that to him two months ago, he might not have believed you.

“I had this intuition about the Panthers and I was starting to watch the team at the end of last year and I had this intuition about hockey,” Viola told the Panthers’ website. “It was really by intuition that it happened.”

That led to a lunch meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the rest is history.

Obviously, Viola wants to win, but it sounds like the long-time hockey fan also plans to play an active role in shaping the team. Before the Panthers inked Tim Thomas to a one-year deal, he spent the day with the 39-year-old goaltender to determine if he’s someone that Viola wanted as part of his franchise.

“The impact that he had was very relevant on the ice as far as our personnel and I expect to have the same thing as we move forward,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said of Viola.

The Panthers franchise doesn’t have a lot to be proud of in terms of on-ice accomplishments. However, they currently have promising young players that could be the cornerstones of their team. It might not be too long before Viola is the owner of a serious contender.

Follow @RyanDadoun