from Tim Reynolds of NBC Miami,
Vincent Viola has a problem. It’s a good problem.
Viola is one of the owners of Forte, the presumed favorite for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. He also owns the Florida Panthers, who just knocked off the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. And this weekend, with racing and hockey on his calendar, Viola might need to be in two places at once.
It beats the alternative. For the first time, the Panthers have reached the NHL’s second round in back-to-back years — getting there this year after stunning the Boston Bruins. The dark days for the franchise are gone, and Viola feels like the team is getting closer on making good on its promise to bring a Stanley Cup to South Florida.
“It’s everything that we anticipated around this process and on this journey,” Viola said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. “We feel that we got through some pretty tough roller-coaster years. It means an awful lot. And it means an awful lot because I see the confidence reflected in the fan base. I truly feel that the fan base truly believes in a way, quite frankly, that was not warranted in the past.
“They gave us a lot of confidence and a lot of support on credit. They kind of surrendered it to us on credit, and it took us a while to earn it. Now I feel we have an organization that they can be proud of.”