Home: NIC (National Ice Center) Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Colours: Gold, Black, White
The Nottingham Panthers are probably the most famous name in English ice hockey. They have completed at the top level English and British Leagues since their inception in 1946 however it has not always been a straightforward affair.
Even going back to the very beginning of ice hockey in Nottingham it almost did not start. The original Ice Stadium in Nottingham was finished in 1939 just in time for a team to be formed in time for the 1939 season only for it to be cancelled due to World War 2. The Panthers though did finally make their debut on 22nd November 1946 beating the Wembley Monarchs.
The Panthers first success came in 1951 when they won the English League title before repeating that in 1954. Following the merger of the English and Scottish leagues in 1954 the Panthers became members of the new British league and went from strength to strength and in the 1955 – 56 season won the Autumn Cup and the league title.
However that league title has so far proven to be the Panthers last league title. This was in part due to the collapse of the British League in 1960 that put the team in hiatus until 1980.
In 1980 the team did return after the relocation of the Sheffield Lancers and took their place in the English League. Then in 1983 the Nottingham Panthers took their place as a major player by being a founder member of the new British League and in 1986 won their first trophy in 30 years by beating the Fife Flyers to lift the Norwich Union Trophy.
Over the next 10 years the Panthers remained a force in the British League and prominent name of it. In 1996 once again the Panthers were at the fore again off the ice by being a founder member of the Superleague. The Superleague removed all wage and import caps and saw massive spending in the sport. However the Panthers could not keep up and in 1997 the team was sold to Neil Black whose tight fiscal policies saved the Panthers but that did not lead to much success. However in 2000 the Panthers moved the short distance from the Ice Stadium to the new National Ice Center.
When the Superleague collapsed in 2003 the Panthers became a founder member of the EIHL. The Elite League era has seen an upsurge in their fortunes winning the Challenge Cup in 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2011 as well as the playoff title in 2007 and 2011. However the elusive league title is still missing from the trophy cabinet.
This season has again seen the Nottingham Panthers be a front-runner in the EIHL league table and have made the Challenge Cup Final. However there is little doubt that the title they and their fans really want is the league title. As one fan put it recently for the Nottingham Panthers winning the league title will be like the New York Rangers winning the Stanley Cup in 1994.
League Championships 1950–51, 1953–54, 1955–56
Playoff Championships 1988–89, 2006–07, 2010–11
Autumn Cups 1955–56, 1986–87, 1991–92, 1994–95, 1996–97, 1998–99
Challenge Cups 2003–04, 2007–08, 2009–10, 2010–11
BLUELINER HOCKEY TRAVEL GUIDE – Nottingham
http://www.panthers.co.uk/ – Nottingham Panthers website
http://tcwfanzine.wordpress.com/ – The Cats Whiskers Fans Fanzine