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Panthers to introduce new owner Friday, expected to sign Tim Thomas

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

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The Florida Panthers have called a press conference for Friday and they aren't leaving much to the imagination. It's being billed as an ownership news conference by the team.

By now the cat is out of the bag (no pun intended), the Panthers have been sold, purchased by New York investor and former part-owner of the NBA's Nets Vinny Viola. He will be announced as the new owner of the franchise as the purchase moved quickly and has been apparently wrapped up.

Viola is buying the franchise from former season-ticket holder Cliff Viner. Not only is buying Viner's share but according to the Miami Herald's George Richards, he's buying out all of the other part-owners of the team as well.

There have been rumblings for about a year that the Panthers were up for sale so here we are. Keep in mind, the sale of the franchise also includes acquiring Sunrise Sports and Entertainment, which has a much larger scope than just running the hockey franchise. That would explain why the reported sale price is up at $230 million, much higher than some of the other recent transactions we've seen despite the poor attendance numbers in Florida.

What remains to be seen is if the investment in the team will change in Florida or not. At least we know it can't really go down as the Panthers have been a team that lives near the salary floor over the years.

Also, that might not be the only announcement the Panthers make on Friday, they could also introduce new goaltender Tim Thomas as an official member of the team.

Thomas was brought into camp on a PTO but hasn't appeared in a game yet. That's apparently because he didn't have a contract so once he gets that signed and is introduced, you can expect that he'll play in the Panthers' final preseason game on Saturday against the Lightning.

 
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