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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Panthers purchased; Thomas signs contract

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SUNRISE, Fla. -- Vincent Viola grew up in Brooklyn, graduated from West Point, is a former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and after the Sept. 11 attacks founded a centre devoted to combating terrorism.

He's now the new owner of the Florida Panthers, said a person familiar with the situation.

Viola will be introduced in that role today after paying $250 million to buy the NHL franchise, the person said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the terms have not been made public. The Panthers scheduled a news conference today to discuss ownership, but confirmed no other details.

Completing the sale will have an immediate effect on the on-ice product, at least in one respect. The move cleared the way for the team to complete the signing of two-time Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas, a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender who took last season off before deciding that he wanted to return. The Panthers announced Thursday evening that Thomas signed a one-year deal.

Thomas has been with the Panthers on a tryout deal, and it was believed that the team was waiting for the ownership change to be completed before wrapping up his signing.

"Tim is a proven winner who we are pleased to have signed," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. "He is a fierce competitor who brings to our club a wealth of experience including a Stanley Cup Championship, two Vezina trophies and a Conn Smythe. He is a hardworking, driven and dedicated individual who will help our club achieve future success."

Viola will replace Cliff Viner, a longtime Panthers fan who became a co-general partner of the team in 2009 and took over as general partner, chairman and CEO the following year.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 27, 2013 C5

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