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BEST PANTHERS PLAYER

This award wasn't about to go to Pavel Bure, that's for sure, even if the Panthers hadn't traded the sulking Russian wingman to the Rangers in exchange for -- for, well, absolutely nothing. Bure's simmering discontent affected the whole team and kept the Panthers from seriously improving. Now, with him gone, the squad can build around its strengths, the most promising of which is Luongo. The one and only time the Panthers achieved success, including a trip to the Stanley Cup finals, was when a solid goaltender anchored a team of workmanlike scrappers. The goalie back then was named Vanbiesbrouck. Now, at the start of an era free of plastic rats raining down on the ice, Luongo is positioned to shine.


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