Florida Panthers draw inspiration from unlikely source: rugby

SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - The Florida Panthers are drawing their inspiration from a unique source: a New Zealand rugby team.

The ritual takes place in the Panthers’ locker room, where the player of the game spikes a rugby ball after a win.

“It means you played a good game,” said Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau. “It’s nice to get to spike [the] ball because it means we win some games.”

The reason for the new ritual comes from the five-time champion New Zealand All Blacks, who have an 80 percent all-time record. Panthers head coach Bob Boughner said the book “Legacy: What the All Black can teach us about the business of life” documents the team and its traditions.

“There’s obviously a reason for their success,” said Boughner. “If you dig deep in the book and you read, it’s all about culture and identity, and I thought that’s what the team could use more than anything.”

The entire team received a copy of the book, and words like “integrity” and “honesty” can be found on the walls of the locker room.

“With the culture that they have, everyone kind of bought in and understood where that came from,” said Panthers forward Colton Sceviour. “You’re always looking for something to give out for play of the game, so to have something to tie back into the winning culture we have here, it was a perfect fit.”

Another trait the Panthers’ head coach hopes to employ? Toughness.

“Part of that identity is being a tough team, and I mean a tough team to play against,” said Boughner. “I think if you listen around the league — now we’re in game number 51 and 52 coming up here — you see what other people think of us, and I think that’s an improvement.”

However, the All Blacks’ pre-game ritual — what is called the haka — is an aspect of the team the Panthers have yet to copy.

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