Last week, the Florida Panthers original president Bill Torrey passed away in his house in West Palm Beach, Florida during the evening of May 2nd, 2018. Torrey is one of the founding fathers of the team and I think it is fitting to give him a memorial article. However he won’t be alone in this one. Two months after having his lucky number 37 retired, Panthers original owner Wayne Huizenga died from cancer on March 22nd, 2018. When the Panthers retired their first number which was 93 it was honored after Torrey. This is a subject that I don’t know how to write well so feedback will be very much appreciated from others. Let’s celebrate the lives of these two men
Harry Wayne Huizenga was born on December 29th, 1937. He was the first child in a family of garbage haulers. At the age of 16, him and his family moved to Fort Lauderdale. After graduating from Calvin College, Huizenga spent five years taking on low wage jobs while also serving in the US Army Reserves for 6 months. In 1962, Huizenga started his own garbage hauling company called the Southern Sanitation Service. He did this with a $5,000 loan from his dad and buying used trucks. In 1968, despite only having a single truck Huizenga started Waste Management Inc. Waste Management Inc. was able to purchase many independent garbage hauling companies. In 1972, Waste Management Inc. became a public company and slowly became a Fortune 500 company.
In 1984 he left Waste Management and bought several Blockbuster Video stores. Using the same management tools he developed at WM, he made Blockbuster the biggest video rental company in the Us by 1994. Huizenga also started the AutoNation Company.
Huizenga was also well known in Miami sports. Huizenga was the man that started the Florida Panthers and Florida now Miami Marlins. He also owned the Dolphins for a while.
Huizenga’s legacy will be that he was a great businessman. He knew how to bring companies to the top and how to maximize his own profit. He was a genius. When his companies were at their peaks, he would sell them for maximum profit. Although this did make him somewhat controversial, Huizenga is one of the greatest business geniuses to ever live.
William “Bill” Arthur Torrey was born on June 23rd, 1934 in Montreal. Torrey played youth hockey but had to stop after he was hit in the left eye with a hockey stick, breaking his orbital bone and causing him to lose depth perception. After a brief stint as the GM of the Oakland Seals, Torrey became the GM of the expansion team New York Islanders.
With the Islanders, Torrey bode his time preferring to build through the draft rather than acquire veteran players. In 1973, Torrey drafted Denis Potvin first overall. The Canadiens offered several veteran players in exchange for Potvin which could’ve made the Islanders contenders right away. Torrey declined. Torrey also drafted Mike Bossy who is arguably one of the best snipers to ever play the game. Torrey was a genius at drafting. 5 hall of famers during the Islanders 4 cups in 4 years run were drafted by Torrey including Potvin, Bossy, Pat LaFontaine, Clark Gillies and Bryan Trottier. Torrey spent 20 years as the Islanders GM until he was forced to resign after LaFontaine demanded a trade.
Torrey was named the first president of the expansion Florida Panthers in 1993. He built the Panthers similar to the Islanders by getting young talent such as Rob Niedermayer, Ed Jovanaski, Radek Dvorak and Rhett Warrener. The Panthers went to the cup finals in 1996 but lost. In 2001, Torrey retired and served as a special adviser until his death.
Bill Torrey revolutionized the NHL. He showed that building through the draft can turn into success when others didn’t believe it at the time. Torrey was the modern GM in the old era. Torrey’s legacy will be felt for years to come.