First Panthers president Torrey passes away at 83

Former Panthers President Bill Torrey. (Sun-Sentinel)

Bill Torrey, the original president of the Florida Panthers and longtime front office member of the franchise, died Wednesday evening at his home in West Palm Beach. He was 83 years old.

Torrey was one of the most recognizable faces around the team since its inception in 1993-94, noted for his trademark bow tie and his leadership of the franchise that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996.

“We’re shocked and heartbroken by the news of William ‘Bill’ Torrey’s passing and extend our deepest condolences to his four sons and grandchildren,” Panthers owner Vinnie Viola said in a statement. “An original Panther and the forefather of our franchise, Mr. Torrey had a champion’s spirit and lived for the game. His indomitable energy and his commitment to hockey and to South Florida was inspiring. It was an honor to work with him and know him.”

Most recently, Torrey worked as a special advisor to Panthers general manager Dale Tallon.

“Bill was a giant of our game,” Tallon said in a statement. “He was the architect of a dynasty, a Hockey Hall of Famer and most importantly, a committed family man. I’m heartbroken by the news of his passing. Bill was a mentor and a dear friend who was instrumental in bringing me to South Florida to work alongside him.

“He was a wonderful person who never lost his passion for the game and loved being at the rink. I am proud to have worked with him and I will always be grateful for his support and friendship. He was a legend and the original Panther. I send my deepest condolences to his family and many friends. Bill’s tremendous legacy will never be forgotten.”

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