Deal among teammates prompts NHL sweater swap

June 6th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Christina De Nicola’s Marlins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MIAMI -- Marlins teammates and are hockey fans, so when their teams met up in the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Finals, they couldn’t help but make a friendly wager.

Luzardo, who was raised in Parkland, Fla., is a Florida Panthers fan. Cronin, who is from Glen Ridge, N.J., is a New York Rangers fan.

Luzardo would have to wear a Rangers jersey if New York won. Cronin would have to wear a Panthers jersey if Florida won.

“He was a good sport about it,” Luzardo had told the Bally Sports Florida broadcast on Sunday. “We'd have a little trash talk back and forth.”

The Panthers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second consecutive season by winning the series, 4-2, on Saturday night. Cronin held up his end of the deal by showing up to the ballpark prior to Wednesday’s game wearing Luzardo’s No. 44 Panthers red home jersey.

“Luckily, I warned them ahead of time that they might see some pictures that don't really show who I am deep inside,” Cronin told about what his family would think of the photos. “I'm sure I'll get a decent amount of flack from my buddies.”

Cronin stands at 6-foot-4, four inches taller than Luzardo, so the sleeves were a bit short. But they were perfect for the hot and humid Miami weather.

“It was a little snug but pretty good fit, and it's a nice sweater,” Cronin said. “A custom Jesús Luzardo? If I'm going to wear one, it doesn't get much better than that.”

Will Cronin root for the Panthers, who are vying for their first Stanley Cup in franchise history? They begin a best-of-seven-series with the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night at Amerant Bank Arena, which is about a 37-mile drive from loanDepot park in Sunrise, Fla.

“I don't know how that works,” Cronin said. “Maybe they like win our fandom? I don't really feel like rooting for them. I think it'd be cool to see the Oilers win, to be honest. I just love [Connor] McDavid so much, and it's been since like '93 that a Canadian team won, which is also kind of funny if they didn't. It's all good. I just hope it's a good series.”