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Edmonton air traffic control playfully tries to ‘divert’ Florida Panthers’ flight

Air traffic controllers at the Edmonton International Airport had a bit of good-humoured fun as the Florida Panthers’ flight from Fort Lauderdale came in for a landing Wednesday night.

A tropical disturbance that brought rare flash flooding to much of southern Florida delayed the Panthers’ trip to the Stanley Cup finals against the Edmonton Oilers.

Opting to spend an extra night in their own beds and skate at their Fort Lauderdale practice facility before flying to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4, the Panthers’ flight was delayed by storms in south Florida.

Their flight, scheduled to take off at 1 p.m. EDT, did not get off the ground until nearly 4:30 p.m., putting them on track to land at Edmonton International Airport after 8 p.m. MDT.

“We didn’t like the idea of getting them up (Tuesday) early enough to get in at a reasonable time in Edmonton,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “We did not see a value in it.”

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As Delta Airlines Flight 8948 descended to Edmonton International Airport on Wednesday night, an air traffic controller decided to have a little fun with the pilots.

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“I’ve got about a two-hour hold for you, or whatever it would take for you to be low enough afield that you’ll have to divert from Edmonton,” the controller said.

“And mention it to your passengers. Maybe they’ll figure it out.”

A short time later, he says: “Delta 8948, against my better judgment, when ready, descend.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Oilers back at home for Game 3 of Stanley Cup final'

Edmonton Oilers back at home for Game 3 of Stanley Cup final

After another five minutes, a second pilot, whose plane was coming in for a landing, asked air traffic control if they had the hockey scores.

In his response, the air traffic controller said the game was set for Thursday and that the Panthers were getting ready to land.

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“Maybe you could divert them,” the pilot said.

“I threatened them with a hold so they would have to divert, but I didn’t see them there,” air traffic control replied.

Game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup final takes place Thursday night. You can listen to the game live on 630 CHED. The Faceoff Show begins at 4 p.m., but the game starts at 6 p.m.

— With files from The Associated Press

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