Vincent Viola a.k.a. New York businessman Vinnie Viola is about to become the owner of the Florida Panthers. The deal believed to be worth $250 million will give Viola sole ownership of the franchise and could close as early as Thursday or Friday. The NHL Board of Governors' approval has already been determined and league owners are eager to welcome Viola to their exclusive club. The $250 million sale price does not include the arena - which is county owned but managed by the hockey team. Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will likely be among the most excited when this transaction closes as he and his management team have faced many challenges in trying to keep the team competitive on a rather paltry budget. And once Tallon has full ownership clearance expect veteran goaltender Tim Thomas to sign with the Panthers. If the deal comes together in time it's possible Thomas could make his preseason debut against Tampa Bay on Thursday night. So far the Panthers have been impressed by Thomas' work ethic and although he's untested by game action Thomas seems to still possess the quick reflexes and timing he relied on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2011 as a key member of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.