April 26, 2012; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman Ed Jovanovski (55) handles the puck in the second period of game seven of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the New Jersey Devils at BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

Beyond the 'C': The Story of the Florida Panthers

Apr 21, 2012; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss shoots a rat down the ice after the Panthers 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils in game five of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals at BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE


The Florida Panthers were sort of an underdog team in the East this year. They, even though captainless, made it into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They were the 3rd seed, and faced the later Stanley Cup Finalists the New Jersey Devils. Even though they didn’t go past the first round, they made a huge impact on New Jersey, and forced a 7th game. Though they hadn’t won, they are just as likely to be there again next season. This is Beyond the ‘C’: The Story of the Florida Panthers.

Now I’m just going to cut down to the chase. I have four possibilities of who I think should be captain next year. These four are:

1)      Ed Jovanovski

2)      Brian Campbell

3)      Kris Versteeg

4)      Tomas Fleischmann

Ed Jovanovski- He started his career in Florida, and now that he has returned home, he is well fit for the position.

Brian Campbell- Even though he hasn’t been there long, he is a player with a lot of experience and who can really bring the spunk the team needs to the playoffs.

Kris Versteeg- Kris is such a great player. I love watching the way he moves and shoots the puck. He would be a perfect captain, always helping the little guy before himself.

Tomas Fleischmann- I see Tomas as a captain because he has some great points and can help the team through the playoffs as much as Brian Campbell can.

So who wins the race to be the next Florida captain? I’ll tell you who I think right after Editor’s Corner.

Editor’s Corner:

Frank Rekas is the NHL Director for Fansided and the editor for the Rat Trick. I suggest you all go and read what he has to say. He has real good stats and opinions not only about Florida, but the NHL in general. Here is his statement.

“This past season the Florida Panthers went the entire year without a captain.  Their previous captain, Bryan McCabe was traded at the deadline in 2011 by general manager Dale Tallon in what was the beginning of a house cleaning and salary purge for Florida.  When Dale brought in new head coach Kevin Dineen last year, Dineen felt that he needed time to evaluate the roster, and see which player came to the forefront as the leader.  With the addition of 13 new players last season, it appeared that Dineen had some quality choices to choose from, however he opted to go with three alternates the entire season.

Many felt that Ed Jovanovski who returned home to Florida, where he began his career would get the C.  Others felt that newly acquired Brian Campbell would get the honors.  Both players are solid choices, and one of them could emerge this year as the team leader.  There is a group of loyal Panther followers however that have been campaigning for center and long time Panther Stephen Weiss to be given the leadership role.  Many believe that since Weiss has played his entire 10 year career for the Cats, and has been through all the various rebuilds, and stuck around for all the face changes, that he deserved the honor.  When the Panthers made the playoffs last season for the first time in 12 years, it was felt that Weiss was finally rewarded for his loyalty to an organization that had spent more than a decade failing.

In my opinion however, the captaincy is not something that you give to someone for longevity.  It’s not a gold watch, or an expensive fountain pen that you give as a gift to your long time employee for his service.  Taking nothing away from Weiss, I don’t see him as captain material.  Meaning, I don’t see him as a player with the personality makeup either on the ice, or in the dressing room, where the role is meant for him.  I have seen him up close in both situations, and that’s what I use as my proof.  The other question is, does he even want it?

At this point I believe that coach Dineen, a former captain himself, will name one before the season starts. My best guess is that it will go to defenseman Ed Jovanovski, the grizzled veteran who leads not only by experience, but by example.  Jovo Cop as he’s known here in Florida, does so many things that don’t show up on the score sheet, and aren’t always noticeable during a game.  He’s respected, he’s vocal, and he’s like a coach on the ice.  He’s been assigned to taking young defenseman Erik Gudbranson under his wing, and we all literally watched the maturation of Big G last season, due to his partnership with Jovo.

Jovanovski has three years left on a four year contract.  I can certainly see him being the captain for two seasons, and then see the reigns being turned over to Gudbranson who even at a young age has the makeup of a leader, a winner, and a player who has the ability to gain the respect of his teammates……despite his youth. I’ve never been a fan of using rotating alternates, but with so much change last season, I understood it.

Now that the roster for the Panthers has somewhat settled down, and the players have put one year of time under their belt, it would be appropriate to let Jovo be the leader of the team.  Officially.”

I totally agree with Frank on Ed Jovanovski. Why is that? I’ll tell you why. There is only one difference between the four players I listed above. All four have just joined the team last season, but Ed has played here before. He knows how Florida likes to play and he would be really good at leading them to another playoff run next season. He knows how to feel around the Panther nation and how to react with them.

Closing Argument:

As I already stated, I think Ed Jovanovski would be best for the Panthers. Will they play another season without a captain? No one knows. It’s one of those only time will tell kind of things. You never know. Follow me on Twitter and get NHL updates and opinions I have about hockey.

Tags: FanSided Florida Panthers Hockey NHL Playoffs

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