Roughly four months ago John Madden was lacing up his skates in the Florida Panthers locker room, getting ready to square off in game seven of the first round against his former club, the New Jersey Devils. Shortly into the contest, Madden would collide with fellow linemate Tomas Kopecky and made his way off the ice, needing repairs. He would return, face cut and bruised, and play in a hard-fought game that would eventually end in double overtime and an early playoff exit for the Panthers.
Fast forward to September and Madden has been named to the Montreal Canadiens‘ amateur player recruitment group. His responsibilities will include scouting the undrafted players at the college hockey level for the Canadiens.
At the age of 39, whether there’s a lockout or not, this is a sign that Madden’s playing days are just about finished. A number of former Panthers have taken similar jobs, whether in Florida or throughout the league, and all of them have eventually announcing their retirement. The most recent prior to Madden was former Florida captain Bryan McCabe (manager of player development) who joined another former captain, Brian Skudland (director of player development), on the Panthers staff. Eventually McCabe announced his retirement, stating that he was “done,” and he planned on making South Florida his permanent home.
Madden was one of the top defensive players in the league in his prime, winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2001, and he was also a finalist for the same award in 2003 and 2004. He was brought in partway through last season to help a lineup that was suffering from injuries and, despite being scratched some nights, he remained on the roster steadily after players returned from injury. This showed that he had earned his spot.
While he wasn’t in Florida that long, those who have known him through his career here should admit that he will be missed, not only for his defensive play but for the leadership he brought to the team.
Montreal made a good move hiring Madden. With the experience he has in the league, one would think he could easily spot talent that some may have missed.