It’s official. The Florida Panthers announced today that Ed Jovanovski will be their new captain.
Jovanovski replaces former captain Bryan McCabe who was traded to the New York Rangers in February 2011. He later retired. Stephen Weiss, who was one of four alternate captains last season, and Brian Campbell will serve as this season’s alternates.
A 17 year NHL veteran, Jovanovski began his career with the Panthers in 1995. He then went on to split time between the Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes before returning home, with the Panthers signing him to a four-year contract in 2011.
Jovanovski was very productive during his early career in the 90’s, ranking fifth in games played (319) and sixth in points (96) all-time among Panther defenseman . He also was the 1996 Calder Memorial Trophy runner-up and helped lead the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Finals that same year. However last season, his first back in Sunrise, Jovanovski only produced 13 points and a minus-11 rating. Much of this was because he played in only 66 games due to injuries. (Source: Florida Panthers)
While fans are a bit skeptical about this choice Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen praised Jovanovski, saying his experience and personality were key in making the final decision. His teammates are also happy with the decision made it seems, as Scottie Upshall posted the following on his Twitter account:
“Congrats Jovo on the ‘C’. Wears his heart on his sleeve & plays the game the right way. We couldn’t have a better guy leading us this year!”
Jovanovski, the seventh captain in team history, said being named captain was special. He then went more in depth, telling Miami Herald reporter George Richards the following:
“I’ve been very fortunate to be an assistant captain throughout my career. To be a captain here is special. This is the team that drafted me. I began my career here. This is the team I’m looking to finish with.”
With a selection made the Panthers can now turn their attention toward tomorrow’s Opening Night, which will see them raise their 2011-12′ Southeast Division championship banner to the BB&T Center rafters. After that they will begin a new chapter, one the Panthers hope has Jovanovski again leading them back to glory.