The Florida Panthers got a big win on Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets, as all three players on their roster who were members of the 2009-10 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks were among the team’s goal scorers in the 6-3 victory. This trio of players was instrumental in the Panthers’ return to the playoffs last season, and they continue to contribute for the team on a nightly basis.
Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and Kris Versteeg were all crucial pieces of the Blackhawks team that season, and have now reunited in the Sunshine State. Each came to the Panthers in a separate transaction – Campbell was traded for Rotislav Olesz in 2011, Kopecky was traded that same offseason for a draft pick and Versteeg was traded to Florida by the Philadelphia Flyers after a stint with them and one with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Campbell, the 2011-12 Lady Byng Trophy winner, now has three goals and five points in seven games. After seeing his production fall in Chicago, the veteran defenseman took his game up a notch last season, scoring four goals and adding 49 assists. He took just three minor penalties all season, which helped him take home the Lady Byng, awarded to the league’s most gentlemanly player.
Versteeg has only played the past two games this season due to a groin injury, but has already started logging big minutes for the Panthers since returning to the lineup. He got his first goal of the season against the Jets and added an assist on Campbell’s power play goal in the second period.
Kopecky had 10 goals and 21 points for the Blackhawks in 2009-10, then had the best season of his career following the Stanley Cup win. His 15 goals and 42 points in 2010-11 were a career high, and he came close to matching those numbers last season with the Panthers. He has two goals and four points in seven games this season, good for sixth on the team.
As the Panthers try and regroup from a rough start to the season, the winning experience of these veteran players will be helpful – a trip back to the playoffs isn’t out of the question if these three former Blackhawks can continue producing.