After missing 22 games with a lower-body injury, Ed Jovanovski made his return to the Florida lineup on Saturday against the Islanders.
It lasted all of two periods.
On Monday, the Panthers announced that Jovanovski re-aggravated his injury against the Isles and would be out for an undetermined length of time.
“Eddie is going to be out indefinitely,” Florida head coach Kevin Dineen told the Sun-Sentinel. “He’s had a recurring lower-body injury that he’s worked extremely hard to get healthy, and he’s not there yet.”
Jovanovski played 10:42 in the first two periods against New York on the weekend before being pulled for the third. He didn’t return to the contest.
The 36-year-old captain had been out of Florida’s lineup since taking a knee against Tampa Bay’s BJ Crombeen on Jan. 29.
Given his age and the fact the Panthers have little to play for this season (they enter Tuesday night’s action sitting dead last in the NHL) it’s very likely Jovanovski’s season could be over.
Maybe even his career.
Dineen was reluctant to address the idea — “that’s a hard comment for me right now,” he said — but it’s clear Jovanovski has some serious issues with his knee.
Retirement, though, may not be an option.
Jovanovski signed his four-year, $16.5 million deal with the Panthers at the age of 35, meaning Florida is on the hook for the entirety of his contract.
It’s shaping up to be one of the poorest contract decisions of Dale Tallon’s GM tenure in Florida.
While the Panthers were high on Jovanovski’s veteran presence and leadership abilities, he’s now missed 38 games to various injuries and has only mustered 3G-11A-14PTS in 72 games over two years.