If you haven’t noticed, the Florida Panthers are playing some good, tough hockey. Their win over the Penguins last night showed that they’re a team that will keep finding a way to hang around and make things happen and the guy at the heart of it all is Stephen Weiss.
Weiss is the team’s former first-round pick and the one star on the team that didn’t come from out of town. With the team playing well and on the rise and without a captain, it’s time to reward Weiss for time served with some terrible Panthers teams and to be the true face of the franchise.
Coach Kevin Dineen tells the Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov that Weiss is the guy driving play for the team and carrying the load offensively and defensively. I don’t know about you guys, but that sure sounds like the play of a captain to me.
The Panthers are the only team in the NHL without a team captain after Colorado put the “C” on Milan Hejduk. While Dale Tallon and Dineen wanted to see how the host of new players fit in place in Florida before figuring out who the captain would be, the choice has been obvious all along. Rewarding the one guy who’s survived as the team’s lone career Panther makes too much sense to not do it.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Taylor Hall is slumping and it’s his second season in the NHL. What do they call those things again…? (Edmonton Journal)
Calgary’s Paul Byron would like it if the Sabres stopped holding his first NHL goal puck hostage from last season when he was a Sabre. Tough crowd in Buffalo, eh? (Senators Extra)
Make it 6-8 weeks for Scottie Upshall to be out of the Panthers lineup. That didn’t seem to bother them last night thumping Dallas 6-0. (TSN)
The Ducks have their fingers crossed that Niklas Hagman can find his game and help the Ducks snap out of their losing ways. Good luck on both accounts there. (L.A. Times)
NHL concussion numbers are down so far this year? Apparently so. (Toronto Sun)
Scoring first could make all the difference in the upcoming Ducks-Kings home-and-home series. (L.A. Kings Insider)
New Jersey’s Adam Larsson doesn’t think Milan Lucic was gunning for him specifically last night. Don’t tell the Sabres that though. (The Star-Ledger)
Kerry Fraser says diving is still happening and officials can solve that by calling the penalty. Why wasn’t he this vocal when he was a referee? (TSN)
The Sharks are good but they want to get better in the faceoff circle. Just let superhero Joe Pavelski handle this. (CSNBayArea.com)
Former Panther Radek Dvorak says that Stephen Weiss should be Florida’s next captain. But that would make sense, Radek. (Sun Sentinel)
Finally, check out the kick save and a beauty by Rangers defenseman Michael Sauer to help bail out Henrik Lundqvist. (NHL)
It’s none other than Milan Hejduk.
The Avalanche started the season going without a team captain waiting for the season to flesh out a bit and see how things went. Instead of going for a guy like Paul Stastny or aiming for youth with Matt Duchene, they’ve opted to go with the current longest-standing member of the organization in Hejduk.
Hejduk gets the “C” after Adam Foote wore it last season. Foote, of course, was a long time Avalanche defenseman who returned to Denver after spending time away in Columbus. Hejduk has only worn the “A” in the past but now takes the leadership role but Joe Sacco says that Hejduk is the guy that leads by example on and off the ice for the team.
Now if Hejduk has the skills to help the Avs prevent another early season meltdown that leads the Avs to the bottom of the NHL standings, he’ll be worth his merit. As it is, the Avalanche are giving up their first round pick in 2012 to the Capitals thanks to the Semyon Varlamov trade so failure is not be an option.
With the Avalanche naming a captain finally, that leaves the Florida Panthers as the only captainless team in the league. They should probably just name Jason Garrison’s slap shot the team captain there, that’s a force worth paying attention to.
Being a captain in the NHL is a special designation that requires that player to be the face of the team and lead the way on and off the ice. Since the Florida Panthers are basically a brand new team after their offseason of madness, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that they’re going without a captain to start the year.
Instead of going with one team captain, they’re going with four guys wearing the alternate captain’s “A” on their sweater. Panthers lifer Stephen Weiss, one time former Panther Ed Jovanovski, and new Panthers Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky will all wear the “A” this season leading us to wonder… Kopecky?
All right so the Panthers’ makeover this summer basically meant something like this was going to happen. Stephen Weiss and David Booth being the two “faces” of the team weren’t able to do much for their cases for wearing the “C” but at the least, Weiss maintains his status. Coach Kevin Dineen doing things his way means he wants to see who out of that bunch steps up and takes control of the room. The smart money would be on Weiss or Jovanovski to be those guys.
If you handicapped who you thought would end up wearing the captain’s “C” in Buffalo this season, where would you have Jason Pominville in your rankings? We didn’t have him as a thought at all when analyzing the vacant captaincy last month but that just goes to show we’re a bunch of jerks hammering stuff out on a keyboard in our mother’s basement.
While Buffalo is kicking off their season in Europe, they announced that Jason Pominville will be the team’s new captain. The Sabres’ previous captain was Craig Rivet last season before Rivet was waived out of town. Helping Pominville shoulder the load and the expectations in Buffalo will be four alternate captains: Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford, Paul Gaustad, and Derek Roy.
All five players have been with the Sabres their whole career and given what they’re trying to do in Buffalo now with Terry Pegula’s money helping attract new blood, the stakes are higher than ever in Buffalo and the fans are eager to see the Sabres run deep into the playoffs.
Pominville’s best leadership can come to Buffalo by getting back to being a 30-goal threat this season. Five seasons ago, Poinville potted 34 goals. Since then he’s been a steady 20-25 goal per season guy. Getting those goal numbers to jump would go a long way to helping the Sabres succeed. With the crew of forwards Buffalo has, however, scoring shouldn’t be too much of a problem this season.