Countdown 14: No. 5 Player To Watch; Ed Jovanovski
Saturday, 10.01.2011 / 4:48 PM / Countdown To Home Opener 2011
By Glenn Odebralski - FloridaPanthers.com
|Defenseman Ed Jovanovski makes a return to South Florida after signing a four-year contract on July 1.
Back on July 1, with the Panthers looking to overhaul a roster and team that finished 15th in the Eastern Conference, one of the first calls of the day went out to a familiar face. At least a familiar face in terms of Panthers history.
That player? Defenseman Ed Jovanovski.
The first overall pick in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft spent three and a half seasons in South Florida racking up 83 points in 253 games before being traded to Vancouver as part of a deal for sniper Pavel Bure.
Now after spending six and a half seasons in Vancouver and another five in Phoenix, the Windsor, On., native is back where he started.
"It's good. Florida, having started my career here, the fans were always great to me," said Jovanovski. "It was tough to leave a while ago but it's good to be back."
Signing a four-year contract on the first year of free agency, Jovanovski will be looked upon as a steady presence on the blueline and help mentor the young Cats defensemen of Dmitry Kulikov, Keaton Ellerby, Jason Garrison and possibly Mike Kostka and Erik Gudbranson.
Having played in over a thousand games (1,019 to be exact), Jovanovski has plenty to share with the young defensemen but he wasn't brought in just for that purpose. Having made the playoffs the last two seasons with Phoenix, Jovanovski is hoping to help be a part of a leadership group that leads the Panthers back to the playoffs.
"I think right now looking in the past. There's no point," said Jovanovski of the past ten years of no playoffs for the franchise. "The future is kind of the beginning of this franchise. I think everybody sees good things happening for this team."
With such an overhaul over the summer, Jovanovski will be looked upon to help the new additions and holdovers mesh. What should help is that he was here before and knows what it was like when the Panthers were the toast of the town.
"We have to come together and we have to come together quick," said Jovanovski. "That's what we have to strive for, make sure guys take care of each other, look out for each other and just build that comraderie right away."
BY THE NUMBERS
4 - Recorded four points in a game twice during his career with his most recent coming against Minnesota on January 16, 2010 (four assists).
6 - Scored double digit goals six different times during his 15-year career. Last accomplished the feat during the 2009-10 season (10) with Phoenix.
7 - Has picked up 549 penalty minutes in his time in South Florida, good enough for seventh most on the franchise list. Trails only Paul Laus (1,702), Peter Worrell (1,375), Scott Mellanby (953), Bill Lindsay (609), Robert Svehla (603) and Olli Jokinen (597).
51 - Recorded a career high 51 points during the 2007-08 season while playing in his second season in Phoenix.
253 - Played in 253 games for the Panthers before being traded to Vancouver. Total is good enough for 30th most on franchise list. Needs just 29 games to move into 20th place on list (Jody Hull - 281).