Florida Panthers Facebook Florida Panthers Twitter Florida Panthers Google+ Florida Panthers Pintrest Florida Panthers Instagram Florida Panthers
  • RSS

Weiss Excited For Stanley Cup Playoffs Debut

Thursday, 04.12.2012 / 5:02 PM ET / Features
By Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent
Share with your Friends

Weiss Excited For Stanley Cup Playoffs Debut

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- All those years of watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs on television were tough on Stephen Weiss, but nothing was as painful as last year.

When Boston beat Vancouver in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final last June, Weiss had to watch as longtime teammates Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell celebrated the Bruins' championship.

"That was difficult," Weiss said. "I was one of the happiest guys for them for sure, but at the same time [not long] before that they're sitting beside you in your hotel room and you see them out there holding the Stanley Cup, it's tough to swallow. There was a little bit of extra fire burning in the belly over the summer to train harder and get to this point now."

"This point" is the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and for the first time in a career that began in April 2002, Weiss is a part of it.

After playing 637 games, Weiss finally will get to experience what playoff hockey is all about when the Florida Panthers open their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New Jersey Devils Friday (7 p.m., NHLN-US, TSN) at BankAtlantic Center.


Forward thinking helps Devils' PK

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer
The Devils set a modern-day record for penalty-killing this season and led the League with 15 shorthanded goals -- largely in part to coach Peter DeBoer’s willingness to use his top forwards when down a man. READ MORE ›

"It's great for him," said veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who made the first of his eight playoff appearances as a rookie with the Panthers in 1996. "The excitement of playoff hockey is what we play for, and for him, 10 years being here and not seeing any of it, we're all as teammates excited for him and I'm sure he's ready to go."

Weiss has been ready to go since the Panthers clinched their first playoff berth since 2000 when the Buffalo Sabres lost at Philadelphia on April 5. Two nights later, the Panthers clinched the first division title in franchise history by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1.

When Weiss steps on the ice Friday, he will end the second-longest current playoff drought in the NHL. Former teammate Jay Bouwmeester, now with Calgary, has played 717 NHL games without experiencing the postseason.

Weiss is so grateful for this opportunity he made it a point to address his teammates in the dressing room after the regular-season finale.

"I wanted to say something to the guys, [but] I didn't know when," Weiss said. "There were a couple of times down the stretch when I wanted to say something, but I wanted to wait until the right moment and just thank the guys for coming in with the right attitude. We've had a lot of groups here over the last few years and I just felt like the weather and not being the biggest hockey market down here, it's tough sometimes. It's tough to come to the rink and really focus on playing the right way over an 82-game schedule, especially during the dog days of the season where it's tough to get up for games and practices sometimes, especially when the weather is so nice.

"I just wanted to thank the guys for doing a really good job and not losing sight of what we were trying to do this year. It meant a lot to me to get in, and the team, as well. All of it has to do mostly with the guys in the room. We're the ones that go out there and play and practice every day, and just all the new guys, I wanted them to know that meant a lot."

One of four alternate captains on the team, Weiss clearly is respected in the Florida dressing room. The newcomers who came to the team often spoke during the season of wanting to reach the playoffs, not only for themselves but mostly for Weiss.

"He's been here for so long and he's experienced, you know, some good times, but a lot of failure," said forward Kris Versteeg, who at the age of 25 already has 50 games of playoff experience, including in 2010 when he helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. "As a player he's probably [asked] himself whether he wanted to even be here, but now it's getting turned around and the ship is starting to go in the right direction and that's kind of what he talked about, too, and how he's excited about taking the next step and going forward with this.

"When I thought about it, you definitely think, what if I was in that situation and how hard it would be and mentally where would I be? He's a pretty strong dude, and you definitely do feel for him after experiencing some great things at a pretty young age."

Now it's Weiss' turn, along with teammates Shawn Matthias, Jason Garrison, Erik Gudbranson, Keaton Ellerby and Mike Santorelli, to experience playoff hockey for the first time.

Even though his only exposure has been what he's seen on television, Weiss says he has a pretty good idea what to expect.

"You definitely know what it's going to be like," he said. "It's going to be faster. Everything is amplified. Every shift is tighter. It's just a lot tighter. There's not a lot of ice out there. Playing for keeps now. It's just going to be a little bit harder in all areas. I'm looking forward to that."

Author: Alain Poupart | NHL.com Correspondent




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01

FloridaPanthers.com is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and floridapanthers.com are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd.
NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as a
ll other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.