By now most Panthers’ fans have heard the news that coach Kevin Dineen named veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski team captain at this morning’s practice in Sunrise. Other contenders for captaincy, Stephen Weiss and Brian Campbell, will remain as the team’s two alternate captains this season.
A fantastic locker room presence, Jovanovski is beloved by both fans and teammates alike and should flourish in his role as the 7th player to don the “C” in Florida Panthers’ history. However, while Jovanovski is a good choice for captain, it is possible that fellow defenseman Brian Campbell was potentially an even better option.
I am not going to get into statistical comparisons because let’s face it; the role of team captain is usually free of statistical bias and more a reflection of a players on ice leadership.
However, there is one stat that I do believe should have been factored in when deciding on who should have been the Panthers’ new team captain. Last season, Brian Campbell led the team in average time on ice with 26:53 TOI/G. Meanwhile, Ed Jovanovski was only clocking 16:41 TOI/G, just over 10 minutes less than Campbell per game.
Of all current NHL captains playing on defense, Jovanovski was the only one of them to record less than 20 TOI/G last season and most averaged around 25 TOI/G.
Brian Campbell has the ability to lead the team from the ice, whereas Jovanovski will have to do a lot of it from the bench and locker room, especially as his role becomes even more limited in the future.
In key situations for the Panthers this season, Jovanovski will most likely be on the bench, while Brian Campbell and Filip Kuba are on the ice for the team. It is odd to think you would name a player as captain knowing that he isn’t even one of your top 2-3 options at his position.
Even though he missed out this time, Brian Campbell may still be the Florida Panthers’ captain of the future. With Jovanovski hitting the tail end of his career and Campbell signed with the Panthers until 2016, he could very well be next in line to become captain after Jovanovski’s departure.
While he is currently under contract for the next three seasons, there is some speculation that this could be Jovanovski’s final season in Florida and that he will either retire or leave via buyout at season’s end. If this scenario does end up playing out, then naming Jovanovski captain this season is not only merited but inspiring. It will be interesting to see how the Panthers’ play this season with the fuel that this could be Jovanovski’s last shot at Stanley Cup glory.
Jovanovski will skate out onto to the ice for the first time as team captain this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. when the Panthers start their season at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. Fans can watch locally on FOX SPORTS Florida or through NHL Center Ice if available.