After spending some time earlier this month speculating on why the Florida Panthers would trade their former franchise center Stephen Weiss, it seems as if things may be happening faster than expected as a soap opera is starting to unfold in South Florida.
After being one of the team’s top scoring options last season, Stephen Weiss has only managed to score 4 points (1G 3A) in 14 games this season while playing under the cloud his uncertain future. With the emergence of Jonathan Huberdeau, Drew Shore and Peter Mueller, Weiss has become somewhat of an after thought on a team that he was once the focal point of.
In an effort to revitalize the slumping Weiss, Coach Kevin Dineen opted to break up the team’s most successful line and pair him with productive forwards Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller. After just a few shifts it was clear that the experiment was a failure and than sacrificing the team’s best line in order to wake up Weiss was clearly not the answer.
By the end of the game Weiss found himself on the team’s fourth line and only saw 1:14 of ice time spread out over two shifts. His limited role was clearly not the result of injury, but rather a sign that Dineen was clearly fed up with the lackadaisical effort he had been seeing over the past few games, if not the entire season.
When asked about the benching during post game interviews, Dineen had this to say:
“You know what, that was to do myself a favor. I think for the last year and a half, I’ve looked down if we are a man short or, on the power play or whatever I need, I’m always looking at that number. So, that made it made much easier for me to have him sitting there and not part of the equation with the quality of hockey he’s playing right now.” – Dineen told Erin Brown of Rinkside.net
Considering that Weiss – along with several other Panthers – have shown questionable enthusiasm and effort in recent games, it was nice to see Dineen show some fire rather than giving the traditional ”we need to play better as a team” speech.
The question now is what does the team do with the most tenured skater in Florida Panthers’ history?
Sadly, the Panthers are the ones suffering the most during this saga. Weiss’ performance is not only hurting the team on the ice, but also hurting his trade value if the team hopes to ship him out before the April 3rd trade deadline. After seeing that line shuffling didn’t work, perhaps the only solution to re-ignite Weiss’ fire would be to scratch him for a game or possibly even strip him of his alternate captaincy.
Although there is still a group of Weiss supporters among the Panther faithful, a large group of fans can now be heard criticizing Weiss via numerous social media networks and it seems that most are fed up at this point. It’s sad that it looks as if Weiss’ career in Florida may end in mudslinging rather than in an honorable fashion, but that’s hockey and not everything can have a fairy tale ending.