The speculation of Captain Ed Jovanovski’s future with the Florida Panthers has been laid to rest. As a player at least. The veteran defenceman who came back to South Florida in 2011 after beginning his career with the Panthers in 1994, has been placed on buyout waivers. Jovanovski signed a four-year contract with the Panthers in 2011, and the Panthers will buy out the final year of that deal. Jovo was to earn $4 million this season with a $4.125 million dollar cap hit.
His return to the Panthers in 2011 was met with signficant joy, yet unfortunately for the rugged and very determined veteran defenceman, injuries and his grinding style of play finally caught up with him. Last season Jovo came back from a major hip operation, that not many would have attempted. He was limited to 37 games after being activated in January and had 5 points and 39 penalty minutes.
Jovo was brought back to help the Panthers younger players such as Erik Gudbranson, and provide leadership both on the ice and in the dressing room. Jovo did what he could, but his body may no longer be able to keep up, at least at the pace that he was playing at.
Jovanovski achieved a number of accolades throughout his career including, being named to the all rookie team in 1995-1996, an Olympic Gold Medal in 2002, and five NHL All-star appearances. He was one of the major contributors during the Panthers cinderella playoff run in 1996.
Jovo earned the nickname “Jovo Cop” early in his career when he leveled players like Eric Lindros, among many other prominent players. Upon his return to the Panthers in 2011, he showed that he still had that edge in him as displayed by this crushing blow to Linus Omark of the Buffalo Sabres: Poor kid.
This was certainly a difficult decision for Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers. It’s never easy to tell a player with Jovanovski’s determination and heart that his time is up. Whether Jovo stays with the Panthers in another capacity or moves on remains to be seen.
I would personally like to thank and congratulate Ed Jovanovski for his contributions to the Florida Panthers during his career. He should always be remembered for his gritty style of play, his leadership skills both on and off the ice, and his dedication to the sport that he loved to play.
If this is indeed the end of the line, he has nothing to be ashamed of.
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