Moment number five in our countdown focused on a night that honored one of the legends of the game, Jaromir Jagr. The next favorite event of ours from the 2014-2015 season puts the spotlight on a Panthers legend who returned to Vancouver for the first time since being traded back to Florida. It is not every day that a packed arena in Western Canada cheers for a visiting team, but that just goes to show how special Roberto Luongo is to Canucks fans.
#4 – Louuuuu Returns To Vancouver
On June 24th, 2006 the Florida Panthers completed one of the worst trades in NHL history, shipping all-star goaltender Roberto Luongo, defenseman Lukas Krajicek, and a sixth round pick to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Todd Bertuzzi, goalie Alex Auld, and d-man Bryan Allen. Luongo would go on to play the better part of seven seasons with the Canucks, which included a trip to the Stanley Cup finals, while Bertuzzi only competed in seven games for the Panthers. Goaltender Alex Auld was also a bust for Florida, as he lost the starting job to veteran Ed Belfour. It would take almost eight years before the Cats could right the wrong they made back in 2006.
The Panthers would correct the biggest mistake they ever made on March 5th, 2014, by reacquiring Roberto Luongo from the Canucks for goaltender Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias. This was a trade Canucks fans were not to pleased with, because just like in South Florida, Luongo became a fan favorite during his time in Vancouver. “Bobby Lou” would not return to Rogers Arena until January 8th, 2015, and he received the ovation he deserved.
Luongo was cheered all night, even when he would stop the home team players from scoring. Chants of “Louuuuu” were shouted by the fans, to the point that it sounded like a Panthers home game. “They were cheering me on all night, it was pretty cool” Said Luongo. Roberto and the Cats would get the best of the Canucks on that night, winning 3-1.
Aside from the actual Florida Panthers making the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs there are a lot of former Cats on the other teams participating in the post-season. What is the point of bringing this up? During the 12 year’s without playoff hockey Panthers fans would use this time of year as an excuse to cheer on former members of the organization. Thankfully that is not the case this season as fans in South Florida finally have their club to cheer for in the final 16. Of course that does not mean we should completely forget about our team’s history, especially the bright spots (David Booth) in the dark 12 year’s without playoff action. To help bring back some memories, good or bad, we have compiled a complete list of former Panthers players currently playing for the other organizations in the post-season.
#1 New York Rangers:
#44 Steve Eminger – D, played 9 games for Florida during the 2008-2009 season.
#2 Boston Bruins:
#11 Gregory Campbell – C, was a member of the Panthers from 2003 to 2010.
#18 Nathan Horton – RW **, drafted 3rd overall by Florida in 2003.
#44 Dennis Seidenberg – D, Traded to Boston from Florida on March 3rd, 2010.
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins:
No former Panthers on Pittsburgh’s active roster.
#5 Philadelphia Flyers:
#6 Andreas Lilja – D, played in 135 games for the Panthers.
#6 New Jersey Devils:
#18 Steve Bernier – RW, spent the 2010-2011 season in South Florida, registering 15 points in 68 games.
#20 Ryan Carter – C, started this season with the Cats before being claimed off of waivers.
#7 Washington Capitals:
#29 Tomas Vokoun – G, was the Panthers #1 goaltender for four seasons before signing with Washington.
#6 Dennis Wideman – D, picked up 9 goals in one season with Florida.
#8 Ottawa Senators:
#41 Craig Anderson – G, a definite fan favorite during three year’s in Sunrise, FL.
#35 Alex Auld – G, part of the blockbuster trade that sent Luongo to the Canucks.
#17 Filip Kuba – D, played only 18 games in two year’s with the Panthers.
#1 Vancouver Canucks:
#4 Keith Ballard – D, still famous in South Florida for his hip check on Evgeni Malkin.
#34 Byron Bitz – RW, was injured during the majority of his time with Florida.
#7 David Booth – LW, spent six year’s with the Panthers before being traded at the start of this season.
#20 Chris Higgins – LW, another member of the 2010-2011 “blueprint” squad.
#1 Roberto Luongo – G, a member of the Cats for five seasons before being dealt to Vancouver.
#2 St. Louis Blues:
No former Panthers on St. Louis’ active roster.
#3 Phoenix Coyotes:
#13 Ray Whitney – LW, was on Florida’s roster the last time the team made the playoffs.
#4 Nashville Predators:
No former Florida players on the Predators active roster.
#5 Detroit Red Wings
#44 Todd Bertuzzi – RW, traded to Detroit for Shawn Matthias in 2007.
#6 Chicago Blackhawks:
#67 Michael Frolik – RW, drafted by Florida in the 2006 entry draft.
#5 Steve Montador – D, played as a d-man and forward during his three year’s with the Panthers.
#7 San Jose Sharks:
#22 Dan Boyle – D, stayed in South Florida for four seasons and played in 129 games for the Cats.
#18 Dominic Moore – C, NHL journeyman that spent one season in Florida.
#8 Los Angeles Kings
LA does not have any former Panthers on their active roster.
** indicates currently injured players
That makes for a total of 23 players that played for the Florida Panthers at one time during their careers. Some, like Roberto Luongo and David Booth, had a bigger impact on the Panthers history than others, but the fans in South Florida still appreciate the time those men gave to their favorite hockey team.
Do not forget to tune into game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals match-up between the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils. Tonight’s game will be a good one, especially since the series in now tied 1-1 after Florida’s win on Sunday, their first in 15 year’s. Coverage begins at 7:00 PM EST on the NHL Network.