The Florida Panthers have a spotty history of team captains. The team spent last year without anyone wearing a "C" on their sweater and also went without a captain in the 2008-09 season. The Cats' most prolific captain to date has been Olli Jokinen who led the team from 2003 to 2008. There are several players on the squad that deserve the honor.
Nothing like starting with the obvious choice. Weiss has a long history with the Cats. He was selected by the Panthers in the first round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and has been with the Cats ever since. It's not just Weiss' longevity that makes him a good leader. He's the team's perennial first line center and always ranks among the top Panthers players in goals and assists. Last season Weiss ranked second on the team in total points, second is assists, and third in goals. He is Mr. Consistency and is an obvious leader on the ice.
Campbell is the kind of guy who leads by example. If the Panthers were looking for a class act, they found one in this guy. Campbell doesn't have as lengthy of a resume with the team as Weiss but he has made the most of his short time in South Florida and emerged as one of the team's leaders. Campbell is a defenseman but still ranked among the team's top point scorers last season. Aside from his ability as an assist man, Campbell played in a team-high 82 games last season and seemed to always be on the ice anchoring the defense.
If it's pure flash you're looking for then Versteeg would be your man. Versteeg was a pure point scoring machine last season when he had a career year with 54 points in 71 games played. Versteeg is an integral part of the Panthers' scoring machine and with a new long-term contract under his belt; he makes a good candidate to wear the "C" on his sweater.
In the honorable mentions category for the Panthers' captain is Tomas Fleischmann, who put up similar numbers to Versteeg last year and skated in more games. Like Versteeg, Fleischmann hasn't been around in Sunrise for too long but his level of play commands a little respect.
A hockey team doesn't really need a captain. The badge that player's wear on the front of their sweaters is a symbolic representation of how their teammates and coaches feel about them. If the Cats were to elect a captain for the upcoming season I would imagine that Steven Weiss would be the obvious choice because of his long-standing consistency with the team. Although unnecessary, the tradition of the "C" is something that is enjoyed by players and fans alike.
More from this contributor:
All statistics from Yahoo! Sports
Team captain history from FloridaPanthers.com
Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein
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