The Florida Panthers suffer a blow as Marcel Goc decides to return to Germany in the face of the NHL lockout. This should be a nice homecoming for the German native but Goc's departure leaves yet another hole in the Panthers' depth chart.
Goc will skate this season with Alder Mannheim of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's premier hockey league. Goc has roots with Alder. He played for the team during the 2002-03 season and his younger brother Nikolei Goc is currently a defenseman there.
Goc's German Roots
Goc has played in North America for the past seven years but has always maintained a connection with German hockey. He returned to Germany in 2006 to be a part of their Olympic team and has also participated with the German team in several World Championships.
The Panthers' Depth
When and if the NHL season starts, the Panthers may have a problem putting a decent team on the ice. The Cats aren't particularly deep at the center position to begin with and if Goc doesn't return his absence will leave a big hole in the center of the ice.
While the Cats have a large depth of talent at the center position, many of the guys are young and unproven in the NHL. The only other player who has any kind of NHL experience is Shawn Matthias, who is the heir apparent to the second line spot if Goc doesn't return.
The Panthers' Prospects
I have been anxious to see some of the Cats' top prospects in action in the NHL for a while but I'd rather see the team bring them up because Coach Kevin Dineen feels that they are ready to play in the NHL, not because the team is forced to because of problems related to the NHL lockout.
Goc will be joined in Mannheim by former Panther Dennis Seidenberg who also has a history with Alder. Seidenberg played with Alder during the 2001-02 campaign before coming to North America the next year.
Goc and Seidenberg aren't the first NHL players to decide to return to their home countries for the season. Several players such as NHL superstars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin have already taken the leap to back to their home countries.
Many of the players who are heading overseas will most likely return to the NHL once the lockout is over but there's no guarantee of that. The hemorrhage of top talent to other leagues only weakens the NHL at a time when they can't afford any more controversy.
More from this contributor:
Information on Goc and Seidenberg's signings from NBC Sports
All roster and depth chart information form FloridaPanthers.com
All player history information from TSN.ca
Information on tickets and schedules 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
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