“Funny. A bunch of times I’ve been striped of my powers… but in my mind, I was still The Flash. I wouldn’t ever let that go. This time, my powers are intact. It’s my identity that’s been revoked… and that makes all the difference.” -Flash Vol 2 77
On what may be the single most important day in the history of the Florida Panthers since December 10, 1992 (when Miami was awarded a NHL franchise), the Panthers made a series of moves to completely reshape their roster; an effort to end a decade of missing the playoffs. Eight players came to Florida, including 27 year old Czech forward Tomas Fleischmann.
Fleischmann played junior hockey for HC Vitkovice in the Czech Republic. Showing an ability to score, he was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2nd round, 63rd overall. Fleischmann desired to play in the NHL, so in order to get used to the North American game, he joined the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL for the 02-03 season. (Moose Jaw is where Quinton Howden has spent the last four seasons, scoring 40 goals and 79 total points this past year) Fleischmann proved to be a prolific scorer for the Warriors, accumulating 71 points in his first 65 games. The 03-04 season saw Fleischmann net 30 goals for the Warriors and on February 24, 2004 he was traded along with a 1st round pick in 04 and a 4th round pick in 06 to the Washington Capitals for Robert Lang.
Fleischmann spent 04-05 with the Capitals AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates. This was before Kevin Dineen would join the Pirates as head coach. He was not very productive as a Pirate, managing just 19 points in 53 games. The Capitals would change AHL affiliates for the 05-06 season, and Fleischmann became a member of the Hershey Bears. He had a fierce opening, 13 points in 10 games to earn his call up to the Capitals. He would return to the Bears to make a run at the Calder Cup after spending about a month up with the big club. The run was a success and Fleischmann helped the Hershey Bears win the Calder Cup, posting phenomenal numbers- 32 points in just 20 games.
On February 24, 2007 (three years after the trade from Detroit to Washington) Tomas Fleischmann beat Martin Brodeur to earn his first NHL goal. Although he played well in Washington, he was sent back down to help the Bears attempt another Calder Cup. The Hershey Bears would lose to the Hamilton Bulldogs, but not because of Fleischmann; who recorded 21 points in 19 games.
His first full year in the NHL was 07-08. Collecting 10 goals and 30 points total in 75 games. Fleischmann played two games in the postseason, but was not a factor as the Capitals didn’t make it past the quarterfinals. His numbers improved in his second full year, 19 goals in 73 games. Here is one of those goals.
After showing he could play at the NHL level, Fleischmann was on top of the world. It was there where it would all come crashing down. Fleischmann developed Deep Vein Thrombosis, a serious medical condition that nearly ended his career. It is believed that he developed the condition on his transatlantic flight back to the Czech Republic for the offseason.
He would miss the start of the 09-10 season, but came back firing on all cylinders. He tallied 51 points in 69 games, 23 goals solidified him as a top six forward. The next season with the Capitals saw a decline in his performance. Washington decided to make a move to improve their defense, trading Fleischmann to the Colorado Avalanche for Scott Hannan.
Tomas Fleischmann was extraordinary for the Avalanche, scoring 21 points in 22 games. He even recorded this hat trick. It came to an end when he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism that was a complication to his previous condition of Deep Vein Thrombosis. He would remain sidelined for the rest of the season.
On July 1st, 2011 the Panthers signed Tomas Fleischmann to a 4 year $18 million dollar contract. Fleischmann’s doctors have cleared him to play as long as he remains on his blood thinning medication. Kevin Allen (@kausatoday) of USA Today reported that he had spoken with Dale Tallon and Tallon remarked that Fleischmann’s health is not a concern, he is “ready to go.”
Tomas Fleischmann is a fantastic addition to the Florida Panthers. At 6′ 1″ 212 pounds he has the size to physically dominate. Tallon has said one of the reasons the Panthers played so poorly in the third period in the past, was that the forwards were not tough enough to handle a full 60 minutes of being pounded into the boards. Fleischmann can play Left Wing or Center, and is easily a top six forward in Florida. He could center a first line with David Booth and Kris Versteeg, or maybe he could fit somewhere else. There are many options. As predicted the opening day lineup will in no way resemble last season’s atrocity. I’m with many Panthers’ fans in saying that October can’t get here fast enough.
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Tags: Colorado Avalanche Czech Republic Dale Tallon David Booth Deep Vein Thrombosis Florida Panthers Hat Trick Kevin Allen Kevin Dineen Kris Versteeg Moose Jaw Warriors Portland Pirates Quinton Howden Robert Lang Scott Hannan Tomas Fleischmann Washington Capitals