Back by popular demand (boredom actually), I take a look today at the history of Florida Panther players who have worn the number one. It’s a short list. Much shorter than I thought, and it hasn’t been used since 2006. The number one has been reserved for goaltenders, and in the early days of hockey it was typically worn by the team’s starting goaltender. There have been a number of famous players who’ve worn the single digit in the past, and will always be remembered for it. Since the list is rather short for the Panthers, let’s have a bit of a history lesson on the number one.
Prior to the 90’s players like Glenn Hall of the Chicago Black Hawks, Eddie Giacomin of the New York Rangers, and Glenn “Chico” Resch of the New York Islanders, Colorado Rockies and New Jersey Devils, all wore the number one. Of course no one will forget the first goalie to ever put on a mask, Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs, also wore it as well. For you younger readers, some of the better players, or at least more memorable that have worn number one since 2000 have included, Arturs Irbe of the Carolina Hurricanes, Ray Emery during his time with the Ottawa Senators, and Brent Johnson during his time with the Phoenix Coyotes, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
There have also been some infamous players that wore this special number as well. During the past decade, we’ve seen players such as Andrew Raycroft of the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche. Peter Mannino of the New York Islanders, who I actually saw in person, play an outstanding game against the Chicago Black Hawks (the only win of his career). And finally David Abeischer of the Colorado Avalanche and Phoenix Coyotes.
That concludes the walk down memory lane. For the Florida Panthers there have only been three netminders who have worn number one, and heeeeeereeeeee they are:
Kevin Weekes: Kevin was drafted in the second round by the Florida Panthers in the 1993 draft. Taken 41st overall, the soon to become well traveled netminder played in only 11 games for Florida, and unfortunately had a winless record, that included 5 losses. He became part of the massive trade for Pavel Bure, and went to the Vancouver Canucks in the 1998-1999 season. Weekes would play for seven NHL teams, spanning an 11 year career with his 2003-2004 season with the Carolina Hurricanes being his busiest. Kevin played in 66 games that year and compiled a 23-30-11 record with a 2.33 GAA. Kevin is now part of the staff at CBC mostly doing color commentary for West Coast games (and doing a splendid job of I might add). You can also see Kevin on the NHL Network, where he not only shows his in depth knowledge of hockey, but also what a sharp dresser he is.
Kirk McLean: McLean started his career with the New Jersey Devils, and was traded to the Vancouver Canucks where he spent 11 seasons as their top netminder. He appeared in the 1994 Stanley Cup final when the Canucks lost to the New York Rangers. After a brief stop in Carolina, McLean was traded by the Hurricanes to the Panthers for foward Ray Sheppard in a straight up deal in 1998. McLean would play 37 games in total for Florida, compiling a 13-12-5 record before he signed with, ironincally, the New York Rangers in the summer of 1999. McLean came to the Panthers clearly at the downside of his career, and played two very below average seasons for the Blue shirts after he left Florida. Which brings us to our next and last member of the number one club.
Roberto Luongo: Drafted in the first round, 4th overall by the New York Islanders in 1997, genius general manager Mike Milbury felt that Rick DiPietro would have a better future on the island, and agreed to a trade with the Panthers thinking it would make his team better. Sometimes I wish Mike was still around to trade with. But I digress. Luongo who played only 24 games for the Islanders came to the Panthers in 2000 along with Olli Jokinen for Mark Parish and Oleg Kvasha. One of the most lopsided deals in the history of the NHL, as both Luongo and Jokinen became the faces of a struggling franchise during their time here. Luongo played for five seasons with the Panthers before being traded to Vancouver in 2006 (we seem to deal with them a lot). During his time here however, Bobby Lu was number one in many hearts before his controversial departure. His best season with Florida, however would be his last which was in 2005-2006, where he started 75 games, winning 35 and losing 30. Surrounded by a contract squabble that won’t be rehashed here, the Luongo situation ended with a bad taste in the mouths of some. While others couldn’t wait for the dramatics to end, and have him sent packing. Even though the deal itself turned out badly because of injuries to two of the players the Panthers acquired, we are now waiting with baited breathe to see if the 32 year old goaltender, with 10 years left on his bloated contract, will be coming back.
You know my thoughts on that.
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