The number 27 as you will see towards the end of this post is one of my favourite NHL numbers. 323 players have worn this number in the NHL, however only five have done so for the Florida Panthers. Most of those players have been pretty mediocre….ok the were bad, but there was one player that wore number 27 and wore it proudly. We’ll start with him.
Scott Mellanby was an original member of the Florida Panthers from 1993 till 2001. He is the primary reason this sight has it’s name, since he was the one who performed the “Rat Trick” back in 1995. Mellanby was one of the most rugged players to have worn a Florida Panther sweater, and was the type of player that many looked at to be a catalyst for the team. With his initial 30 goal and 30 assist first season for the expansion Panthers, Mellanby won the hearts of South Florida immediately, and carried that love till his departure in 2001. Mellanby had that toughness, work ethic and quality character the Panthers employed back in their early entrance into the league. It’s something that is making a bit of a comeback now with Dale Tallon building a roster of players with the same attributes. Mellanby was tough as well. How tough? Anyone remember this little tussel? Even though Mellanby was traded away, he will always be remembered as a one of the best players to have been a Florida Panther.
Jaroslav Bednar (pronounced Bednash). A Florida Panther for a season and a half from 2002 to 2004, Bednar was originally drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Kings. He came to Florida along with defenceman Andreas Lilja in a trade involving Dmitry Yushkevich and a draft pick. Bednar was given ample opportunity to earn top six minutes, but never quite got himself going as he scored only six times in 65 games. After his brief time in Florida, Bendar went to play in Europe and Russia where he had some better success at finding the back of the net.
Christian Berglund. An original draft pick of the New Jersey Devils, the Panthers gave up Viktor Kozlov for Berglund and Victor Uchevatov in March of 2004. Not one of Florida’s best moments as it turned out. Berglund lasted 10 games for the Panthers before leaving for Sweden, where he too became more successful at scoring there than in the NHL. This was apparently at a time when if a player couldn’t make it here in Florida, he was off to Europe to find his game.
Noah Welch. Acquired by the Panthers in February of 2007 when Jacques Martin, who was “playing” general manager, traded my favourite Panther, Gary Roberts to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Welch was a big defenceman who had promise, but was never able to reach it. In parts of three seasons for Florida Welch played 29 games for the Panthers as injuries curtailed his progress as an NHL defenceman. He was eventually traded to the Tampa Bay Lighting, and then the Atlanta Thrashers, where he last played for their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. The biggest news that Welch has made to date is that he’ll be donating his brain to science at the Boston University School of Medicine after his death to research concussions. An absolutely terrific gesture on his part.
Michal Repik. A second round pick (40th overall) by the Panthers in 2007, Repik was mistakenly labeled as “Baby Jagr” for what was his alleged scoring skills. A regular scorer in the under 17 league in Czech Republic as well as the WHL with the Vancover Giants, Repik would find that scoring in the big leagues wasn’t so easy. However he may not have been given all that fair of a chance, as he was often placed on the fourth line, which as we know is no place for a goal scorer. But then again, it was assumed that he was a goal scorer. In 72 games in the NHL, all with the Panthers, Repik scored nine goals and had 11 assists. Former coach Peter DeBoer was critical of Repik’s lack of attention to defence, and hustle. With a nickname like Baby Jagr, you just knew something was going to go wrong. Any Miami Heat fans remember Baby Jordan?
Now my favourite player to ever wear number 27 of course is Jeremy Roenick who wore it as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks. I was enamored with Roenick from the first exhibition game I saw him play in when he wore number 55. When he officially settled in and made the Hawks roster, he went on to have one of the best careers that an American born hockey player has ever had. Hopefully that will be capped off with an induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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