March 17, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Wojtek Wolski (8) scores a goal past Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) in a shootout at the BankAtlantic Center. The Panthers won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

What's In A Number: A Look At Florida Panther Players Who Wore Sweater Number 8

The number 8 happens to be my favourite number.  Why?  Well first of all my favourite baseball player was Cal Ripken Jr.  He wore number 8 for the Baltimore Orioles, who are my favourite baseball team, and it didn’t hurt that he played third base toward the end of his career.  My favourite position on the ball field.  The second reason is because that’s the day that LilMissRatTrick was born on in June.

As for hockey, the number 8 is traditionally given to or worn by some very skilled players.  It’s been worn by 382 NHLers, and while some have been very good, others have been very forgettable.   The Florida Panthers had kjkj players who have worn this number, and most of them have been forgotten.  In alphabetical order here they are:

Valeri Bure: Val as he was known skated his entire career in the shadows of his brother Pavel, and played for the Florida Panthers for approximately three seasons.  From 2002 thru part of 2004, the younger and less talented Bure had a few moments of flash and brilliance, but for the most part was average.  But to his credit he had some lousy linemates.   Bure struggled at times, and was in Mike Keenan’s doghouse at one point.  Accused of being lazy and aloof at times, Bure just could not get out of his brother’s shadow.  I’ll never forget a game that Bure had two goals in and was looking for a hat trick.  The opposing team’s goaltender was pulled for an extra skater late in the game, but Keenan refused to put Bure on the ice saying that “he has to earn his ice time”.  I still snicker at that.  Val’s best season with the Panthers was his last when he played 55 games and had 20 goals and 25 assists in 2003-2004.  He was traded to Dallas for Drew Bagnall and a draft pick.

Dallas Eakins:  Eakins was a left handed shooting defenseman whom I will bet most of you don’t remember.  I recall his name, but nothing beyond that.  Eakins played 41 games for the Panthers in two separate stints in the mid to last “90’s.  He first left the Panthers in a trade to St. Louis for a draft pick that turned out to be Ivan Novoseltsev.  Then he was resigned as a free agent in 1998 and was not resigned the following season.

Tim Kennedy:  Acquired from the New York Rangers in 2011 in the Bryan McCabe trade, Kennedy was/is a smallish forward with some spunk.  Unfortunately he had little luck turning that spunk into anything that would be useful for the Panthers.  He played 33 games for Florida and scored one goal and had two assists.

Joel Kwiatkowski:  A journeyman defenceman who played in Florida for a season and a half.  Certainly not flashy or overly noticeable, Joel scored 10 goals in his time with Florida and was reliable if nothing else.  Didn’t make too many mistakes, but didn’t do anything to knock your socks off either.  He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a draft choice in 2006.  He played one game for the Penguins before moving on to the Atlanta Thrashers where he played 18 games.  Joel last played for SC Bern of the Swiss league last year.

Craig Martin:  I don’t remember Craig.  I don’t think you do either.  He played one game in the 96-97 season.  He accumulated five minutes in penalties, and had one shot on goal.  That is all.

Jaroslav Spacek:  Drafted in the fifth round by the Panthers in 1998, Spacek had one real good season for Florida.  1999-2000 when he scored 10 goals and had 26 assists in 82 games.  He was traded to Chicago for Anders Eriksson.  Never really understood that deal.  Spacek has played for several teams and enjoyed most of his NHL success playing for the Buffalo Sabres.

Magnus Svenson: A left handed shooting defenceman who came over from Calgary in the Robert Svehla deal in 1994, Svenson must have been a throw in.  He played parts of two NHL seasons with Florida before leaving North America to play in Sweden.  Svehla however played some great hockey as a Panther.

Wjotek Wolski:  Acquired late last season from the New York Rangers, Wolski was given every opportunity to resurrect his career.  It didn’t happen.  He’s extremely talented and has goal scoring ability, he seemed to play without much interest.  He was also known for being very useful in shootouts, an area the Panthers have been weak in for years.  His production was nowhere near worth his inflated salary of over $3 million dollars.  His contract was not renewed, as Florida would have had to match his $3.8 million dollar contract since he was a restricted free agent.  He has signed with the Washington Capitals for $600,000 this season.  I’m not worried seeing him six times this year.

Peter Worrel: A seventh round pick of the Panthers in 1995, Worrell was known for two things.  Ill advised penalties (dumb), and fighting.  He was with the Panthers for six seasons, and while he protected the team from getting run over, most of the time it didn’t work since he was in the penalty box for some other silly call.  In 2001-2002 Worrell played in 79 games and had four goals and five assists.  He probably could have scored 10 goals that season, but he spent 354 minutes in the sin bin!  The best thing that happened to Worrell during his time as a Panthers was playing for Mike Keenan.  Keenan always had an enforcer on teams he coached, and Worrell fit the role to a T.  Worrell was well liked and brought the fans to their feet the moment he dropped the gloves.  Since his retirement he’s become involved in youth hockey as a coach here in South Florida.

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Tags: Cal Ripken Jr Florida Panthers Jaroslav Spacek Peter Worrell Robert Svehla Tim Kennedy Valeri Bure Wojtek Wolski

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