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Players Who You May Have Forgotten Were Florida Panthers



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John Madden of the Florida Panthers battles Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins during a game in Sunrise on March 15, 2012. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

In the 30 year history of the Florida Panthers, many players have come and gone.

Some faster than others.

From trade deadline acquisitions, to waiver pickups to contracts that did not quite work out, there have been a slew of well-known NHL players who made a quick pit stop in South Florida.

Here are a few names you may have forgotten:

Igor Larionov

Yes, you read that correctly. Detroit Red Wings legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Igor Larionov was a Florida Panther… for 26 games.

Larionov signed a contract with the Panthers when free agency opened in 2000. Hot off acquiring Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen, Florida thought they had a contender on their hands, so they signed the two-time Stanley Cup Champion.

After a disappointing start to the season Larionov was shipped back to Detroit on Dec. 28 after putting up five goals and 11 points. Head coach Terry Murray and general manager Bryan Murray were both fired the next day.

Larionov won his third Stanley Cup with the Red Wings the following season.

Eric Cairns

New York Islanders cult hero enforcer Eric Cairns suited up in 23 games for the Florida Panthers in 2005-06.

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The 6-foot-6 defenseman tallied one assist while racking up 37 penalty minutes before getting shipped off to the Pittsburgh Penguins to serve as protection for then-rookie Sidney Crosby.

He earned his cult hero status on Long Island after knocking out Shayne Corson in a line brawl during the New York’s 2002 first round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

John Madden

Three-time Stanley Cup Champion and 2000-01 Selke Trophy winner John Madden wrapped up his NHL career in South Florida.

Madden inked a one-year, $600,000 deal with the Panthers during the 2011 offseason. He played in 31 games, scoring just three goals. He suited up in all seven games of Florida’s first-round series against his former team of 10 years but did not get on the scoresheet.

He retired that offseason and would later work for the team and serve as an assistant coach with Peter Horachek and Gerard Gallant.

Madden is perhaps most known for his time in New Jersey, where he won the Cup in 2000 and 2003, but he also made stops in Chicago (where he won his third ring in 2010) and Minnesota before arriving in Sunrise.

Dino Ciccarelli

Hall of Famer Dino Ciccarelli, who is most known for his time with the Minnesota North Stars and Detroit Red Wings, spent parts of his final two season with the Panthers.

The Tampa Bay Lightning traded Ciccarelli in a package which sent Mark Fitzpatrick across Alligator Alley on Jan 15, 1998. He played in 28 games with Florida, registering five goals and 16 points.

Ciccarelli returned for one last season in 1998-99 as the Panthers opened up their new building in Sunrise, tacking on another seven points in 14 games.

Ryan Whitney

Spittin’ Chiclets host Ryan Whitney suited up for his final seven NHL games with the Panthers in the 2013-14 season.

Whitney played the first four games of that season before getting sent down to Florida’s AHL affiliate at the time, the San Antonio Rampage. He played 45 games there, scoring seven goals and 23 points, while getting two more stints with the Panthers in November and March.

He played his last NHL game on March 23, 2014, finishing the season without an NHL point. He played in Europe for two more seasons before retiring and starting the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast with fellow former NHLer Paul Bissonnette.

Antti Niemi

While Roberto Luongo and James Reimer were both out with injuries, Antti Niemi appeared in two games for the Panthers in 2017-18. Niemi arrived to Florida off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 23, 2017 and was called into action shortly after.

Appearing in relief for Harri Sateri in both games, Niemi was 0-1-0 with a .872 save percentage and a 5.11 goals against average. He allowed five goals on 39 shots, stopping 18 of 21 in his final appearance in Sunrise on Nov. 2.

He was waived 11 days later and claimed by the Montreal Canadiens, where he played the final two seasons of his NHL career.

Niemi is most known for backing up the Blackhawks en route to their Stanley Cup victory in 2010 before starting a fruitful five-year stint with the San Jose Sharks.

Honorable mentions: Joe Nieuwendyk, Ed Belfour, Sergei Samsonov, Colby Robak, Steve Eminger, Reto Berra, Seth Griffith, Tanner Glass, Todd Bertuzzi, Thomas Vanek


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