Welcome to the humpday edition of the LBC's exclusive Panthers countdown, where we profile every player to ever suit up for Florida. The details can be found at this link.
Yesterday, we looked at former Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard (164 games, 14 goals, 48 assists) and recent former left winger Michael Frolik (213 games, 50 goals, 67 assists). Today, we'll take the time to check out another Minnesota defenseman and a goaltender from Ontario.
Follow the jump for a video, a poll, and assorted fine cheeses.
30. Bret Hedican
Hedican scored 15 goals and 19 assists in 23 games his senior year in high school, at North St. Paul. The 6'2" defenseman from St. Paul, Minnesota was drafted in the 10th round of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues soon afterward, with the 198th overall pick. He then played three seasons of collegiate hockey with the St. Cloud State Huskies (105 games, 30 goals, 46 assists).
Instead of turning pro right away, Hedican spent the 1991-92 season on the US National team, playing 62 games with the club. After going 4-0-1 in the "Group A" qualifying round, the US team just barely missed the the podium, in fourth. He also made his professional debut later in the season with St. Louis, in four regular season and five playoff games.
Hedican played in parts of three seasons with the Blues (107 games, one goal, 19 assists). St. Louis traded him to the Vancouver Canucks on March 21, 1994 with Jeff Brown and Nathan LaFayette for Craig Janney. In parts of six seasons with the Canucks, he played in 310 contests, racking up 17 goals and 85 assists. He also appeared in 41 playoff matches for the club, scoring a goal and nine assists. He was traded to the Panthers with Pavel Bure, Brad Ference, and a third round pick (Robert Fried) for Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes and a first round draft pick (Nathan Smith) on January 17, 1999.
Hedican finished the 1998-99 season in Florida, nearly equalling the departed Jovanovski in ice time (22:24 through 25 games). He scored three goals on 38 shots, tabbing multiple points in three games, including a goal and an assist on April 17, a 6-2 season closing victory for the Panthers over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He finished the season with seven assists, 17 PIM, and a minus-2 rating.
Hedican played in 76 games for the Panthers in 1999-00. The only game in which he scored more than one point was a New Year's Day 7-5 win over the Bolts to wave in the new Millenium, with a goal and an assist. He averaged 19:36 TOI per game, getting second pairing minutes and scoring six goals on 58 shots with 19 assists. He racked up 68 PIM and ened the regular season at plus-4. He went scoreless in four playoff games following the season.
In 2000-01, Hedican played a blueline second best 21:49 per contest over 70 games. He scored five goals on 104 shots, including two on October 30 in a 6-5 loss to the New Jersey Devils. He also picked up 15 assists on the year, a minus-7 rating, and 72 penalty minutes.
2001-02 would see Hedican score three goals on 46 shots through the first 31 games of the season, along with seven assists. He was traded to the Carolina Huricanes on January 16 with Kevyn Adams and Tomas Malec for Sandis Ozolinsh and Byron Ritchie.
Over parts of six seasons with the Hurricanes, Hedican appeared in 369 games (in a strange coincidence, a number that ranks 30th on Carolina's all-time games played leaderboard). He scored 19 goals and 82 assists in regular season play. He also scored three goals and 13 assists in 48 postseason games with the club, helping them to the 2006 Stanley Cup Championship.
With the 2008-09 season just underway, Hedican signed a free agent contract with the Anaheim Ducks (51 games, one goal, five assists). He officially announced his retirement prior to the 2009-10 season. He has been married to Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi since 2000, and currently serves as the pre- and post- game host for the San Jose Sharks on CSN California.
All-Time Statline: Four seasons, 202 games, 17 goals, 48 assists, 65 points, minus-9 rating, 169 PIM, 11.7 APS.
29. Mark Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick, a 6'2" goaltender from Toronto, gained his chops with the WHL Medicine Hat Tigers. In four seasons beginning in 1984-85, he accrued a superb 94-34-11 with a GAA just north of three. He was selected in the second round of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings, with the 27th overall pick.
1988-89 would see Fitzpatrick split his season between the AHL New Haven Nighthawks (10-5-1, 3.31, .887), the NHL Kings (6-7-3, 4.01, .887), and after a trade, the New York Islanders (3-5-2, 3.92, .869). He played the next four seasons in the Islanders organization, splitting his time between the Islanders (51-53-17, 3.41, .891) and the AHL's Capital District Islanders (10-15-4). During the 1990-91 season, he contracted the potentially fatal Eosinophilia–myalgia syndrome. His recovery and persistence led to his winning the 1992 Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy.
After the 1992-93 season, Fitzpatrick was traded to the Quebec Nordiques with a first round pick (Adam Deadmarsh) for Ron Hextall and a first round pick (Todd Bertuzzi). Four days later, he was claimed by the Panthers in the NHL Expansion Draft.
1993-94 would see Fitzpatrick post a 12-8-6 record backing up first ever number one netminder John Vanbiesbrouck. He blanked the Boston Bruins on February 6, stopping 38 shots in a 3-0 shutout. His .913 save percentage (NHL fifth-best) and 2.73 GAA, although not quite up to snuff with Beezer's numbers, at the represented career bests for Fitzy.
In 1994-95, Fitzpatrick went 6-7-2 in his 15 decisions as the season was shortened to only 48 games. Two of his victories were shutouts, a 2-0, 21-save performance on February 15 against the Ottawa Senators, and a 17-save, 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils on April 20. His 90% save rate and 2.64 goals allowed per 60 minutes again ranked second on the team.
Goalie fight - Bill Ranford vs. Mark Fitzpatrick dual-feed (via nefraz)
Fitzpatrick started out the 1995-96 campaign with a 9-1-1 record before coming back to earth. He finished up at 15-11-3, with an .896 save percentage and a 2.96 GAA. In two playoff games, he allowed six goals on 30 shots, but did not figure into any of the Panthers 22 decisions (Beezer went 12-10) as the Cats took home the Eastern Conference Championship.
1996-97 would see Fitzpatrick again start out hot, with a 6-1-2 record through his first nine decisions. He went on to post an 8-9-9 record. a career and NHL eighth best 2.36 GAA, and a .914 save percentage, both marks were only marginally short of Vanbiesbrouck's on the season. The Panthers again qualified for the playoffs, but were eliminated in five games by the New York Rangers. Fitzpatrick did not see any playing time in the series.
In 1997-98, Fitzpatrick posted his fourth and final shutout as a Panther, in a 23-save, 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders on November 15. It was one of few bright spots that year for him, as he went on to compile a 2-7-2 record before getting traded on January 15 to the Tampa Bay Lightning Jody Hull for Jeff Norton and Dino Ciccarelli.
After finishing out the season with the Lightning (7-24-1 3.16, .895), Fitzpatrick went on to play for the Chicago Blackhawks (6-8-6, 2.74, .906) and the Carolina Hurricanes (0-2-0, 4.49, .882). After going 4-4-0 for the IHL's Detroit Vipers in 2000-01, he tried to make the Vancouver Canucks out of training camp in 2001. He was not signed, and retired shortly thereafter.
All-Time Statline: Five seasons, 119 games, 6,528 minutes, 43-42-22 record, four shutouts, 3,051 shots faced, 2,756 saves, 295 goals allowed, .903 save percentage, 2.71 GAA, 11.9 APS.
Thank you for reading today's article. Leave a vote in the poll - please, comment - and check back tomorrow for a Swedish left winger and a currently rostered Russian Florida defenseman.