In yesterday's article, we looked back at original Panther right winger Scott Mellanby (552 games, 157 goals, 197 assists). Today look at current top line centerman Stephen Weiss, the only Panther to play in 10 diffferent seasons in Sunrise.
For more, including a poll, follow the jump.
Weiss, a 5'11" left-handed center from Toronto, Ontario, started his junior career with Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League, scoring 15 goals and 22 assists in 35 contests for the North York Rangers in 1998-99. The following season, he joined the OHL Plymouth Whalers, scoring 24 goals and 42 assists in 64 games. 2000-01 would see him improve his numbers to 40 goals and 47 assists in 62 games. The Panthers took notice of his high potential, spending the fourth overall pick of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Weiss, then still just 18-years old, spent another season with the Whalers (46 games, 25 goals, 45 assists), before joining the Panthers for seven games in April. Weiss scored a goal in his NHL debut, 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 3rd. He averaged 16:14 time on ice, scoring just the one goal on 15 shots with an assist and a neutral rating.
In 2002-03, Weiss made the club out of training camp. He wasn't quite the offensive threat that he would later develop into, with only three two point games out of 77 total games played. This includes a goal and an assist in a March 3rd, 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He took 87 shots on goal, finishing tied for eighth on the club with six goals and with 15 assists. He finished the season with a minus-13 rating and only 17 penalty minutes collected.
2003-04 would see Weiss relegated to the San Antonio Rampage on opening day, staying with the team through their first 10 games (six goals, three assists). He was recalled to the Panthers on November 7th, where Weiss promptly pitched in a goal and an assist in a 6-3 Florida win over Pittsburgh. Three weeks later, he scored two goals in a 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. On January 21st, Weiss scored a season high three points (one goal, two assists) as the Panthers suffered a 6-5 defeat to the Colorado Avalanche. Late in the season, he suffered a sprained knee and a broken leg in quick succession, limiting him to 50 games. He averaged 17:42 time on ice, usually as part the Panthers second line. He ranked sixth on the club in goals and assists, with 12 (on 82 shots) and 17 assists, rating at minus-10 with 10 penalty minutes.
During the lost 2004-05 season, Weiss split the season between the Rampage (62 games, 15 goals, 23 assists) and the Chicago Wolves (18 games, seven goals, nine assists). When play resumed in 2005-06, Weiss missed the second half of the season with a wrist injury. In the first half of the season, he appeared in 41 games, scoring nine goals on 74 shots with 12 assists. He racked up 22 minutes in the penalty box, averaging 15:15 per game with a minus-2 rating.
To most people, Weiss seemed to "come of age" in the 2006-07 season, with his first 20 goal/20 assist effort. He had 11 multi-point games, including six three point matches. He scored his first career hat trick on January 13th in a 7-3 Panthers win over the Washington Capitals. From February 24th through March 6th, Weiss racked up eight point in a five game scoring streak (five goals, three assists). He scored a team fourth best 20 goals on 76 shots with 28 assists. He posted a minus-1 rating and 28 penalty minutes while averaging 17:07 per game.
2007-08 would see Weiss average 17:35 through 74 games played. He scored 13 goals on 132 shots, ranking third on the club with 29 assists and with his first positive plus/minus rating, at plus-14. He also spent a new career high 40 minutes in the penalty box. He put up six two point contests over the course of the season.
In 2008-09, Weiss scored 14 goals on 154 shots. He led the Panthers with 47 assists, a plus-19 rating, and 61 overall points, all career highs. Weiss collected 22 penalty minutes while averaging 17:48 per game. He also had 14 two point games and four three point efforts, including one goal and two assists in a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 3rd.
Weiss scored a career high 28 goals (on 180 shots) to lead the Panthers in 2009-10, pitching in 32 assists. He ended the season with a minus-7 rating and 40 penalty minutes, skating an average of exactly 20 minutes per game, second on the forward corps to frequent linemate Nathan Horton. He notched his second career hat trick on December 2nd in a 6-5 Florida win over the Colorado Avalanche. Three weeks later, he had his first career four point game (one goal, three assists) as Florida beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-1.
In 2010-11, Weiss led all Panthers forwards with 20:06 of average time on ice. He ranked second on the team with 21 goals on 172 shots, leading the Panthers with 28 assists and 49 total points. He had a minus-3 rating and a team third most 49 penalty minutes. He had 11 two-point games and on two occasions registered three. First in a 7-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on November 5th (two goals, one assist), then on January 11th he dished out three assists in a 4-3 win victory against the Capitals.
2011-12 would see Weiss equal a career high with 80 games. He played a career high 20:31 average time on ice. He ranked third on the team with 20 goals on 149 shots with team second bests 37 assists and a plus-5 rating. He also set a new career high and ranked third on the club with 60 penalty minutes. He had 10 multi-point games, including a two goal, two assist night in a 7-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 17th. After 637 regular season games, Weiss cashed in his long overdue reward with his first ever playoff action. In the Panthers seven game series loss to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, he scored three goals and two assists. In game two, on April 15th, he scored twice as the Panthers won, 4-2 to pull even at one game apiece.
Stephen Weiss HIghlights (via TheHockeyStuff)
Stephen Weiss Makes the Playoffs (via MiamiHeraldHockey)
There are many who think that by spending 10 (mostly) disappointing seasons with the Panthers, and becoming Florida's all-time leader in games played and assists, Weiss has earned the right to wear the Captain's "C" on his sweater. For my money, you would be hard pressed to convince me that anyone else on the team deserves it more. Not even 30 yet, he has repeatedly stated a desire to spend his entire career as a Panther.
All-Time Statline: Ten seasons (all-time leader), 637 games (all-time leader), 144 goals (fourth all-time), 246 assists (all-time leader), 390 points (second all-time), minus-4 rating, 288 PIM, 38.2 APS.