Florida Panthers Summer Sweater Series: #1 Kevin Weekes
With the "Leaping Cat" on its way out, it's time to look back at some notable Panthers who wore it proudly
Sure, the NHL playoffs are still ongoing, but with the Florida Panthers already out of the chase for Lord Stanley's mug, it's now, if you hadn't noticed already, summertime (where the writing ain't easy) mode for the LBC crew.
So, with that in mind, and the Panthers set to unveil a new logo and new uniforms in the near future, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at some of the notable players to sport the "Leaping Cat" on a number-by-number basis.
This series will be entirely subjective. It is not really intended to be the "best player" to sport a particular number, although in some cases that is what will happen, but more of a fun way to pass the time as we wait for the Cats to take the ice again. Doing things this way will give us a chance to touch on some names that don't get brought up here very often. A big thanks to John Fontana and our friends over at Raw Charge for the idea.
The obvious choice for the #1 is, of course, Roberto Luongo, but I'm going to go off the beaten path and give today's article to one of the other two players to sport numero uno in Panthers' history, Kevin Weekes. Sorry Lu, you get plenty of coverage here as it is. Weekes is also the only player in the history of the franchise to sport #80 (although not in a regular season game), so I am working a two birds (or Cats) with one stone thing here.
Goaltender Kevin Weekes was Florida's second-ever draft pick, chosen in the second round (41st overall) in 1993 after he had one OHL season with the Owen Sound Platters under his belt.
After two more years in the OHL (with Owen Sound and Ottawa), the young netminder signed with the Panthers organization and spent two seasons in the AHL with Carolina, honing his craft and winning 41 games for the Monarchs in that span.
in 1997-98, the 22-year-old Weekes played in 11 games for the Panthers, posting an 0-5-1 record with 3.96 GAA. He also played in 12 games for the IHL's Fort Wayne Komets that season. His NHL debut came in relief of John Vanbiesbrouck on October 16, 1997 in a 4-0 loss to the Dallas Stars that saw Weekes stop all five of the shots he faced. His first start, a 30-save effort, came a week later in a 2-2 tie (remember those?) against the Senators in Ottawa. Weekes surrendered the first five goals in a 6-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres in his final regular season appearance for Florida on March 19, 1998.
On January 17, 1999, with veterans Sean Burke and Kirk McLean sharing the Florida net, Weekes, who was back in the IHL, and killing it, with the Detroit Vipers, was part of the package that the Cats sent to the Vancouver Canucks in a blockbuster trade to acquire Pavel Bure.
Despite never registering a win in a Panthers uniform, the Toronto native went on to post 105 of them with the Canucks, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils in a career that lasted until the end of the 2008-09 campaign.
After his playing days ended, Weekes wisely got into broadcasting and is now one of the main cogs in NHL Network's excellent coverage of the league. In 2011, The Hockey News cited Weekes as one of the Top 40 under 40, in its100 Most Powerful people in hockey edition. He's come a long way since having his name called by Panthers in Quebec City.
Other Panther players to wear #1: Roberto Luongo and Kirk McLean