It took a few extra days, but the Florida Panthers have reached a deal with veteran free-agent centerman John Madden on a one-year contract. The team announced the expected move on Wednesday morning.
Madden, who played with the Minnesota Wild last season, was still skating and keeping in hockey shape as the season wore on hoping that he could find a landing spot. When the Panthers were beat up, down seven forwards at one time, the interest grew to Wednesday's climax of Madden officially being announced as a Panther.
The connection to Florida, of course, comes through GM Dale Tallon. It was Tallon who brought Madden on board in Chicago where he played with now fellow Panthers Kris Versteeg, Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky on their way to winning the Stanley Cup. Madden also won two Cups while with the New Jersey Devils.
“John is a veteran player who brings to our team a wealth of playing experience having won two Stanley Cups with New Jersey and one with Chicago,” Tallon said in the team's release. “He is a hard working and responsible forward who plays well at both ends of the ice and is excellent on face-offs."
As Tallon noted, one of Madden's big strengths will be his faceoff ability. He has also always been recognized for his ability to kill penalties, an area where the Panthers could use a little help and won the Selke Award in 2001. Plus, he adds a little more veteran presence to the locker room, value that as you will.
In his career, the 38-year-old has also added 162 goals -- including 12 last season -- and 183 assists.
Madden will travel with the team for their two-game, back-to-back road trip to the Rangers on Thursday and then his former Devils team on Friday.
The need for Madden to come in and play immediately is lessening for the Panthers, who are still hanging on to first place in the Southeast, but that's partly due to games in hand. A light but tough schedule in the month of January will tell a lot about this team's staying power. But the good news is that Marcel Goc and Mikael Samuelsson appear to be on the verge of returning after their injuries.
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