SUNRISE, Fla. – Florida Panthers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that forward Aleksander Barkov has been named the 10th captain in Panthers franchise history.
Over Florida’s 25-year history in the NHL, Barkov joins a group of captains including: Brian Skrudland (1993-94 to 1997-98), Scott Mellanby (1997-98 to 2000-01), Pavel Bure (2001-02), Paul Laus (2001-02), Olli Jokinen (2003-04 to 2007-08), Bryan McCabe (2009-10 to 2010-11), Ed Jovanovski (2012-13 to 2013-14), Willie Mitchell (2014-15 to 2015-16) and Derek MacKenzie (2016-17 to 2017-18).
“Aleksander Barkov is ready to be the captain of the Florida Panthers,” said Tallon. “He has all of the qualities of a great leader: unrivaled work ethic, wisdom beyond his years and the respect and admiration of his teammates. Aleksander’s determination and passion for the game have made him one of the NHL’s best and most complete players. The time was right for Aleksander to be named the captain of this franchise and I’m certain that he will bring the same high standard of class and dedication to the captaincy that he brings to the rink every single day.”
“Aleksander is the complete package,” said Panthers head coach Bob Boughner. “He’s a great person and a great player who leads by example both on and off the ice. In discussing the makeup of our leadership group for next season over the summer, Dale and I felt that the time was right to turn the responsibilities of captain over to Aleksander before this season. He’s learned a lot from Derek MacKenzie and our veteran leaders and I’m excited to watch him take on this challenge and responsibility. I know that he’s the right person at the right time to lead this team.”
Barkov, 23, served as a Panthers alternate captain for home games during the 2017-18 season. A 2018 NHL All-Star, Barkov set career highs in assists (51) and points (78) in 79 career games during the 2017-18 season.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound native of Tampere, Finland has appeared in 331 career NHL games, all with Florida, producing 249 points (100-149-249).
Regarded as one of the NHL’s best two-way centers, Barkov finished fourth in voting for the 2017-18 Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the NHL forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game. Barkov was also was one of only two forwards in the NHL to average more than 22 minutes of ice-time per game, managed a career high face-off percentage (53.5%) and led the league in shorthanded goals (5) during the 2017-18 campaign.
He is a two-time finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player adjudged to have “exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability” (2016, 2018).
“This is a tremendous honor and I’m excited to take on the responsibility of being captain,” said Barkov. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to observe and work with quality leaders and captains like Ed Jovanovski, Willie Mitchell and Derek MacKenzie during my career. I love my teammates, we’re a tight group and there are a lot of strong leaders in our room. I was very happy when Bob and Dale told me that I was going to be captain. It’s a dream come true to see the captain’s ‘C’ on my jersey.”
MacKenzie, 37, served as Panthers captain for two seasons from 2016-17 to 2017-18 and served as Panthers alternate captain for two seasons from his arrival in 2014-15 to 2015-16.
The veteran forward ranked second among all Panthers forwards in short-handed ice time (172:35), managed a 52.1 face-off percentage and registered 14 points (3-11-14) in 75 games during the 2017-18 season. MacKenzie has appeared in 610 NHL games with Florida (2014-15 to 2017-18), the Columbus Blue Jackets (2007-08 to 2014-15) and Atlanta Thrashers (2001-02 to 2006-07), recording 125 points (51-75-125).
“I’m grateful for Derek’s leadership abilities, his character and the role he has played in mentoring our young players,” said Tallon. “Derek has brought credibility and a sense of purpose to our organization from the moment he signed with the Panthers in 2014. The decision to make Aleksander captain is about turning this team over to our young core, but I know Derek will continue to be a significant contributor to our team’s success this season, both on and off the ice.”
“I’d like to thank Derek for his dedication to our team, his character and the role he played mentoring our young players,” said Tallon. “Over the past two years, he’s led this team and shaped our young core, helping to set up our franchise for years to come. I know Derek will continue to be a significant leader and contributor to our team’s success this season, both on and off the ice.”
The Panthers will announce the rest of their leadership group for the 2018-19 season at a later date.
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