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Jovanovski to have season-ending surgery

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida Panthers captain Ed Jovanovski's season is over.

Ed Jovanovski
Defense - FLA
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 6 | +/-: -4
The team announced Thursday night that the veteran defenseman will undergo season-ending hip surgery on April 5. However, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said he's confident Jovanovski will be able to return next season.

"I know Jovo will do everything in his power to get back to playing," Tallon said. "That's what he's all about. I hope it all works out for him. It's never easy, but if anybody can do it, it'll be Jovo."

Jovanovski played only six games this season, finishing with one assist and a minus-4 ratio.

After playing in five of the Panthers' first six games, Jovanovski was injured in a Jan. 29 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He missed the next 22 games before returning March 16 against the New York Islanders -- but left in the second period and hasn't played since.

Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said on March 18 that Jovanovski would be out indefinitely.

"Over the last few weeks, there were discussions with doctors and the team trainers and all of us together," Tallon said. "Obviously, it's Jovo's decision. He's the one that has to make the final call on that. Nobody knows his body better than he does. I have every confidence that he will do whatever it takes to get back to playing."

Jovanovski rejoined the Panthers on July 1, 2011 when he signed a four-year, $16.5 million contract. The first player taken in the 1994 NHL Draft, Jovanovski spent the first three-plus seasons of his career with the Panthers before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks.

He signed with Phoenix as a free agent in 2006 and played for the Coyotes for five seasons.

Jovanovski becomes the fourth key member of the 2012 Southeast Division championship team to be lost for the season, joining left wing Sean Bergenheim, center Stephen Weiss and right wing Kris Versteeg.

"It'd be nice to be a surgeon," Tallon joked. "It's never easy. It's been a tough year for all of us, but we'll get through it and we'll look forward to moving on and getting better."

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