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A Hero Of Their Own

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
By Dave Joseph for

“Spread your arms and hold your breath/Always trust your cape.” - Songwriter Guy Clark.

So where does one buy a cape?

You know, your average, just-walking-around, superhero cape? Preferably, something with an ‘H’ on the front. For hero, of course.

Panther defenseman Steve Montador carefully considered the question.

“There’s many forms of cape stores if you’re willing to look,” he replied.


“You can do something as simple as Wal-Mart, or even a party store,” Montador replied. “But I googled super hero capes. Or super capes. Or hero capes? Something like that, and this web site came up – Superhero Capes.”

And so begins the story of the Panthers and ‘The Cape.’

It’s yellow and red, it has a white ‘H’ stitched on the front, and it’s taken up permanent residence in the Panthers locker room at home and on the road.

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun, seen here stopping Montreal's Michael Ryder, is the current owner of the cape. (AP Photo/Ryan Remiorz, The Canadian Press)
The concept is simple: After every victory, the cape is awarded to the evening’s hero – unsung or otherwise. And whoever is in possession of the cape has the honor of awarding it come the next victory.

“It’s cool,” said Radek Dvorak, who was bestowed the cape last weekend after the Panthers 6-4 victory over the Lightning by Bryan Allen, who earned the cape by blocking shots and sticking up for teammates in the Panthers 3-0 victory Oct. 11 against the Devils. “You have to take care of it and you have the honor of giving it out.”

It was Dvorak’s honor Tuesday night in Montreal to award the cape to goalie Tomas Vokoun after his memorable performance in goal in the Panthers 2-1 shootout victory.

So other than finding a cape – it looked a bit small on Allen but was well tailored to Dvorak and Vokoun – how did the cape come into the Panther dressing room?

“We have some running jokes in here and there’s a number of us who kid around about guys being heroes, so it’s all for fun,” Montador said. “But the basic part is it symbolizes the unsung hero of the game. The cape is fitting because you get to praise guys who don’t get a lot of credit on the score sheet or from any source. But we recognize it within a game.”

Defenseman Mike Van Ryn calls the cape a “great idea that brings the team together.”

“Whether you stick up for your teammate or make a big block, it’s kind of a neat thing so people don’t go unnoticed,” he added.

“Sometimes it goes to the guys that block shots and work hard. It just shows them that their teammates appreciate what they’re doing, because not everybody get’s the glory of scoring two goals in a game,” said Vokoun.

Montador said the cape is a variation of what other teams have done over the years.

“It’s something I learned in Calgary where we had a hard helmet that would go to the unsung hero,” he said. “This (the cape) is kind of the same thing. Craig Conroy brought that (the hard helmet) from St. Louis. It’s a great way to be recognized by your peers. It’s certainly an honor if you ever get it.

“It’s a piece of the big puzzle. By the end of the year, if you look at baseball teams, they have lengthy handshakes that have built up throughout the year. This is the same idea. We’re adding more fuel to the fire. It’s that kind of thing, and as time goes by more guys will get it and more jokes will come with it. And it will act like some kind of glue to keep us together.”

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