Named the team's captain at the beginning of the season, Panthers defenseman Ed Jovanovski really didn't get a chance to lead on the ice as he faced a nagging hip ailment throughout.
That injury will cost him the rest of the season as the team announced that he'll undergo season-ending hip surgery on April 5th.
For Jovanovski, he was only able to play six games before deciding to undergo surgery. He played five games to begin the season before leaving the game in Tampa Bay January 29 after an open ice hit. He missed 22 games before coming back to play on March 16 against the Islanders. He attempted to skate in several different sessions but after not getting any better, he decided to go through with surgery.
“Over the last few weeks, I would imagine, discussions with doctors and the team trainers and all of us together," said Panthers GM Dale Tallon when asked about the surgery decision. "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.”
For Florida, it's been a tough season as Jovanovski is the fourth player to have season ending surgery. That list includes Sean Bergenheim who has missed all season with a lower body injury, Stephen Weiss (wrist surgery, missed last 13 games) and Kris Versteeg (knee surgery, missed last eight games). Tallon can only joke about the situation in front of them.
“Yeah, it’d be nice to be a surgeon," said Tallon. "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.”
Despite the season-ending surgery and Jovanovski's age (36), Tallon truly believes that the warrior that the defenseman is, he'll be back next season and leading the Panthers once again.
“I know Jovo will do everything in his power to get back to playing," said Tallon. "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.”