Panthers Hall of Famers: Who's Next? Ciccarelli Feted in Toronto; Vanbiesbrouck Honored in Fort Lauderdale
Dino Ciccarelli became the second player with ties to the Florida Panthers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Monday night in Toronto.
Ciccarelli ended his NHL career with the Panthers, playing in 42 games after GM Bryan Murray acquired him in a trade with the Lightning in January, 1998.
He had 11 goals and 12 assists in 42 games – including his 600th goal against Detroit on February 3, 1998.
Ciccarelli was just the ninth player in NHL history to reach that record.
“It was just one year, but all these guys are just the tops,'' said Radek Dvorak, who played with Ciccarelli with the Panthers in 1998.
“Dino scored so many goals in the league and was a great leader. He had 600 goals. I played with so many great players and Dino was one of them. He could score from anywhere. Anywhere. He would get in front of the net, tip the pucks with his stick. He was unbelievable. He accomplished great things. It's great to see him in the Hall of Fame.''
Igor Larionov – who, like Ciccarelli, played just part of one season with the Panthers – was inducted in 2008.
Soon, there could be a few more.
Joe Nieuwendyk, who signed with the Panthers shortly after the lockout ended, retired with the Panthers in 2006 and was a finalist to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer this year. He could go in next year.
Ed Belfour, whose final NHL season was with the Panthers in 2006-07, becomes eligible to join the hallowed Hall in 2011.
Roger Neilson, the Panthers first coach who spent two seasons in Florida, was inducted into the Hall in 2002. Bill Torrey built the Panthers from scratch in 1992 and was inducted in 1995.
On Tuesday night in Fort Lauderdale, original goalie John Vanbiesbrouck will join a different hall as he is formally inducted into the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame. He joins such local football luminaries as Nova High star Autry Denson (Notre Dame, Dolphins) and South Broward's Danny McManus (FSU, Grey Cup MVP).
Vanbiesbrouck will be celebrated by the Panthers at Wednesday's game against the Maple Leafs.
“Not everyone gets this honor, so congratulations for him and I look forward to seeing him at the game,'' Dvorak said. “It's well deserved. When he played for us, he's the reason we won and why we went to the Stanley Cup Finals. Good for him.''