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Bryan McCabe: Florida Panthers Mr. Tough Guy

Mccabe1 During postgame interviews Saturday night, I noticed the checkered flag hanging not on Dmitry Kulikov's stall nor next to Dennis Wideman or Evgeny Dadonov.

No the checkered flag, the one teammates give to that night's hero of the game, was at the stall belonging to Bryan McCabe.

McCabe didn't score a goal, didn't get on the scoreboard.

But there's no doubt who the 'hero' of Saturday night's 3-2 overtime win was.

McCabe broke his jaw during the first period of Saturday night's game. He missed a shift. McCabe, who was also playing with a broken finger, came out with a protective shield knowing that may help a little. It probably didn't. Coach Pete DeBoer joked that McCabe couldn't yell for the puck like he usually does.

“We were laughing on the bench a little bit,'' DeBoer said, “because there were times in the third where he would ordinarily be yelling for the puck. All you heard was mumbles. We forgave him for that. Again, quite a show of guts and determination. Guys like that are few and far between. You appreciate his commitment to doing whatever it takes to win for however long he can go.''

The Panthers say McCabe will be out for a few weeks, but it'll probably be at least a Mccabe2 month before he plays again. DeBoer said an extra alternate captain could be named during McCabe's absence.

Here's what the Panthers had to say about McCabe on Monday:

PETE DEBOER

“That's a special group that Bryan's in. I know that hockey players are tough guys, but not everyone is built like that.

“There's a reason he's our captain. He just refused to come out of the game – and he was playing with a broken finger that would have kept most players out. He's a pretty special guy and it's nice to have a guy like that in your locker room leading your team.

Mccabe3 “They had a good idea it was broken although there wasn't a clear picture on the X-ray. By all accounts everyone guessed it was broken. He knew that and wouldn't come out. That's pretty special.

“You get to this time of the year and there are a lot of guys playing with injuries. Teams are banged up. But this was a special situation.

“We're going to miss him in a lot of areas. In the room, his energy on the bench between periods. He's done an outstanding job as captain with a young team under some trying circumstances the past few years. We'll miss him on the power play, 5-on-5, but more so in the locker room.''

TOMAS VOKOUN

“He's a tough player. Coming back from that, what can you say? I can only imagine how much pain he was in during the game.

“That was the kind of injury you could understand if he came out. But he came right back and played the whole game through it. It says a lot about him.

“It's not like you're not going to be hit or they were going to take it easy on him. It's great to see that kind of commitment.''

KEATON ELLERBY

“Bryan McCabe has already proven himself as a leader but that was just unreal. The guy played with a broken finger and a broken jaw? You can't ask any more from your captain. I'm just coming in trying to follow in those footsteps. It's a big guy to follow.''

STEPHEN WEISS

“This is the game we play man. It's all part of it. You're going to have these things happen. McCabe, that was a freak accident. Puck goes off the stick, catches him in the face. You hate to see that happen to anyone, but especially your captain. He plays through a lot, is always there for the guys.

“He wants to play and you're going to physically pull him out of the game to get him out of there. That's exactly what happened. If he has two legs to stand on, he's going to be out there with us. That's what a captain will do. It's tough to see him go through that. He'll be back and ready to go. It's up to us to keep it going while he's gone.''

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