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Evgeny Dadonov: The Florida Panthers Surprise All-Star Representative

Dadcard You can tell Panthers coach Pete DeBoer was a little taken back when told who would be representing his franchise at this weekend's All-Star Game.

He wasn't alone.

Instead of Tomas Vokoun, Stephen Weiss or David Booth, it will be rookie winger Evgeny Dadonov in Raleigh, N.C., this weekend trying to do the Panthers proud.

Like DeBoer, even Dadonov was a little surprised by the honor. Dadonov got word he would be going to Raleigh a few hours before he played in just his 19th NHL game.

“I don't know much about this, this is the first time they told me about it,'' Dadonov said soon after word broke that he was selected. When asked about the format, it was obvious he hadn't put much thought into it. Why should he?

“I was kind of surprised,'' DeBoer said. “He'd only played in 14 games this season. But what a great honor for him. Next to the Stanley Cup playoffs, this is one of the biggest things in the NHL and he gets to be part of that. It's great for him.''

Dadonov will not be playing in Sunday's All-Star Game as no Florida player was selected for that honor. Dadonov is filling the NHL mandate that each franchise be represented in some way, and he'll take part in Saturday's SuperSkills competition with the rest of the All-Star participants.

This is only the second time in franchise history and first time since 1998 that the Panthers had no player in the All-Star Game.
With the changed format – the game will not be the traditional Eastern vs. Western Conference – the NHL felt it didn't really need to stick by the unwritten rule that each team have someone playing. Florida had Booth, Bryan McCabe and Vokoun on the electronic ballot. The three got minimal support, however, and received the fewest votes at their respective positions.

That's no concern to Dadonov, a skilled winger who will get to show off his moves in Saturday's skills competition.

Dadonov has been impressive at times since being called up from the minors on Dec. 7, and his strong play made veteran forward Steven Reinprecht expendable. When the Panthers started getting some forwards back off the injured list last month, instead of sending Dadonov back to their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., they waived Reinprecht and told Dadonov he could stick around.

Through 23 games, the 21-year-old born in Chelyabinsk, USSR, has four goals and seven assists.

“I think I have much more confidence now that I've gotten some points. I think I can play here,'' Dadonov said recently.

DeBoer would like to see Dadonov keep going hard and not let things like the Raleigh trip swell his head. If Dadonov was to “pull off the gas” for an extensive period of time, he could find himself back in the minors.

“Good things will happen if he keeps doing what he's been doing,'' DeBoer said. “As a coach, I want him to remember his day-to-day obligations and not get too wrapped up in the All-Star thing. He hasn't played that many games. He has to understand that this invitation doesn't mean he's arrived just yet. He's still a very young player. If it was up to me, would I be sending him? No. But good for him. This can be a good experience for him if he keeps it in perspective.''

DeBoer wasn't happy with Dadonov last season when he arrived to his first Panthers training camp out of shape and not really ready to compete. It's easy to see how that happened, what with Dadonov coming over from Russia for his first NHL camp. The NHL is a different game and Dadonov had to find that out.

Dadruss Dadonov, whose team in Russia at one time threatened to sue the Panthers over contractual issues, ended up spending almost the entire season in Rochester. One teammate after another was called up to help fill in with the Panthers, but Dadonov had to wait until the final weeks of the season to get his chance. Dadonov was recalled and played in the final four games of the season, finally making his NHL debut on April 6.

Dadonov didn't make the same mistake this year, trimming down and coming to camp looking like a different player. He was the star of the rookie camp held in Coral Springs and made a strong impression during his stay in camp.

“Last year, he came to camp and his conditioning was an issue. He was carrying too much weight,'' DeBoer said. “He made a real commitment to get into shape and looked like a different person this camp. He turned baby fat into muscle. That made a big impression on us. Once he got here, he made it so we can't take him out of the lineup. He's strong, he's skilled, he's good on the puck. He creates offense but is strong defensively.'' 

Dadonov admits he was confused by the Panthers reluctance to pull him away from the minors last year. By the time Florida brought him up, its season was over. Then it was back to Rochester for a brief run in the AHL playoffs. During the summer, Dadonov was quoted by a Russian news agency that he wanted assurances fro the Panthers that he would play in the NHL or return to Russia. Dadonov vehemently denied making the comments during training camp, saying he would go anywhere the Panthers wanted him to.

In hindsight, he says, spending last season in Rochester was a blessing. He may not be here now, going to the All-Star Game and hobnobbing with the league's biggest stars, had the Panthers not made him be patient.

“Now I see why it happened like that. I didn't understand anything when I got here. My English was bad, I didn't know the system,'' said Dadonov, who hopes to hang out with fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin this weekend.

“This was a different hockey, a different life. This year is much easier than last year. I can handle this much better because of what I went through last season. I came here to play NHL hockey and the AHL was that first step.

“I'm happy right now. Everything is going along to my plan.''


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Why wouldnt PD want him going to the alss star game? He can only elevate is confidence and game, to be surrounded with high quality players. What would he be doing here, playing 18 at parkland?

I dont get PD ...

10 years of losing, many 1st round picks, panthers have ZERO players on the REAL All star team.


DeBoer's doing it precisely because he wants Dadanov to keep his feet on the ground, which makes perfect sense. Keep him hungry, keep him working, keep him developing--because what's coming from Dadanov in the future will most likely be something brilliant. We've all seen good, young talents start backsliding as soon as they think they've "made it." Good job, Pete. Don't listen to the haters.

for those that think the panthers will still make the playoffs an interesting stat from QMI


The number of teams that have moved into a playoff position in the Eastern Conference in the past two months. The same eight teams in the East held down playoff positions as of the all-star break as did on Nov. 22. Interestingly enough, the Carolina Hurricanes were in ninth place on Nov. 22, one point behind the Atlanta Thrashers. On Jan. 27, the 'Canes were in ninth, one point behind the Thrashers.

doesn't look good, the fact that some games are worth 2 points and others 3 points really hurts teams trying to move up in the standings.

the league needs to consider 3 pts for regulation win, 2 pts for ot or shootout win and 1 pt for ot or shootout loss, that way teams will play for regulation wins instead of playing for the one point and it will allow teams to move up in the standings

why did we put grabner on waivers again.we suck




man i have to agree with you everything you said no one could say it better ! its not a good start for tallon!!!! it looks like he is following suit as if he thought no one would pick him up on waivers.
this pisses me off i bet every panther fan feels the same! its the same friggen thing every year . And in my eyes tallon has one good shot this summer with all the free agents leaving and free money hes going to have we will actually get a good grip on his skills as a gm. he better bring in a goal scorer ! because honestly i think he got lucky with the blackhawks picking guys like kane and toews this are one in every 10 years kids!

tallon is looking like a joke just like every other 20 gms going through this franchise its a joke grabner by the end of the season will have more goals them booth and weiss together

BOOM could have drafted skinner
BOOM could of kept grabner
BOOM booth had a luckey year in 08-09
BOOM weiss is to small for first line
BOOM tallon got luckey in chicago
BOOM pete debroer should stick to junior
BOOM stillman dvorak mccabe are old & terrible
BOOM could of drafted staal and other superstar
BOOM yorkman is a joke to hockey
BOOM there goes this franchise back to canada

The reason Grabner was put on waivers was to send him down to the minors because he was the worst player on the team during pre-season. Period.

BOOM you are a moron
BOOM stupidest post yet
BOOM did I mention you're a moron?

BOOM could have used spell-check.


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