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Florida Panthers John Madden Quick to Get into Swing of Things ... Notes from Cats and Avs

MaddencatsDENVER – John Madden wasn't smiling when he came out of the Panthers locker room to partake in the age-old pregame ritual of reworking his stick before making his debut with the team on January 6.

That's because he was too nervous to smile. 

“I felt like a rookie again,'' Madden said.

Before taking the ice with the Panthers that night in New Jersey, Madden hadn't played since his final game with the Minnesota Wild on April 2. Madden waited throughout the summer for a contract offer that never came. Then the season started. Someone was sure to call, right?

Finally, in December, the injury ravaged Panthers called the three-time Stanley Cup champ to see if he was interested in playing hockey down south.

“This is a great group to play with and the system here fits me well,'' Madden said before Florida's late game against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.

“I'm still trying to find my way through some things, but I'm having fun. Even though I haven't put up any points, I feel I am contributing to the team on a daily basis. Moving forward, I think I'll fit in more and do more on the ice.''

Madden made his debut with the Panthers just two days after signing a pro-rated one-year contract with the team. Although the Panthers had discussed sending Madden to the minors for a few games to get ready, they never did.

“I'm not going to lie, it wasn't easy although I'm glad to have gotten into games so early,'' Madden said. “I sat home for eight months and that was very difficult. They have really helped me acclimate myself.''

Before the Panthers officially signed Madden – he had visa issues he had to take care of – former teammates praised his hard-nosed style of play and how quickly he would adapt to the Panthers. 

They seemingly were right on. Madden may have showed signs of rust in his third game back with the team against Vancouver, but aside from that, he's played strong.

Coach Kevin Dineen joked that it would be easier for Madden to play his style after months off, comparing him to a Ford F-150 that had been sitting in a garage. “They usually fire right up,'' Dineen said. 

“He's definitely an intelligent player,'' Dineen said.


The Panthers gave up on Russian winger Evgenii Dadonov on Wednesday, trading him and center A.J. Jenks to Carolina for a pair of prospects. Dadonov was Florida's lone representative at last year's All-Star Weekend (he played in the future game) but had a poor training camp and was sent to AHL San Antonio soon after the season started.

Dadonov, 22, played in 15 games for the Panthers this season with two goals and an assist. He had eight goals in 36 games last season.

Florida got AHL center Jonathan Matsumoto and 20-year-old winger Mattias Lindstrom from the Hurricanes. Lindstrom, a third round pick in 2009, is playing in Sweden this year. 

() Defenseman Ed Jovanovski had surgery on his broken right hand on Wednesday and Dineen said the 35-year-old could be out as long as two months. Jovanovski broke his hand during a first period fight Monday. 

() Center Stephen Weiss played in his 600th NHL game on Wednesday, all of which coming with the Panthers. Weiss is 13 games away from tying Radek Dvorak in becoming the team's all-time leader in games played.

() Goalie Jose Theodore was back in net for the Panthers after missing the past few weeks after tweaking a knee after getting run over Dec. 31 against the Canadiens. Theodore spent parts of three seasons with the Avalanche. “I have a lot of good memories from here,'' he said.

For complete coverage of Florida's late game against Colorado, visit The Miami Herald's On Frozen Pond blog at http://bit.ly/2LyIGw