There were plenty of fireworks emanating from Florida Panthers headquarters Friday on the first day of the free agency period.
GM Dale Tallon addressed all three areas of the ice by signing veteran goalie Jose Theodore, forwards Scottie Upshall and Marcel Goc and bringing back former Panthers defenseman Ed Jovanovski (pictured at left).
Should add to the festive mood at Monday’s July 4 celebration in the parking lot of the BankAtlantic Center. Sunrise Sports & Entertainment is joining with the city of Sunrise in the free community event outside the arena where the Panthers hope to make more noise than they have in years.
The celebration is from 5-10 p.m., featuring live music, food vendors and family fun zone activities. The Gin Blossoms will play at 6 p.m. Fireworks show is at 9. Lawn chairs and umbrellas are permitted in the parking area.
Good chance to gather and discuss the Panthers flurry of acquisitions. Though none of Friday’s signings are stars in their prime, the moves mark a long-overdue departure from reliance on the potential of youth that too often didn’t pan out.
Jovanovski, at 35, is no longer the player that earned five All-Star selections, but Tallon is banking on him having enough left in the tank to justify a four-year contract. Jovo, part of the Panthers’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996, will join with newly acquired Brian Campbell to provide the top defense combo missing through the long playoff drought.
Theodore, 34, is a former Vezina and Hart Trophy winner, and at this stage of his career a wash for Tomas Vokoun walking away.
Question will be, did Tallon overpay for these guys or will the Panthers finally send out a gritty veteran cast not seen since Jovanovski was a youngster.
For now, the realization that they will not be the same old Panthers is worth a cascade of fireworks.