Some of the greatest players who have ever stepped on the ice gathered in Los Angeles on Friday as the NHL honored its best as part of its 100th anniversary celebration.
The league unveiled the players who make up their NHL 100 team in a glitzy, made-for-Hollywood event at the Microsoft Theater.
The Florida Panthers were part of the fun.
Three players who took the ice for the Panthers were named to the team as were three who had ties to the organization over the years.
Jaromir Jagr, one of six active players on the NHL 100, was the final player brought onto the stage. Now second on the NHL’s all-time scoring list, Jagr said he was honored “to be on the same stage” as the other greats of the game.
Pavel Bure, who played for the Panthers from 1999-2002, and Joe Nieuwendyk (2005-06) were also honored.
“This is very special, no doubt about it,” Jagr said afterward. “I always said if you don’t know hockey history, you’re not going to be a very good hockey player.
“You have to appreciate the guys who played before us; they made the game better. They are a perfect example for us and they were idols for us. We learned to play hockey because of them.”
Florida broadcaster Denis Potvin, who joined the organization for its first season and continues serving as the team analyst, was part of the group of players from the 1980s who were honored.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, Potvin captained the Islanders to four Stanley Cups from 1979-83 and retired in 1988.
Bobby Clarke, the captain of the Flyers’ Broad Street Bullies team, was Florida’s first general manager before going back to Philadelphia after the inaugural season.
Billy Smith, the long-time Islanders goalie, was Florida’s goalie coach from its first season through 2000.
Bill Torrey, the architect of those powerhouse Islanders teams, brought Potvin, Clarke and Smith to Florida when he began assembling the expansion Panthers.
Torrey is still with the team and was one of 58 members of the panel who helped selected the NHL 100. Former Florida goalie Kevin Weekes was also on the panel.