Florida Panthers

Willie Mitchell honored to be named Florida Panthers captain

Dallas Stars' Erik Cole (72) and Florida Panthers' Willie Mitchell (33) compete for control of the puck during a preseason game, Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, in Dallas.
Dallas Stars' Erik Cole (72) and Florida Panthers' Willie Mitchell (33) compete for control of the puck during a preseason game, Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, in Dallas. AP

When Ed Jovanovski was announced as the seventh captain in Florida Panthers history, then-coach Kevin Dineen did it following a practice.

On Monday, Willie Mitchell got the news atop a mountain in New York.

Mitchell was presented with a red game jersey with the “C” on the front Monday on Mount Tourne at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point where the team is spending a few days of training before its season opener.

Mitchell is one of eight new players on the roster of a team that has a new head coach in Gerard Gallant as well as two new assistant coaches.

Florida veterans Brian Campbell and Scottie Upshall were named assistant captains as were newcomers Derek MacKenzie and Dave Bolland.

“It’s flattering in one sense but it’s also a big responsibility,” Mitchell said. “I haven’t chatted with a lot of people about it so it kind of caught me off guard. I heard grumblings, but I was a bit surprised at the top of the hill. . . . It’s not something I’m going to take lightly. When you wear that, it’s an honor. A lot of great people in the league represent their team that way.”

The 37-year-old defenseman, who has won two of the past three Stanley Cup championships with Los Angeles, has already been hailed as a leader inside the Panthers locker room. Mitchell also served as a rotating captain with Minnesota in 2006.

“It was really important for us to go after guys like Willie who are not only great hockey players, but great guys in the room as well,” said goalie Roberto Luongo, who played with Mitchell in Vancouver.

“Willie has been there, knows what it takes, knows what a winning locker room looks and feels like. There are some things people may not see off the ice. Helping these young kids see what they need to do is important.”

▪ The Panthers made a trade to bolster their depth Monday, trading forward Joey Crabb to the Rangers in exchange for defenseman Stephen Kampfer and Broward-born winger Andrew Yogan.

Crabb was on a one-way deal with the Panthers but had already been reassigned to their AHL team in San Antonio. Kampfer and Yogan are expected to report to the Rampage in the coming days.

Florida also signed free agent defenseman Shane O’Brien to a one-year, two-way deal meaning he will start the season in San Antonio. Colby Robak makes the Panthers as the roster is now set at 23.

Kampfer, 26, has played in 61 NHL games but has spent the past two seasons in the AHL.

Yogan, who played youth hockey in Lighthouse Point and was a member of the Junior Panthers in Coral Springs, has spent the past two seasons bouncing between the Rangers’ AHL and ECHL affiliates.

Florida had a chance to draft Yogan, who left South Florida at age 15 to play Canadian junior hockey, in 2010 but did not. Yogan was picked by the Rangers with the 100th overall selection that year – one spot after Florida took Joonas Donskoi (who is no longer in the organization).

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