It’s throwback Thursday and this week we take a look at former Arizona Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski. Jovanovski was drafted by the Florida Panthers number one overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.
As a Windsor Spitfire ‘JovoCop’ scored 23 goals, 42 assists, and 65 points in 50 games. In a draft that has been labeled as one of the weaker drafts in NHL history (notable players include Oleg Tverdovsky, Radek Bonk, Jose Theodore, and Daniel Alfredsson), Jovanovski was easily the top player entering the draft.
A career lasting 18 seasons, spread out over two tours with the Florida Panthers, seven years with the Canucks, and five with the Coyotes was highlighted with a trip to the 1995-96 Stanley Cup Finals.
The 1995-96 Panthers were a true Cinderella story reaching the Cup Finals before ultimately being swept by the Colorado Avalanche. Other than Scott Mellanby and John Vanbiesbrouck, honestly try to name another player on that Florida roster.
Jovanovski was incredible as a rookie, scoring 10 goals, 11 assists and 21 points, but his effectiveness as a shutdown defenseman on a team of grinders, was most impressive. Jovo spent the next three seasons playing for the Panthers before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks. Ed was the centerpiece in the trade that brought Pavel Bure to the Panthers. The trade (though I still have no clue how the Canucks were that stupid to get rid of the best goal scorer that I have ever seen) ended up being beneficial to both teams.
The Panthers were now a team that could actually score (Bure led the league in goals twice while on Florida) and Jovanovski ended up being an integral piece on one of the best Canuck rosters of all time. On a team that featured Todd Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund, the Sedin twins, and Trevor Linden, Jovanovski was an alternate captain and scored 234 points in 434 games. What makes his numbers even more impressive is the fact that he played during the ‘dead puck era’. Scoring during the early 2000’s was so low that the league had to change the rules (two-line passes, the size of goalie pads, shootouts, etc.).
On June 1, 2006 the (then) Phoenix Coyotes signed Ed Jovanovski to a $32.5-million, five-year contract. The Coyotes were still a struggling team, but Jovanovski wanted a chance to play for Wayne Gretzky, the Coyotes head coach at the time. Jovanovski upgraded an already deep Coyote blue line and scored double digit goals in three of his five seasons with the team. In 2008 he started what would be an extensive list of solid defenseman rostered by the Coyotes.
Two of the aforementioned defensemen were all-stars; Keith Yandle (2011, 2012) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (2015, 2018).
Jovanovski made his way back to Florida and played the final three seasons of his career with the Panthers before hanging it up after the 2013-14 season. He finished his career with 137 goals, 363 assists, and 500 points (164 of those point came in a Coyotes sweater).
So what is Jovanovski up to now?
Shortly after retiring Jovo spent some much needed time with his family. Rather than uprooting, he and his family stayed in Florida where they currently reside. In 2019, he returned to the Florida Panthers for his third stint with the team, this time as a broadcaster. He and former NHL defenseman, South Florida resident and longtime Panthers season ticket holder Jeff Chychrun (the father of Coyote defenseman Jakob) cover the Panthers home games.
It’s great seeing Jovo still in hockey and strangely enough, close with one of our best player’s family. Ed Jovanovski should be remembered as one of the top five defensemen in Coyotes’ history. Thanks for the years of service!