First of all apologies to some of the great players of the previous incarnation of the Panthers which ended in 1960. It would not be difficult to concede that the likes of Chick Zamick and Les Strongman operated at a higher level than any of the modern-day leagues. Their like would most certainly be shoe-ins for such a line-up otherwise. I am not of a generation that was old enough to be entertained by the great and the good from the early chapters of the Panthers’ glorious golden era.
I have watched the Nottingham team on and off from it’s re-inception from 1980 to present day. I’ve had the great pleasure in admiring some fine talent during those years and so many special players stand out in the memory. Indeed it is incredibly difficult to leave out some wonderful performers over the years and some personal favourites in particular. After racking my memory, I have distilled the players of the modern era down to these six choices. Feel free to disagree! (I probably will by tomorrow…)
G: Trevor Robins
Easily the best modern era goalie for me. Temperamental at times, his hot temper could sometimes land him in trouble with the officals to the detriment of the team. Otherwise a superbly focused individual with a great technique. Trevor Robbins was a player with desire and attitude – a winner.
D: Nick Boynton
What more need be said about a defenceman who left the Panthers after a short stay during the NHL lock-out to resume his ‘proper’ job with the Boston Bruins? Boynton didn’t often exhibit his (several) extra gears in a Panthers jersey but then he didn’t need to. When he did it was to devastating effect.
D: Roy Mitchell
I don’t often hear Mitchell’s name mentioned amongst Panthers fanatics but believe he was extremely underrated. Good strong physical presence on the blue line and read the game extremely well. Strong passing, organisational skills and leadership were three more of his many qualities.
RW: Paul Adey
Occasionally a slightly selfish player but his stats proved his great worth the team. Nottingham Panthers ‘Mr. Dependable’ for many a season, Paul was a true professional. Always turned up fit and ready to go from the very beginning of every season. A dangerous and dynamic presence on the right wing or at centre coupled with an excellent and dedicated work ethic.
C: Jimmy Keyes
Some may point to British hockey being of a lesser standard when Jimmy was playing but he had the skill and tenacity to operate well in any era. I have never seen a harder working player in the Black and Gold than the centreman from Thunder Bay Ontario. Chasing lost causes a speciality, Jim’s industrious forechecking kept many a team on the backfoot. He could score too. Every team needs a Jimmy Keyes – preferably more than one.
LW: P C Drouin
Simply a ‘Rolls-Royce’ hockey player. A smooth skater who always had time to do what he wanted on the ice. A player with a good two-way game and not frightened to throw a heavy check or two. Finishing was Pierre-Claude’s speciality however. I’ve rarely seen any British player who could deke a goalie quite the way he could. He always had an extra move to put on the netminder at the last moment. This was often shown to great effect in end of game shoot-outs where he rarely failed. Good size and temperament completes a great package that the stylish French-Canadian brought to the ice every game.