There were several strong candidates to wear the "C" on a Florida Panthers jersey this season.

But when coach Kevin Dineen gathered the team at the BB&T Center during Friday's practice and bestowed the honor of captain on veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski the endorsement came in the hockey tradition of sticks banging on the ice. It was immediate and unanimous.

"We're definitely happy for Jovo. He deserves it," said center Stephen Weiss, who was named as an alternate captain along with defenseman Brian Campbell. "Jovo has been around a long time, has been through a lot in this league, and he's a perfect guy to have as our captain — a guy to look up to."

Jovanovski, who played on the Panthers' Eastern Conference championship team in 1996 and returned last season after 12 years elsewhere, becomes the franchise's seventh captain. The others were Brian Skrudland (1993-1997), Scott Mellanby (1997-2001), Paul Laus/Pavel Bure (2001-2002), Olli Jokinen (2005-2008) and Bryan McCabe (2009-2011).

"I think it's every kid's dream at some point to captain a team. ... Having the opportunity to be a captain of this team, I think it's special [being] the team that I was drafted by and started my career, the team I'm going to finish with. To be able to lead the team, I'm honored," said Jovanovski, who will begin his 18th season in Saturday's opener against Carolina.

The Panthers haven't had a captain since McCabe was traded during the 2010-11 season. Last season Dineen opted to go with four alternate captains: Jovanovski, Weiss, Campbell and Tomas Kopecky. Jovanovski also wore the "A" for Vancouver and Phoenix.

Dineen, who as a player captained Philadelphia and Hartford, said he made the decision last summer.

"I used to have to look up to him when I played against him. He was a pain to play against. That started at 18," Dineen said. "The way he played last year really solidified it for me that he can be an influential player both on and off the ice.