Ed Jovanovski was the first Windsor and Essex County hockey player to be selected first overall in a National Hockey League entry draft, which launched a career that saw him play more than 1,000 games in the National Hockey League as one of the finest two-way defencemen of his era.
Born and raised in Windsor, Ed didn’t start playing hockey until age 11, but quickly developed into a dominant two-way defenceman through his AAA travel hockey years and a year in Junior B with the Tecumseh Chiefs (now LaSalle Vipers). Ed was selected by his hometown Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League selection draft and would star for the Spitfires for two seasons, earning OHL First All-Star, Second All-Star and All-Rookie team honours. In the 1994 NHL entry draft, the Florida Panthers made Ed the first overall pick. A year later, he would become an integral part of the Panthers when they made their memorable run to the 1995-96 Stanley Cup finals, a season that saw Ed earn All-Rookie team honours and finish in the top 3 in Calder Cup voting for the league’s top rookie performer. Ed would spend three more seasons with the Panthers before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks, where he would continue to be ranked among the NHL’s best defencemen. While in Vancouver he would win three straight Babe Pratt Awards as the Canucks’ best defenceman. Identified as one of the league’s best all-around defensive players, Ed remained a perpetual candidate for the James Norris Trophy. Free agency brought him to Phoenix in 2006, where he starred for the Coyotes through 2010. Ed returned to the Panthers in 2011 for the final three seasons of his career.
Internationally, Ed represented Canada with a gold medal performance at the 1995 World Junior Championship, and at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, he was part of the Canadian team that ended Canada’s 52-year hockey gold medal drought. He was also a member of the Canadian team at the Men’s World Championships, winning silver in 2005 and 2008. He also represented Canada at the 2004 World Cup, limited to one game due to injury, in the championship-winning tournament.
Author of one of the finest professional hockey careers among Windsor and Essex County’s many NHL alumni, Ed Jovanovski now takes his richly-deserved place next to those very same men in the Windsor / Essex County Sports Hall of Fame, in the Athlete category.