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If Weiss has played last game for Panthers, ‘it’s been a good ride’

Mar 6, 2013, 4:07 PM EDT

Stephen Weiss Getty Images

Stephen Weiss thinks it would be “awesome” to finish his career with the Florida Panthers, but he’s also realistic.

Weiss, a pending unrestricted free agent, spoke with reporters today prior to undergoing season-ending wrist surgery next week. The 29-year-old center who was drafted fourth overall by the Panthers in 2001 recognizes he may have played his last game for the only NHL organization he’s ever known.

“It’s definitely not the way I would have written it if that is the case,” said Weiss, per NHL.com. “It kind of burns at me that this is the way it could be going out, but you know what, that’s life sometimes. You’ve got to deal with the cards you’re dealt.

“If it is the last game, it’s the last game, and I hope that everyone understands why I made this decision. It’s been a good ride.”

Weiss — the Panthers’ second-leading scoring in franchise history (394 points), behind Olli Jokinen (419) — would draw considerable interest in free agency should he decide to test the waters.

And with a number of veteran forwards already under contract (Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg, Scottie Upshall, Tomas Kopecky), combined with a talented crop of youngsters (Jonathan Huberdeau, Drew Shore, Quinton Howden, Peter Mueller), Florida may decide that joining the bidding for Weiss doesn’t make sense.

The Panthers were faced with a similar decision when defenseman Jason Garrison became an unrestricted free agent last summer. Ultimately, Garrison signed a big deal with the Canucks.

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