Panthers bench slumping Stephen Weiss

Stephen Weiss has been one of the most consistent two-way players in franchise history, so his season-long slump on both ends of the ice has been baffling to coach Kevin Dineen, who finally sent the veteran center a stern message during and after Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Boston.

Dineen not only moved a listless Weiss from the top line to the fourth line as the game progressed but he benched him for all but two shifts in the third period, including the final 6:01 when the outcome was still in doubt.

Weiss, who played a season-low 15:14, has picked the worst time to have one goal and three assists in 14 games to go with his NHL-worse minus-11 on-ice rating (tied with former Panther Olli Jokinen).

“That made it much easier for me to have him sitting there and not part of the equation with the quality of hockey he’s playing right now,” a grim Dineen said after the game of normally leaning on Weiss at every turn.

Weiss, 29, who was surprisingly passed over for the captaincy this season, got off to a slow start partly due to a groin injury and flu. But he told the Sun Sentinel last week that he’s completely healthy.,0,3242801.story