May 17, 2010
Steve Gorten of the Sun-Sentinel broke the news Monday afternoon that Dale Tallon, former general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, will replace Randy Sexton as GM of the Florida Panthers. Tallon will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday morning. TSN's Bob McKenzie Tweeted a follow-up that Sexton was let go with his contract expiring at the end of June.
Sexton assumed the GM duties of the Panthers in a temporary role last June when Jacques Martin bolted to take over the head-coaching job in Montreal. He was given full reign of the position on October 2, and watched Florida post its lowest point total since the 2003-04 season. It was a trying season that saw the franchise's new owners wave the white flag in mid-February by posting an honest and open letter to fans on the team's website, detailing the need for change while the team was six points out of a playoff spot.
Tallon, who spent the 2009-10 season as Chicago's senior advisor of hockey operations, spoke Monday afternoon about taking over in Florida via Chris Kuc of Chicago Breaking Sports:
"I'm excited. To get an opportunity to be in the NHL as a general manager is quite an honor. It's important that we build for the future and keep developing our good young players like we did in Chicago.
"Obviously, it's a bittersweet moment. Thirty-three years in one organization, it's never easy. I must do what's right for myself and my family. I'm excited about my future."
You'll remember last summer when Tallon was caught in the middle of a paperwork snafu regarding the contracts of six Blackhawks players. Nine days later, Tallon was removed as GM and replaced by Stan Bowman.
Tallon will have his work cut out for him with the Panthers locked into $46 million worth of contracts for next season and a fanbase that hasn't seen playoff hockey since the 1999-2000 season.
With new owners and now a new general manager, the changes in the Panthers' organization have only just begun. The team has the third pick in the upcoming Entry Draft, and there are some heavy contracts like Tomas Vokoun(notes) and Nathan Horton's(notes) that may be moved to not only shake up the roster, but also give Tallon some salary-cap flexibility.