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Fan reaction: General Manager Dale Tallon hits reset button on Florida Panthers, reshapes future for team
Dale Tallon was brought to South Florida with one goal in mind: build a championship-caliber club.
Considering the Florida Panthers are certain to miss the playoffs this season for their NHL-record 10th-straight year, that was and is a tall order, but is a challenge Tallon relishes and is more than capable of fulfilling; given time.
As a suffering fan of the Panthers since their inception, watching as they've failed year in and year out to put a winning team on the ice, I'm more than willing to give Tallon that time, and all the support I can put forth as he does his best to navigate through the intricate highways of trades, free agency, and drafts to build the team right.
He did it before, taking over the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005 and through wise trades, free agent signings, and draft picks, such as players like Patrick Kane(notes) and Jonathan Toews(notes); he was able to mold the Blackhawks into a perennial NHL contender that just this past year won the Stanley Cup Championship.
Now, some will claim that was Stan Bowman's team, as Tallon was demoted to a position of Senior Advisor when Bowman, the son of Scotty Bowman, was promoted to general manager on July 14, 2009, but those who do simply don't know much about hockey, and certainly don't know much about the situation.
The players themselves supported Tallon so much despite his falling out with ownership their efforts resulted in Tallon's name being engraved on the Stanley Cup and Dale receiving a Championship ring this past October on his 60th birthday.
Simply put, Tallon was the true mastermind behind the resurgence of the Blackhawks, and as stated above, he's been brought to South Florida to do the same.
Well, these past two weeks have seen him take many of the first steps on that journey toward relevance, as he made trade after trade, sending players like Cory Stillman(notes), Brian McCabe, Chris Higgins(notes), Dennis Wideman(notes), Bryan Allen(notes), and even longtime Panther Radek Dvorak(notes) (the last remaining tie to the 1996 Panthers team that made the Stanley Cup Finals) on their way in exchange for draft picks and young prospects.
Some in the media, like George Richards of the Miami Herald in one of his recent articles titled Florida Panthers Pull Four More Trades Before Deadline, have called it a payroll purge, using hyperbole to describe Tallon's actions, but I feel such rhetoric isn't indicative of what's really taking place.
South Florida fans are all-too familiar with payroll purges, or "fire-sales" as they've been labeled when describing the actions of another Miami franchise, the Florida Marlins. However, unlike those MLB baseball teams run by Wayne Huizenga and others that were champions when the fire-sales occurred, the Panthers are anything but.
What Tallon is doing with the South Beach's NHL franchise could more aptly be described as hitting the reset button on a computer; for as with a computer that's crashed, and frozen up, the Panthers were mired in mediocrity and pathetic play.
While it may have benefited them in the short run to go the other way and sign a few free agent players to possibly move themselves up into a position to be fighting for an eighth-seed in the postseason, it would have done nothing for their long-term prospects.
Something drastic needed to be done in order to start all over; hoping to build the franchise right this time.
The pieces are in place. Tallon held on to a talented core of players that include Tomas Vokoun(notes), Marty Reasoner(notes), Stephen Weiss(notes), and David Booth(notes), and with young talent like Nicklas Bergfors likely to be inserted into the Panther's top lines to see what they can give Florida next year, Tallon will be a very busy man over the rest of the season evaluating and planning his next steps.
One thing he won't be hampered with is a lack of money to spend on free agents next season. As Richards points out in his article, all of the moves Tallon has made have given him the financial flexibility going forward (probably around $40 million in cap space) to do whatever he pleases.
As Tallon put it himself, "We have lots of money to spend. We have a lot freed up for next year. We're going to be very aggressive on the free agent market. It's going to be hot and heavy come July." (George Richards, Miami Herald)
So, it's easy to see Tallon isn't satisfied with this process taking half a decade to complete. I'm confident there's a good chance Florida will end their playoff drought come next season, and I'll be looking forward to all the offseason moves and free agent signings Tallon masterminds.
He's doing it the old-fashioned way; he's building a winner and he's not about to take shortcuts.
Here's to seeing the possibility of a bunch of Florida Panthers fans hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup high in the air at center ice at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida someday soon.
It may be sooner than most might want to think.
All stats and information taken from personal notes and verified at Yahoo! Sports.
Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports.
Richards, George. (2010). Miami Herald. Florida Panthers Pull Four More Trades Before Deadline.
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