Mortar of the Coaching Staff: Rob Tallas

Most Panthers’ fans know that Kevin Dineen has replaced Peter Deboer as head coach. Unfortunately, that is usually the extent of common knowledge. A head coach needs a staff that can work together to put the best product on the ice. The Panthers have brought in depth, adding Craig Ramsay to be an assistant coach who can turn around the league’s worst power play, and retaining Gord Murphy to continue organizing a penalty kill that surprisingly ranked 6th in the NHL. Two other coaches are often overlooked, Craig Slaunwhite, who I covered last week, and goaltending coach Rob Tallas.

Coaches Dineen, Murphy, and Ramsay were all former NHL players. Robert Wayne “Robbie” Tallas also saw action in 99 games at the NHL level. Tallas was a netminder for two NHL teams, the Boston Bruins from 1995 to 2000, and the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2000-2001 season. His career in total spanned from 1991, with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, to 2004-05 with Salzbug EC of the Austrian League. Notable stops along the way included stints with the Providence Bruins and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League.

Thirty eight year old Tallas is entering his third year as goaltending coach. The native of Edmonton, Alberta, has been frequently featured in Fox Sports Florida segments on goaltending. Tallas is very active at the Saveology Iceplex, where he is an instructor during the Panther’s goaltending schools while also working to perfect up and coming talent in private lessons.

Tallas has an unfortunate commonality with new Panther’s foward Tomas Fleishmann. The events of New Year’s Eve 2003 must still be fresh in Tallas’ mind. At the time, Tallas was the starting goaltender for HPK Hameenlinna of the Finnish Elite League. In November after he expierenced what felt like heartburn, doctors suggested some rest, and he returned to play around Christmas. However, things turned for the worse after he returned from a road trip on New Year’s Eve. Tallas collapsed, telling his wife, “I think I’m having a heart attack.” After being rushed to the hospital, doctors were able to get him stabilized, although he would spend the next 9 days recovering from the ordeal. It turned out that Tallas had a blood clot that triggered the cardiac arrest.

Doctors recommended that Tallas return to the United States for treatment. He returned to the United States, but was left without insurance because of a contract dispute with HPK Hameenlinna. Tallas was able to get the treatment he needed thanks to his former team, the Boston Bruins.  Ray Bourque was among many who rallied to have Tallas receive care from the Bruins’ medical staff.

Today, Tallas is an important piece of the Panther’s future. There are many young goaltenders working their way up to the Panthers. Marc Cheverie, Tyler Plante, and Jacob Markstrom get to reap the benefits of having a world class teacher in Rob Tallas.

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Tags: Coaching Florida Panthers Jacob Markstrom Marc Cheverie Rob Tallas Tomas Fleischmann Tyler Plante

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