Dale Tallon came in with a “Blueprint”, and the Florida Panthers are going to make sure that he sees it through to its end. It was announced today that the Panthers organization has agreed on a deal with the general manager to extend his contract. Per team policy, the number of years and amount of money is not disclosed, but the extension is being described as “multiyear”.
In his short tenure with the Panthers, Tallon has risen to become one of the best general managers in the league. He began his reputation by turning around the Chicago Blackhawks, a team with the lowest attendence in the league and arguably the worst product on the ice. Through some aggressive trading and a lot of smart drafting, he laid the groundwork for an eventual Stanley Cup-winning franchise. Even though he had left the GM position of the Blackhawks before their championship season, his fingerprints were undoubtedly all over that team.
His next job would be his current one, as Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Florida Panthers. In only a couple of drafts and offseasons, Tallon has skyrocketed the future of the franchise. In his first full year with the Panthers, after some savvy free agent signings and trades, he built the team up from a last place 72-point finisher to a 94-point division winner. His signings of Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky, and Jose Theodore breathed new life into a historically inept franchise, bringing playoff hockey and a renewed excitement into a fanbase with nothing much to cheer about since the turn of the century. His hiring of coach Kevin Dineen might be the best move of all: he was fantastic in his first season as an NHL coach and will win a Jack Adams in his career.
But his job might be even better below the NHL level. Almost unanimously across the board, hockey websites have declared that the Panthers have the most talented and deepest pool of prospects. Guys like Jonathan Huberdeau, Quinton Howden, and Jacob Markstrom are destined to become stars with the Panthers within the next few years. Even other guys like Rocco Grimaldi, Alex Petrovic, and Colby Robak have potential to be big time players for Florida. Tallon has built a team that can succeed in the present, but also could contend for the Stanley Cup in the near future.
But if you’re a Panther fan, you already know what Dale has done for this team and this fanbase, and I don’t need names and numbers to convince you what a positive effect he has had. The fanbase, long dormant, has awoken from its lull and now can be expected to pack the BankAtlantic Center. The team, once with low expectations, is expected to make playoff runs and win the division from here on out. It seems like everything Dale has touched has turned to gold. The franchise is headed in the right direction now in nearly every way. That is why Tallon should win the General Manager of the Year award in a month or so, another accomplishment to add to a growing list with the Panthers.
So here’s to you, Dale. Congratulations are in order for your extension, and hopefully you can stick with us all the way. Now we can focus on resigning Jason Garrison, right?
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