Heading down the stretch, the Florida Panthers
are in an unfamiliar position -- fighting for a playoff spot and the Southeast Division title with 20 games to go.
Their success to date has surprised many, perhaps even the team's architect.
"It's our first act. We've got a long way to go and I'm not going to mortgage the future just to get a little early success. Success for me is being a Stanley Cup winner and contender for a lot of years to come. ... We are on the right track and I feel really good about our future as well."
-- Panthers' GM Dale Tallon
"With 13 or 14 new players now, a new coaching staff and all the injuries we have accumulated over the year, I take my hat off to the players and the coaching staff for playing so hard and buying in to what we are trying to do here," said Panthers Executive Vice President and General Manager Dale Tallon
When Tallon was hired by the Florida Panthers
in May 2010, the ownership group hailed his arrival as the beginning of a new chapter in club history. With his team heading into the final five weeks of the season with a very real possibility of earning a playoff berth for the first time in 12 years, Tallon is inching closer to putting his stamp on what he prefers to call "the first act."
"We are in the first phase of what we are trying to accomplish," he said. "I would say it's a three-phase situation and let's say it's Act 1 and we are ahead of schedule."