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Panthers name Rowe general manager

Front office changes include Tallon's promotion to president of hockey operations

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers restructured their hockey operations Monday but insisted the changes were in title only.

Tom Rowe was named general manager; Dale Tallon, who had been the GM since 2010, was promoted to president of hockey operations; and Eric Joyce and Steve Werier each was named assistant GM.

"This is really a formalization of the way we've been operating, frankly," Panthers executive chairman Peter Luukko said. "Dale obviously has been here the longest and has put together this team through the draft and some trades. We believed it was time to formalize the way we've frankly been operating.

"It's very much a collaborative effort here. With that [salary] cap you really need people with varied specializations. From our standpoint our organization is evolving. We've had success and we want to continue that success and strengthen our bench, and put together a first-class organization."

Rowe had been named associate general manger in January. He has been with the Panthers since 2013-14, when he was hired as coach of San Antonio, the Panthers' American Hockey League affiliate, to replace Peter Horachek, who had been named Panthers interim coach.

"I think it's an opportunity of a lifetime for myself to have the opportunity to work with Dale," Rowe said. "All my role is going to be is to continue building the vision that Dale set out and to help execute the long-term plan. It's certainly an expanded front office at this point after today, but it's going to be a group effort. We'll make decisions as a group; the best decisions are made as a group. Make no mistake about it, this is Dale's team. He's the one that built it. He's the one that found these players, and I'm here to support Dale and be loyal to Dale."

Though emphasizing that every decision will be made as a group, Luukko said that if there was a lack of consensus about which player to draft, for example, Tallon would have final say.

"At the end of the day, if there's a coin flip, Dale will make that flip," Luukko said. 

Tallon, who signed a multiyear contract extension Jan. 1, will continue to oversee all aspects of hockey operations in his new role, including scouting, player acquisition and development. He will become less involved in the business side, namely player contracts, which Tallon supports.

"I'm happy to do that," he said. "I wasn't a big fan of doing contracts. You do what you have to do, but now that we have a great staff in Tom and Eric and Steve and all of us together, it frees me up to do what I think I do best, and that's go scout, evaluate talent, mentor our young guys and help develop them. That's basically what I love to do. I like going to rinks. I like freezing my rear end off in a rink. That's what I enjoy most about this job."

Joyce was GM of the Panthers' American Hockey League affiliate this season, a role he will continue to hold. Werier was Panthers vice president of legal and business affairs, and will continue as vice president of legal affairs.

Joyce is considered an analytics specialist. Rowe said that though he's a believer in analytics, he said it's only part of the evaluation process.

"Eric is a bright guy, works with the analytics side of things, the stats," Rowe said. "But again, it's only one component that we're using. It's supplemental information that we think is important. Dale believes in it. I believe in it. When you're making decisions in the National Hockey League today, you're talking about an awful lot of money, and if it helps you limit your mistakes, that's what we're going to be using it for."

The Panthers won the Atlantic Division this season, setting team records with 47 wins and 103 points. They lost to the New York Islanders in six games in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"This is a great day for the organization as it ensures continuity within the hockey operations department," Panthers owner Vincent Viola said in a press release. "I have the utmost confidence in Dale's vision and leadership and this group's ability to build on this year's [Stanley Cup] Playoff appearance and make the Panthers a Stanley Cup contender for years to come."

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