By Alain Poupart for floridapanthers.com
|Co-Managing Partner Cliff Viner, GM Dale Tallon and Alternate Governor Bill Torrey share a laugh during a press conference naming Tallon the new Panthers GM (Eliot Schechter) |
Sporting his customary bowtie, Bill Torrey sat at a table at the BankAtlantic Center on Tuesday for the press conference to formally announce the hiring of Dale Tallon as the Panthers’ new executive vice president and general manager.
It was Torrey who was charged by Panthers ownership to come up with a new general manager, and he’s confident the man he hired will mean more hockey games in May instead of press conferences.
“When I found out that Dale was available and interested, that’s where I went and I never wavered from that,” said Torrey, whose search began last offseason after Jacques Martin resigned his post to become head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
“I think that this day here, it’s a hockey day here at this arena. Hiring Dale, I think, in as short a time period as he can manage, we will have a hell of a lot more exciting days and games in this building in the month of May. It’s been a while since we’ve had it and I’m firmly convinced that he can lead us back to those days.”
For Tallon, he called the chance to join the Panthers the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I’m totally committed and totally excited,” Tallon said. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I’ve never felt so positive, so comfortable since day one, since we started talking about the possibility of me being the next general manager of the Florida Panthers.
“And I will do everything in my power to bring playoff hockey back to Florida and to eventually attain the goal of winning the Stanley Cup. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Tallon comes to the Panthers after spending a total of 33 years in the Chicago Blackhawks organization as a player, scout, broadcaster, assistant general, general manager and lastly as a senior advisor.
His fingerprints are all over the Blackhawks, currently holding a 1-0 lead over the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference final. It's Chicago’s second consecutive appearance in the league final four.
Tallon was Chicago’s GM when they drafted cornerstones Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, traded for key pieces Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg
, and signed marquee free agents Marian Hossa and Brian Campbell
“I’m committed to the blueprint that we developed in Chicago,” Tallon said. “I’m proud of that team, I’m proud of that organization, and I’m especially proud of those kids. And that’s the type of team we’re going to build here in Florida. People love those kids and the way they play, but I respect them more off the ice than I do on the ice.
“And the one thing that’s important to myself, and to Cliff (Viner), and to Bill, and Stu (Siegel), in my book is character. Our motto when we took over in Chicago was ‘Character, size, speed, skill and more character.’ And that’s what we’re going to adhere to.”
In addition to being one of the most successful teams in the league the last two years, the Blackhawks also have been one of the most exciting thanks to their fast-skating, wide-open style.
|New GM Dale Tallon (Eliot Schechter) |
That’s the kind of hockey Tallon wants to see at the BankAtlantic Center.
The Panthers and their fans have every reason to believe Tallon could help produce a turnaround and get the team back to the playoffs.
In Chicago, he took over as GM after the team went 20-43-11-8 in 2003-04 and had missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
Tallon said his starting point in Florida is better when it comes to talent level.
“I watched a lot of (Panthers) games this winter in Vero Beach and I came to a lot of games here, and we’re definitely in a better position than, say, when we started with Chicago,” Tallon said. “There’s some really good assets here. I’m excited about some of the young players they’ve got in their system. We have a few holes to fill, obviously, to get us to the next level.
“We need to add the proper people to make the chemistry right. The one thing that we did in Chicago is we made sure there was great chemistry on and off the ice. That’s what we’re going to look into. You can’t win without it. But the assets are there, there’s obviously some positions that we need to fill.”
Tallon said his hope is for the Panthers to make the playoffs next season, with the ultimate goal being to eventually win the Stanley Cup. And he’s got his dream scenario already in his mind.
Naturally, it involves the Panthers and the Chicago Blackhawks.
“We want to go to a Game 7,” Tallon said, “and beat them 2-1 so we can get as many gate receipts as we possibly can.”