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G.M. Journal: August Action

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
A exclusive, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will be sharing his thoughts with Panthers and hockey fans throughout the year in his blog entitled G.M. Journal.


Hockey fans probably don’t think about August as the most action-packed month of the season, but there is still plenty of work to be done to prepare for training camp and plenty of opportunities remaining to potentially improve our team.
In the last week alone we’ve reshaped our roster in Rochester with a number of moves, making it more conducive to the growth and success of our young players.
Meanwhile, with the addition of defenseman Mike Weaver, a top penalty killer and player who logged almost 17 minutes per game for St. Louis last year, we have positioned our blueline for healthy internal competition in training camp, leading to a better overall defensive unit once the season begins in earnest in October.
If you look at our defense right now, in front of Tomas Vokoun and Scott Clemmensen, we have Bryan McCabe, Bryan Allen, Dennis Wideman, Dmitry Kulikov, Jason Garrison, Nathan Paetsch and Mike Weaver, all competing for regular playing time. They could also be pushed in camp by players such as rookie Erik Gudbranson, youngsters Keaton Ellerby and Colby Robak, and new signing Joe Callahan.
The fact is, as head coach Pete DeBoer has said even before I got here in May, we need to cultivate a competitive environment where every player feels the pressure to perform and earn their position – from first line center down to a fourth line checking forward.
The same situation exists at forward, where there could be upwards of 18 players competing for only 12 or 13 spots. Every day, from the start of camp until the end of the season, there will be pressure on our players to perform and give their all. From a GM’s perspective that’s what you need, and from a fan’s perspective, it’s going to be exciting to watch.  
Speaking of our fans, I want to thank everyone who sent their well-wishes and support when I was fortunate enough to compete in the 2010 U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club just outside Seattle, Wash.
Despite my faulty putter, it was an incredible experience to play in one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world. It was also a strong reminder that I should stick my day job of being the GM of this hockey team.
After the tournament, I spent the last week in South Florida meeting with much of our hockey ops staff including Assistant GM Mike Santos and Bill Torrey, to discuss our preparations for training camp.
Beginning Sept. 11 with rookie camp, as an organization we need to set the tone for the rest of the season, and the foreseeable future. We need to show our players – whether they are rookies, young players or seasoned veterans – that the party is over and we are going to conduct our business in a professional manner from here on out. We’re going to have a lot of fun doing it, but only if we’re all willing to make the sacrifices necessary to have success and to win.
That said, we have plenty of great opportunities for our fans to get a close-up of our team in September with two rookie games on the 15th and 16th and the Blue vs. White scrimmage during Hockey Day in South Florida on the 19th  all at the Iceplex in Coral Springs.
But for now, with Opening Night just over two months away, we’ll continue looking for ways to improve our roster and give our fans a team they can all be proud of.
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