A floridapanthers.com 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.
We’re just past the midpoint of the NHL season, and now is the time to make some honest evaluations of our franchise and talk about the things we need to do to achieve our goals.
As the trade deadline approaches in late February, the media are levying questions and trying to figure out which teams will be “sellers” and which teams will be “buyers.”
I don’t look at things that “black and white.” For me, everything is about the big picture and what is best for the overall future of this franchise.
We’ve made our goals very clear. We want to make the playoffs on a consistent basis and become a Stanley Cup contender. To achieve those goals, we can’t handcuff ourselves by making moves or transactions that don’t make sense, just because of the trade deadline. We’re not going to shop and purge, we’re going to do what’s right for the franchise. We have to always look at the big picture, period.
To that end, our pro scouting staff is in South Florida this week to help with those evaluations. It’s an incredible advantage for us to have sharp hockey minds like Scott Luce, Pete Mahovlich, Al Tuer, Assistant GM Mike Santos and others, in our meetings and helping us make informed decisions that will directly affect our future success.
For our fans, it may be hard to recognize the impact that scouting and support staff can have on a hockey franchise. But look no further than players like Mike Santorelli
or Mike Weaver
, who flew under the radar when they were acquired but have been significant contributors for us this season. Or look at the performance of our five players at the World Junior Championship, four of which were drafted just this past summer. Those are the dividends paid by strong scouting and smart management decisions. We talk about our plan and our blueprint for success, and scouting is a significant part of it.
Another big part of our plan is attitude, and so far, I like what I’ve seen from our team. Last night we got a real character win over a very good Nashville club to even our record at 20-20-2. We're not having a party to celebrate being back at .500, but you really have to appreciate how hard our team has played, and the consistent effort they’ve put in almost every night. I haven’t given up on this team, not by a long shot, and I’m confident we’re going to push for a playoff spot right until the very end.
Overall, I like what our players are saying, I like how they’re conducting their business, and I like the vibe in that locker room. I think our players really feel that we are headed in the right direction, and that they have a chance to be part of something special, part of the solution for this Panthers franchise.
And I think our fans are getting a whiff of that. I’d like to think they feel good about our plan, and that they feel like a part of our blueprint. Truth is, they are. For a fan base that has endured a decade without a playoff appearance, our fans are remarkably loyal and energized.
They come to the BankAtlantic Center every night, and support our team with great passion and enthusiasm, which we sincerely appreciate. We need that support from our fans, and hopefully it will only continue to grow as we take the next steps and continue to build the team, and the organization, that we all want.
We are still in the beginning phases here. We’ve brought in a new attitude and a new culture. We’ve set a standard of how we conduct our business. But there is more work to be done and we have a crucial stretch upcoming. As a team we have to continue to play well through the second half of the season and hopefully in to the playoffs. We have to make the right decisions at the trade deadline. We have to conduct another great Draft in June and then take our momentum right through free agency and in to training camp.
Lots of work to be done, but lots of fun to be had as well. Hockey is a game, after all.