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.
It’s been a long time and we’ve seen a lot of offseason changes since our team played their last meaningful NHL game. But tomorrow night, finally, the Florida Panthers will be back on the ice for the start of the 2011-12 season.
Heading into my second year as General Manager of this franchise, it’s exciting to think about the progress we have made as an organization. We’ve had two great drafts, highlighted by top picks defenseman Erik Gudbranson
and forward Jonathan Huberdeau
We’ve put together a great coaching and front office staff, most recently with the hiring of Head Coach Kevin Dineen. And we’ve assembled an exciting group of players that have skill and character, and who are committed to being Panthers.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the next chapter in our plan. Beginning with our game against the Islanders, we’ll start to get a true understanding of where we stand as a franchise and how much better we really are.
It’s an exciting time to be a Panthers fan - this is the fun part. Now, we get to see how much of an impact players like Ed Jovanovski
and Brian Campbell
make on our defense and on young players like Jason Garrison
, Dmitry Kulikov
Now we get to see four solid lines up front, filled with committed yet talented players like Scottie Upshall
, Tomas Kopecky
and Sean Bergenheim
. We get to see how much better Stephen Weiss
can be when playing with skilled wingers like Tomas Fleischmann
and Kris Versteeg
. We get to see what Jose Theodore
can do between the pipes, and what youngster Jacob Markstrom
does with his chance while Scott Clemmensen
This is the fun part of being a GM as well – seeing where all the pieces fit in to place both on and off the ice. For anyone who has attended a practice during training camp or last Tuesday’s Foundation Face-Off Gala, I think it’s clear there’s a real personality and chemistry around this team.
Our players are committed to being part of this community, to interacting with our fans, and to being a team that we can all be proud of. That’s something that is encouraging to see from my perspective, and I’m sure from a fan point of view as well.
But for me, I’m ready to get down to the action on the ice. I know we’ll be improved, and I’m excited about that. I also know we’re going to play an up-tempo and aggressive brand of hockey, which is something we can all look forward to.
We’re in a great position as a franchise, I’m confident of that. But tomorrow, we start to figure out just how far along we really are. Thanks for reading and enjoy the game.