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Highlights from Mr. Bill Torrey's reddit AMA

The Hall of Fame member answers the internet's questions

by Staff /

Mr. Bill Torrey - the architect of the expansion Panthers and the Islanders 1980s dynasty - spent an hour on the /r/hockey subreddit today for an AMA, covering everything from hockey dynasties to his bowtie collection and so much more.

Here are some of the highlights:

Q: What is your personal favorite bowtie? And who is your pick in the Stanley Cup Finals?

A: When I'm not involved, all I hope for (and we're certainly getting) is a really good Stanley Cup Final. That's most important for our game.

I lived in Pittsburgh for eight years, I really liked that city, it's a great hockey town, and obviously what we're getting in Nashville is tremendous. It's great for a franchise like ours to see how quickly you can become the center of interest the way they have, and well-deserved!

Q: What initially drew you to building a team in Florida after building a dynasty in New York?

A: I take no credit for the decision of putting the team here, Mr. Huizenga is the man who had the idea. I had made a decision to leave the Islanders and take a break, and I had a small place up in West Palm, I decided to take a little vacation.

Came down here, played golf, was enjoying life, then about ten days later I got a call from Mr. Huizenga to come to a Dolphins game. He didn't mention why he was calling me. I sat in his box at the football game, the Dolphins won the game and I got up to leave afterwards. He said "No, I have to talk to you, stay."

So, I sat down and he said "Do you know why I want to talk to you?" I said "I have no idea."

"Well," he said, "what do you think about putting a hockey team down here?"

I remember my answer very clearly.

"With your money? Not mine."

He laughed and said he was serious, and that he wanted to build an arena and put a hockey team down here. He was a man of his word, he had the foresight, he believed in hockey. He not only got the franchise here, but he also was the force behind getting the building that we're sitting in today.

A lot of people didn't think that hockey would come here, or that he would be the genius behind it. The old Miami Arena was great from a seating standpoint, and we filled it regularly. We didn't have the best team, although we were exciting and fun to watch. But he loved the team, he loved the game, and I give him all the credit for making it happen.

Q: How was operating in Florida a different challenge from your years In NY?

The biggest challenge was, there was a little controversy because Anaheim came in when we came in. We were not given the green light to say that we were going to start within the year.

The Ducks were a Disney team, and they wanted to time the arrival of the movie and the arrival of the team. So, we were delayed for about a month.

When we were finally told that we were going, at that time, we had no practice rink, we had five months from scratch. We didn't have an office, players, we didn't have a pencil! Again, because of Mr. Huizenga, we were able to do it.

It was 24-hours a day for five months to put the team on the ice. And we were able to pull it off. And we had a good expansion draft!

Q: How many bowties do you own?

A: Own now, or over the years? Because I've had hundreds sent to me in the mail over the years. How many do I have now? I have absolutely no idea. I have a good-sized box, and it's full of nothing but bowties.

Q: What specifically do the Panthers need to do to contend for a Cup in the next few years?

A: I like the nucleus that's here, Dale has had some great drafts, and I certainly am looking forward to this year's. Hopefully, we can add to it. But the real nucleus of this team is youthful and when we get it all together, I think last year will soon fade, and the team will bounce back to challenge. We'll have to be more consistent and healthy. We'll be strong in goal.

I'm optimistic that this team can bounce back to where they were two years ago.

Q: How funny is Dale Tallon?

A: When we win, he's hilarious. That's the nature of the business, the highs and the lows. Dale's got a really good sense of humor, he enjoys life. Other than winning a hockey game, sinking a putt gives him his greatest joy, and he does pretty well at that, I can tell ya.

Dale's got a personality that's really good for this business.

Disappointments are bound to happen, surprises are bound to happen, no matter how hard you prepare, you're going to have ups and downs, and he's really good at handling that. The thing that I admire the most about the way he goes about his business is his dealings with the players.

There's a time and a place for everything, and his timing is generally pretty good, and he sure has an eye for good talent.

Q: Is a hot dog a sandwich?

A: A sandwich?!

No, but the best hot dogs are in Quebec! Ask any player in the league, they're the prohibitive favorites, they toast the bun and they have the best mustard.

Tweet from @RedditHockey: Thanks to Bill Torrey and the @flapanthers for the AMA today. Check it out if you haven't already!

A few other highlights include two of his grandchildren stopping by to say hi and the full story behind the California Golden Seals' white skates, so click on that link above to read the whole thing!  

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