CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – The Florida Panthers have grown steadily into one of the most promising franchises in the NHL, and the team is now beginning to reward those who had a hand in planting the seeds of their current success.
On Friday, the Panthers signed general manager Dale Tallon to a three-year contract extension that will allow the team’s current architect an opportunity to potentially taste the fruits of his labor as the organization looks towards the playoffs and beyond.
“I’m excited to continue to work with them to make this an elite franchise in the league and win multiple championships,” Tallon said Friday from the Panthers IceDen. “That's the goal and we're headed in the right direction; we're going to work our rear ends off to make sure we realize that goal sooner than later."
Tallon, who joined the Panthers in the spring of 2010, was a finalist for the NHL's Executive of the Year award after putting together a roster that won the franchise's first division title in 2012. Then last season, the team went from a 66-point team the year before to a 91-point club that challenged for a playoff spot until the season's final days.
This season, however, Tallon has finally been able to find solace in the success of the present rather than the promise of the future as the Panthers entered the New Year sitting atop the Atlantic Division after winning 13 of their past 16 games to close out 2015.
The rebuilding process might not have always been easy, Tallon admits, but with every loss came a lesson and with every losing season came a chance to acquire the assets that are currently serving as the foundation of the team’s prosperity this season.
“You got through a lot of pain and suffering when you’re rebuilding a team,” said Tallon, who is the second-longest tenured general manager in franchise history. "It's fun and I'm happiest for the players, seeing their development curve and them buying in to what we're doing. I'm proud of our players, coaches, staff and organization. We're all on the same page, pulling for and believing in each other.''
Brian Campbell, who was one of Tallon’s first big-name acquisitions upon his arrival to South Florida, has witnessed firsthand just what Florida’s general manager is capable of accomplishing after winning a Stanley Cup in 2010 with a Chicago Blackhawks team handcrafted by Tallon himself.
"You see some of the fruits of Dale's labor coming to fruition and I'm happy for him,'' said Campbell. “He's been here for a while now and it's exciting to see the plan keep coming into place. Hopefully we can do great things this year and worry about this year and win this year.”
In addition to Tallon’s extension, the Panthers also announced that Tom Rowe, the coach of Florida's AHL affiliate in Portland, has been hired to serve as the team’s associate general manager.
"It's an amazing opportunity," said Rowe, who had coached Florida’s minor-league affiliate for parts of the past three seasons. "Not so many of these jobs come along, and to be able to work with Dale, see how he does things internally is a great learning experience for me. It gives me the opportunity to really have a big impact and just be a piece of the puzzle."
With Rowe and Tallon now firmly entrenched in the front office, the Panthers will now turn their attention back to the ice as the team begins 2016 with a chance to reach the playoffs for just the fifth time in franchise history.
"I'm excited about the direction of this organization,” said Tallon. "We're going to continue building through the draft, keep developing. The blueprint, the pieces are finally coming together. I'm looking forward to the next three years. ... The goal is to make this an elite franchise and win multiple championships. We're headed in the right direction."