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[PODCAST] State of the Union Jan. 16, 2015

by Mike Lewis / Florida Panthers

Welcome to Florida Panthers: State of the Union, where we talk all things Panthers hockey.

Mike Lewis is the voice behind the State of the Union and each week will look to bring some insight from analysts and Panthers media personalities.

This week’s guest, Florida Panthers Television Analyst and Former Panther, Bill Lindsay.

ML: Over the recent road trip, Roberto Luongo played his first game in Vancouver since being traded back to Florida. It was a special night for Roberto, with him not only earning a win but first star honors and was welcomed with a warm reception. What was it like that day in Vancouver?

BL: There was a lot going on, because we got into Vancouver three days before the game. So they were talking about it, everyone was interested in it. So there was a lot of hype leading up to the game and when the game actually came about, there was a buzz and excitement in the building and you could feel it. A lot of the people there were rooting for Luongo, they were happy to see him back. He had spent eight great years in a Canuck uniform, so he gets back there, gets his chance, plays spectacular hockey and the fans I think were happy to have him back there in Vancouver. It kind of closed the chapter for Luongo on his Vancouver days. That was the only thing missing, was to go back and give that final farewell to the fans.

ML: General Manager Dale Tallon began his tenure in 2010, now in 2015 the Panthers have one player on their active roster who was on the team before Tallon arrived, that was Dmitry Kulikov. Six players on the Cats now were drafted by the Panthers while Dale was GM, not to mention the few who were drafted by Dale during his time with Chicago. Do you feel that he’s built this team the way Dale built Chicago through that blueprint?

BL: I think in many ways. What he wants to do is build through the draft and that’s how you have to win in the NHL to be good. You can find some other players out there, but I don’t think you can really build a strong team through free agency, you have to be able draft and cultivate your own players. That’s what Dale’s blueprint plan was in Chicago and that’s the same thing he’s doing here.

We’ve gotten some high draft picks, but some of your second, third round picks, Rocco Grimaldi (for example) down in the minors playing really, really well. We’ve got a lot of players coming up through the system. There’s a young talented core that’s going to be here for a long, long time. I think that’s what Dale wanted to do. He wanted to establish a core group of guys that are going to be Florida Panthers and be the main part of the solution moving forward and I think we’ve got that in Bjugstad, Huberdeau, Barkov and Ekblad all these young players, those are going to be your cornerstones for years to come. So I think he’s used a very similar blueprint here as he did in Chicago.

Panthers fans make sure you tune in next week for the podcast as we are scheduled to have Florida Panthers Co-Owner Doug Cifu on the State of the Union answering your questions. Keep an eye out on Panthers Social Media for your chance to post a question for Mr. Cifu to answer in the next podcast.

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