Two weeks since being named to lead the search for a Panthers GM, Bill Torrey said Thursday afternoon he’s “very, very encouraged” with the quality and number of inquiries and that he’s already started face-to-face interviews with potential candidates.
Torrey, a Hall of Fame member, Alternate Governor and key figure in building the Islanders dynasty and the Panthers into one of sport’s most successful expansion franchises, said he’s looking for a GM who will remain in South Florida for a long time and add to the team’s growing stability.
Torrey said a GM would not be named before next weekend’s Entry Draft and did not give a definitive date.
“This is too important a hiring,” Torrey said. “I don’t have to tell you this franchise will benefit from stability…I want this hire to be as permanent as it possibly can be in this business. We have stability now behind the bench. We have stability in our scouting staff and I’ve been very impressed the way our scouts have dug in and prepared for the Draft. And (assistant GM) Randy (Sexton) has done an excellent job on his end.”
Torrey said he’s received 60 inquiries about the open GM position and all but one have had hockey backgrounds. Torrey said he wouldn’t give out the names of any of the candidates because some of those he’s received permission to talk to don’t want their names revealed.
“We’ve gotten far enough along where I’m starting to do face-to-face interviews, which means I’ve reduced the list to three or four different catergories,” he said. “I want to get it down to a point where serious candidates are interviewed maybe more than once. There’s very few at the stage I’m at now that are people I don’t have some prior knowledge about to begin with.”
Torrey said he spoke to two candidates in Toronto earlier in the week and will have meetings next week while attending Hall of Fame and Board of Governors meetings in Toronto and Montreal. While his time will be taken up some over the next two weeks by the Draft and free agency, Torrey said he will continue his search.
“The process is going forward and the most important thing is we get the best man, the man who fits the best,” he said. “We have some really good people in place, which is a little different than a lot of other circumstances when a GM comes in. I’ve had to make that clear to the candidates that Peter DeBoer will be our coach and so on down the line.”
When asked if any candidates voiced concern about not bringing in their own coach, Torrey said; “I have to tell you, I haven’t heard a single negative in that regard from anybody. Everybody was impressed with the job Peter did and people in hockey have known Peter for along time and understand he was an outstanding hire. It's a real benefit.”
Torrey reiterated he’s the only person conducting interviews. He added he’s been in touch with “both present ownership and prospective ownership” on a number of occasions. “Everyone seems very comfortable with it,” he said.