Panthers Get A Good Man
That sound you hear is the sound of about a dozen or more NHL general managers cheering, applauding for the hiring of Dale Tallon as the new GM of the Florida Panthers.
It's not that they think Tallon's a dope and will trade them Stephen Weiss or Nathan Horton for a song. It's because Tallon was enormously popular as GM of the Chicago Blackhawks and most executives in the league believe he got a raw deal when he was dumped last summer by president John McDonough in favour of Scotty Bowman's son, Stan.
Interestingly, Tallon's name wasn't out there in connection with the Florida job. Randy Sexton, of course, was hoping to keep it, although he didn't really distinguish himself and, it's believed, had the post because was willing to work for a very moderate salary.
Tallon, on the other hand, is the architect of the Hawks team that may yet walk away with the Stanley Cup. He inherited a 65-point team and the likes of Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Dustin Byfuglien when he took over in 2005. He then drafted Jonathan Toews, Patrice Kane and Niklas Hjalmarsson, made deals for Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp and signed goalie Antti Niemi as a free agent.
There were some bad deals as well, notably Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet. But every team has bad contracts they wish would evaporate into thin air.
It's been such a wasteland in south Florida for such a long time its hard to know whether Tallon can fix all that ails that awful franchise. They've built the team around Weiss and Horton, who seem anything but franchise-type players, got little when they traded away goalie Roberto Luongo and allowed Jay Bouwmeester to walk out the door for nothing.
They were only three points better than the Leafs this season, so that puts their plight into perspective. But good guys don't always finish last, and while 29 other GMs will be trying to beat Tallon, a few will be pulling for him as well.