Sports Outside the Beltway

Florida Panthers hire Dale Tallon as general manager

He held the same position in Chicago From 2005 to 2009 the Sun-Sentinel-

Randy Sexton’s stint as Panthers general manager ended Monday.

The Panthers hired former Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon to replace Sexton and will introduce the ninth GM in franchise history Tuesday morning at BankAtlantic Center.

Tallon, 59, was serving as a senior adviser of hockey operations for the Blackhawks.

According to a source, former Wild GM Doug Risebrough, former Bruins GM Mike O’Connell and Rangers assistant director of player personnel Jeff Gorton were the others on the Panthers’ short list who were considered.

It’s uncertain whether Sexton, whose one-year contract is set to expire June 1, will remain with the team in some capacity.


Tallon, who in four seasons as Blackhawks GM maneuvered their rise from third-worst record in the NHL to the Western Conference finals, is optimistic he can rebuild the Panthers. While the Blackhawks had missed the playoffs six of the past seven seasons when Tallon took over in 2005, the Panthers haven’t made the playoffs since 2000 — an NHL record-tying nine consecutive seasons.

“I’m elated. It’s a great opportunity,” said Tallon, 59, who plans to fly to Germany on Wednesday to meet with Panthers coach Pete DeBoer, an assistant coach for Canada at the World Championships. “I’ve just got to give him some tools to work with and see if he can do the job.”

Panthers majority owners Cliff Viner and Stu Siegel released a statement Monday noting “we are thrilled and honored to open a new chapter in Florida Panthers franchise history.” They added that Tallon “brings with him a proven track record and an impressive franchise-building resume that we believe is the perfect fit for the future” and thanked Sexton, who was named GM hours before the season opener Oct. 2 in Helsinki, for his service.

Tallon told the Sun Sentinel he was first contacted by Panthers alternate governor Bill Torrey near the end of April. Discussions continued and ultimately “it felt right for both parties,” Tallon said.

“They’ve got a lot of good draft picks. They’ve got some good young players,” Tallon said. “It’s a similar situation to what we started with in Chicago, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Much of the appeal of this union, both from the Panthers’ perspective and Tallon’s, is that the team will have nine picks in next month’s draft in Los Angeles, including the No. 3 overall pick and three picks in the second round.

Two of those second-rounders were acquired at the trade deadline when Sexton, who first became interim GM last May after Jacques Martin left to coach the Canadiens, sent Jordan Leopold to the Penguins and fellow defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to the Bruins.

“We have the blueprint. We know how to do it,” Tallon said. “We just have to implement it now.”

Tallon reconstructed the Blackhawks, who finished with 65 points his first season as GM, by drafting All-Stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. He also traded for Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg, and signed other current Blackhawks Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell, John Madden and Antti Niemi as free agents.

“He did a complete re-haul of a very bad product, and as a result you see the crowds and the excitement the Blackhawks have instilled in Chicago,” said Thrashers GM Rick Dudley, who was Tallon’s assistant in Chicago and Panthers GM from 2002-04. “He knows how to construct a team. He’s a builder. And he’ll do a heck of a job there [in Florida]. The only thing that bothers me is we’re in the same division.”

Despite Tallon’s success in Chicago, he was demoted last July a week after the team mistakenly filed paperwork of qualifying offers to its restricted free agents after the deadline. But many inside the organization and outside believe the move was made because Blackhawks president John F. McDonough wanted to bring in his own guy, Stan Bowman, to be GM. Bowman is the son of Blackhawks senior adviser Scotty Bowman.

I always thought the paperwork snafu was just the cover story for a case of nepotism in Chicago. Tallon did nothing that was deserving of promotion.

Donny Rivette does a good job of summing up Randy Sexton’s short tenure in Florida. The Panthers had a big let down last year, but this Panther fan only puts a small bit of the blame at his feet. Oh Sexton made some dumb moves, like signing Scott Clemmensen and Ville Koistinen, but none of these are the cause for the team finished out of the playoff picture once again. I believe former GMs Mike Keenan and Jacques Martin are to blame.

I soured on the Panthers late last season. For that reason, I still don’t trust the team’s new ownership and I find it hard to believe in Tallon turning around the franchise. All I will say is- 1- Florida is rebuilding and is at least two years from being a playoff team. 2- I wonder how safe Coach Peter DeBoer’s job is now? The team has new owners and management and that makes me think DeBoer could be fired before the 2010-11 season is over. Particularly if Florida is once again out of the playoff picture.

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