Reporting Tim Kephart
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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – After one of the most amazing turnarounds in recent NHL history, the Florida Panthers announced Wednesday that it has re-signed vice-president and general manager Dale Tallon to a multi-year contract extension.
Tallon has been at the head of the ship as the Panthers went from being an afterthought in the NHL to taking the Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Devils to Game 7 in the opening round of the 2012 playoffs.
“Over the last two years, he has worked tirelessly to re-position our team and hockey operations department,” Sunrise Sports & Entertainment General Partner Cliff Viner said in a prepared statement. “Our team’s success can be attributed directly to Dale’s passion, leadership and the motivation that he has instilled in our organization.”
Tallon said he was grateful to Viner and everyone involved with the Panthers for giving him the opportunity to put his stamp on the organization.
“Through the hard work of our diligent hockey operations staff we have changed the environment and culture of our club, developing a new identity for the Florida Panthers,” Tallon said. “I am very proud of our coaching staff, players and support staff for all that we accomplished this season.”
Under Tallon’s watch, he hired head coach Kevin Dineen in 2011 and saw the coach lead the team score 22 more points than they did in 2010. Tallon also completely revamped the Panthers’ lineup adding 10 players that formed the foundation of the 2011-2012 playoff run.
Then there’s the Panthers’ minor league system that has four first-round picks playing. Defenseman Erik Gudbranson played in 72 NHL games this season and is considered a rising star. Goalie Jacob Markstrom is expected to be the heir apparent between the pipes for the Panthers.
And the team still is waiting on center/forward Jonathan Huberdeau to put on enough extra bulk to bring him up to the main roster after being selected third overall in the 2011 NHL Draft.
Now with Tallon signed long-term, he can continue to tinker with a roster that was just one victory away from advancing in the playoffs and just won the Southeast Division.
For the first time in a long time, there’s a lot of positives for the Panthers and a lot of hope from fans the team is finally developing a winning culture for hockey in South Florida.