Over the past few weeks, the Florida Panthers have made some radical changes to their front office personnel. After a victorious 2015-2016 campaign in which the team set new franchise records for wins and points, it is surprising to see so many changes taking place. Are they entirely unfounded though?
While the Florida Panthers brought a new sense of hope to Sunrise, the way their season ended left a bad taste in the mouths of fans and ownership. The team clearly had enough talent to make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but was ultimately hampered by a spout of untimely injuries. Still, the team has made significant strides since Dale Tallon was hired as the team’s General Manager and as a result, significant promotions have occurred.
Notably, Tallon was recently promoted from his position as General Manager to President of Hockey Operations, giving him a more global view and ultimate control over the organization. With that move, Tom Rowe, former coach of the Panthers’ AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, and Assistant General Manger, was promoted to the General Manager position. Additionally, Eric Joyce, General Manager for the Pirates, and Steve Werier, Vice President of Legal Affairs, were both promoted to the Assistant General Manger position.
As the promotions came, so too did the firings. While some were expected, others came seemingly from out of nowhere. First to go, was the Director of Hockey Operations, Mike Dixon. This was done to make room for Tallon at the top. Then, Assistant Coach John Madden was also relieved. A former player with the club, Madden was a fan favorite. Unfortunately, his special teams expertise didn’t necessarily translate to success on the ice; this is an area that the team has performed poorly in for quite some time.
Following these changes, some confusing moves were made. According to George Richards from the Miami Herald, the team relieved multiple Equipment Managers — Chris Scoppetto and Chris Moody. This position is known for having a close relationship with the players. It is curious why these staff members would be let go after such a successful season. Additionally, he revealed that longtime team Vice President Jeff Campol was fired. He had been in charge of the Panthers’ training facility. Finally, today, an integral executive was the latest to go.
.@FlaPanthers GM Tom Rowe confirms firing of Scott Luce, longtime director of scouting/player personnel. ‘We wanted a different voice’
— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) May 23, 2016
This may be the most telling of the changes in the organization. While the Florida Panthers have shown a clear improvement under Dale Tallon (hockey-reference.com), it seems that the highest members of the front office believed that the team was still being held back by the remnants of previous ownership.
Season Wins Losses OT Losses Points 15-16 47 26 9 103 14-15 38 29 15 91 13-14 29 45 8 66 12-13 15 27 6 36 11-12 38 26 18 94 10-11 30 40 12 72
This Florida Panthers team is in a significant transition. Although the on-ice product has been getting better, the players involved in its success have only been around for a couple of seasons. Players such as Ekblad, Barkov, Matheson, and Trocheck are coming into the league and being molded, in large part, by long-tenured members of the organization. The relatively new ownership duo of Vincent Viola and Doug Cifu have already imparted their culture of precision and passion on the organization; but it seems that with these latest moves, they are looking to completely eradicate any semblance of the old, hapless Panthers, and imbue the team with a hope and determination that has rarely been experienced by this franchise. Fans may be concerned by the latest changes, but with the track record of Viola, Cifu, and Tallon, the best is yet to come for the Cats.
Florida Panthers contributor. You can find me at the Cats’ game or playing NHL ’16.