Panthers Make Change After Franchise-Best Season
The Florida Panthers, something of a laughing stock over the last decade-plus, enjoyed their best season in franchise history in 2015-16, registering 103 points and winning the Atlantic Division, toppling division stalwarts in the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings.
So it seems a little odd that after that, the Panthers would make a front-office change, but here they are.
As first reported by Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, associate general manager Tom Rowe has been promoted to general manager while Dale Tallon has been “promoted” to some sort of position atop of the hockey operations food chain. Eric Joyce, who was the general manager of the Portland Pirates since 2014, is an assistant general manager. Steve Werier was the Panthers’ VP of legal and business affair, and will now be an assistant general manager as well.
Tallon had recently signed a three-year extension, which keeps him with the Panthers through 2019.
So what’s with the change after a season of unprecedented success?
The Miami Herald learned the Panthers were leaning toward changing their management structure as the season came to a close because the team wants to incorporate more mathematical analysis when it comes to making roster decisions.
Tallon will still have a say in how the Panthers are built moving forward, although now Rowe, Joyce and Werier will have more of a say than before.
This Rowes’ first foray into the general manager role in the NHL. He joined the front office on January 1st, 2016 after coaching their AHL affiliate for three years. So yeah, that move was a little surprising, too.
The really interesting move here is Werier. He hasn’t been involved in a player personnel role, but he does oversee the team’s analytics department, something the Panthers seem to want to focus on. The timing is interesting as well, considering the team has $52 million committed to 32 contracts next season with some significant young players in need of contracts in the next two years. Maybe. this is a move with an eye towards that?
Tallon will continue to have a voice in player personnel which seems obvious given that he’s built one of the better young teams in the NHL, though it remains to be seen just what kind of sway he will hold.
Either way, one would hope that this doesn’t have too drastic an effect on the on-ice product as the Panthers were not only a feel-good story, but one of the most fun teams to watch this season.