In recent days we've discussed how new general mangers in the NHL's Southwestern Division seem to be on an accelerated pace for rebuilding. Both Rick Dudley's Atlanta Thrashers and Steve Yzerman's Tampa Bay Lightning are making bold moves this summer clearly with the Stanley Cup playoffs in mind. Both markets badly need a taste of success.
Clearly Tallon's game plan focuses on the long term future. Hey, it worked brilliantly for him in Chicago, and in some ways it is great news for Panthers fans. Tallon has convinced ownership to sacrifice short term pain for long term gain. Ownership must be committed to a long term future in Florida, and are willing to suffer losses on the ice and off to do things right.
Of course, this also bodes ominously for Panthers fans who probably are not expecting much in terms of success in 2011. Florida is like so many other sunbelt teams - in a non-traditional market and reportedly in trouble. The only remedy for this is success. People support winners, even sunbelt hockey fans. We've seen it in Tampa and Carolina and Dallas, and yes even in Florida. Remember the rats in the 1996 Stanley Cup finals run?
That success has proven to be fleeting, so these non-traditional markets continue to struggle. Tallon wants to strip it down and start all over and do things right. He wants to build a team that is always competitive, on the ice and off. He wants to create a winning culture, which quite ironically may mean losing quite a bit in the short term.
As long as ownership continues with this patience, Tallon's vision may pay off big time in Florida.
Embracing The Past
The Panthers did take an interesting step back in time as they look to the future. They have announced that two original Panthers players will be rejoining the organization.
The Panthers have hired Brian Skrudland as the team’s Director of Player Development and Gord Murphy as an Assistant Coach. I think both hirings are very shrewd moves by Tallon.
It does appear that besides washington, every team in that division is in a state of transition. Atlanta is accelerating its 'rebuild' by acquiring veterans, trying to establish some kind of identity in the post-Kovalchuk era, while Florida is beefing up with young talent and draft picks. Tampa is somewhere in between, but Yzerman enters with a lot more talent than most of his rivals. Most interesting, from my perspective, is the essential soft 'surrender' that's going on in Carolina. It appears by all evidence that Rutherford is already setting sights on the 2011 and 2012 drafts.
His only obstacle may be an Alberta team and the maple Leafs...
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