This is Dale Tallon.
For those who have known me on line for a while, you will know that I’ve become a fan of smart management since Kevin Lowe drove the Oiler bus into the ditch back in 2006.
Tallon, who is chiefly responsible for building the powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks, was ousted in a palace coup by the Bowman Mafia ®back in 2009.
Tallon’s first season as the Blackhawks general manager was a busy one. The 2004–05 NHL season was lost to a labor dispute, and the new collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players was signed in July 2005. Between the new financial structure and many rules changes intended to produce a higher scoring game, Tallon was challenged to build a new team. Tallon signed many free agents, including goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, defenceman Adrian Aucoin, and forward Martin Lapointe, which led to raised expectations.
The Blackhawks finished Tallon’s first season with 26 wins, 43 losses and 13 overtime losses for 65 points, ranking the Blackhawks 14th in the 15-team Western Conference, and with the third-least points in the NHL.
Under Tallon, however, the Blackhawks steadily improved, raising their points totals to 71 and 88 in the next two years. Though not enough to make the playoffs either year, their poor overall standing allowed Tallon high draft picks to work with. In 2006, he selected Jonathan Toews third overall, then Patrick Kane first overall the following year. The two forwards went on to quickly become franchise cornerstones and were joined by fellow young talents Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Martin Havlát and Brian Campbell, all of whom Tallon either signed or traded for.
With a new core of players in 2008–09, the Blackhawks finished the season with a 46–24–12 record for 104 points. Ranking fourth overall in the Western Conference, the team qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Chicago made it to the Western Conference Finals, where they were eliminated in five games by the Detroit Red Wings.
Tallon further bolstered his team in the off-season by signing star winger Marián Hossa and Selke Trophy-winning John Madden. That same off-season, however, Tallon and the Blackhawks management came under fire in early July 2009, when the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) claimed the team did not submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents before the deadline.
In the worst-case scenario, the team’s unsigned restricted free agents at the time, including Kris Versteeg, would have become unrestricted, earning them additional salary and negotiating rights. Tallon was able to sign all his restricted free agents, although at a cost of millions more than he would have to had he qualified them in time.
The following day, Martin Havlát, who was no longer a Blackhawk, criticized the team’s management and defended Tallon. He stated, “Every single player on that team is with Dale. I still talk to the guys all the time, hockey players know a phony when they see one.”
He specifically berated John McDonough, the team’s president, commenting, “McDonough couldn’t stand that Dale was so successful and getting the credit for building the Hawks from a last place team to making the Conference Finals in 3 short years.”
Tallon took over the Florida Panthers in May 2010.
While he was able to get the Panthers into the playoffs once, he was always hamstrung by unstable ownership and a parsimonious budget until Vinny Viola purchased the team in the summer of 2013 and vowed to spend whatever was need to make the team successful.
Here’s how that pledge looks today:
Here is an excerpt from a Miami Herald article this morning:
On Thanksgiving morning, the Panthers were 16 points behind Montreal for first place in the Atlantic Division and things didn’t look good.
After losing nine of 12 games, few figured the Panthers had the team to make up that sort of real estate.
Well, on Sunday evening, the Panthers took sole possession of first place in their division by beating Columbus 3-2 in front of 16,902 at BB&T Center.
Tallon has built a powerhouse in Florida.
Sticking to the principles of building from the back end out and down the middle, Tallon acquired Roberto Luongo and has a terrific D corp with Aaron Ekblad, Dmitri Kulikov, Erik Gudbranson, Alex Petrovic and veterans Willie Mitchell and Brian Campbell.
And how is this for centre depth?
The Panthers need a couple of scoring wingers although the ageless wonder, Jaromir Jagr, leads the team in scoring but Tallon has more than $6M in free cap space and I expect he’ll load up for a playoff run.
As I mentioned in my pre-season predictions, “watch out for the Panthers”.
Tallon knows what he’s doing.