Florida Panthers Moving Forward Part Two: General Manager

If you have not read “Florida Panthers Moving Forward: Introduction,” you can find it here.

Its unfortunate that firings have now begot firings. But such a flop in year one of the Stanley Cup Window™ requires the necessary shake up. Despite rapid promotions, Tom Rowe’s contribution over the last three years has never matched the talk and occupying the Interim head coach gig and being one of many to share GM responsibilities gives Rowe a dead man’s hand. This opens two doors; the most important and first to be filled being General Manager.

Assuming the ownership group continues with the President-down structure, Tallon will not be filling GM duties but hiring the person to do so. If President was a title with no significance, Dale Tallon should be General Manager, and is our pick. But let’s assume Viola does really want Dale heading it all.

The immediate thought is promotion from within. Assistant General Managers Eric Joyce and Steve Werier are heavily favored by ownership, seeing a similarly puzzling and meteoric rise through the organization as Rowe. This should not be an option, and it is perfectly logical to believe that as long as Joyce and Werier maintain large duties in hockey ops so, too, will the owners. If Tallon truly has final say, this won’t be a worry.

Mark Hunter

Besides proximity to ownership and the checkered performance within Florida’s org, it is simply too early for either to assume direction of this franchise. With only two years left in the Stanley Cup Window™, a need to aggressively progress upon 2015-2016’s season calls for a more sure-thing without cozy relationship with owners.

An outside perspective, or someone less likely to automatically agree with the stated opinion, is much needed.

The General Manager job market is a tough lead. The positions usually are filled by the rotating door of previous NHL General Managers. Thirty-one roles exist and there are quite a storied AGM longing to interview, scouring for the next open chair.

Here is a list of ten potential General Manager candidates for the Florida Panthers position:

Rank Name Current Gig Other Notes Realistic Meter
1 Dale Tallon FLA-President in name Actually Delivers in FLA Very.All the owners have to do is get out of the way.
2 Les Jackson DAL- Assistant General Manger Development background in DAL as well. Rumored to be in on ARZ GM job Possible. Name in ring for ARZ is smoke–maybe there is fire there. But if Tallon is President do we need to get the over-ripened guy?
3 Kyle Dubas TOR- Assistant General Manager Lawyer/player agent, GM of SSM. Analytics friendly. Relationship with coach Sheldon Keefe Doubtful. Dubas is situated perfectly in TOR & they have money to beat any lifestyle advantages Florida offers. If 1 TOR AGM would leave, I'd pick this one.
4 Jason Botterill PIT- Asst. GM  AHL GM Scout for DAL Possible. Botterill may be next in line after Rutherford or maybe Botteril doesn't want to wait.
5 Norm McIver CHI-Asst. GM Player Development background Possible. He may have achieved all he can do there. Bowman isnt leaving soon, so McIver may look elsewhere.
6 Sergei Fedorov CSKA- General Manager 5 yrs experience in KHL. Stated he wants to GM in NHL Possible. DET would be front runner for Fedorov if Holland leaves & he may wait for that. Or he may give it a try in tax free sunny FLA with Miami not far away.
7 Mike Futa LAK- VP Hockey Operations & Director of Player Personnel Scouting background. Owen Sound GM Possible. Futa may leave to finally get his crack at GM if Tallon does have full say but with the sweat equity in LA would he rather wait out Lombardi?
8 Julien BriseBois TBL- Assistant General Manager 9 yrs w/ MTL VP Hockey Operations. GM of Hamilton Bulldogs. Hired Guy Boucher and Jon Cooper in AHL. Unlikely. BriseBois is close to a cup in Tampa. Unless he feels cramped in TBL or has falling out, why leave?
9 Paul Fenton NSH- Assistant General Manager Been in NSH since beginning-knows small nontraditional markets Possible. Been at NSH so long you wonder if there's only one GM job he wants.
10 Mark Hunter TOR- Assistant General Manager London Knights owner & VP Everything under sun for London Unlikely. So close to London & sure money is good. Why leave behind OHL team & TOR when things are going so well & tailored to you?

There are a number of choices out of those ten, and the multitude of other options out there, that could take this team to the next level.

Fedorov, my wildcard pick, would be a fantastic add. Not only would I have confidence in the team he would assemble and coach he would hire but bringing to life a Fedorov vs. Yzerman Florida GM rivalry would be all the drama and ratings. Fedorov would bring European connections (players, coaches, agents, scouts) the Panthers can exploit to create an advantage.

Sergei Fedorov

It would be hard to pinch one of the two AGMs out of Toronto, Hunter or Dubas. On the other hand, they both know only one of them gets the next promotion, can you sell them the time to act is now? Had I to choose, Hunter’s drafting acumen wins in a push, even if Dubas is the one one I’d peg to leave first.

Botterill, McIver, and BriseBois are other great options. But leaving an organization like Pittsburgh, Chicago, or Tampa Bay (respectively) is hard to do. But the experience these potential candidates have under great mentors is worth prioritizing and pursuing. It’s quite possible one of these three is the next ‘big time’ GM, so I’d be as aggressive as possible to land them.

Whichever General Manager Tallon would choose–if he isn’t already just GM–they need to be ready to go. Expansion Draft Protected Lists need to be submitted June 17th, the entry (now that they removed it from the title we are gonna have another type of draft!) draft is the 23rd and 24th, and…oh yeah! He needs to hire a head coach.

Continue on reading about Florida’s potential Head Coach shortlist.


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