For about a decade, the Florida Panthers played the role of perennial wallflowers in the NHL (and no, I’m not talking about the pop rock group that featured Bob Dylan’s son). The way I see it, they’ve only been intermittently awful; in most cases, the rats have just been mediocre. In other words, the Florida Panthers were hockey’s answer to nougat.
One thing is for sure, though, new GM Dale Tallon won’t sit idly by while other GMs make waves. He’s making his presence known.
Just look at the Florida Panthers’ feverishly busy draft.
Though there is plenty of focus on the future, the makeover will be apparent as early as the 2010-11 season, considering the fact that Tallon dealt prominent players including Nathan Horton and Keith Ballard. Thanks to a dizzying array of moves, the Panthers ended up with three first-round draft picks, three second rounders and three picks in the fourth to go along with the standard single picks in the third and fifth-to-seventh rounds.
Here is a snapshot of the Tallon’s first six rounds of work, which includes a ridiculous haul of 12 picks. (Click to enlarge, shot via NHL.com)
If there is one trend of the Panthers draft (besides sheer volume), it’s that Tallon focused on big players. His first two picks are listed at 6’4″ and he only picked one guy under six-feet tall (Benjamin Gallacher, at 5’11”). The league rewards speed and skill, but looking at the Dustin Byfugliens and Chris Prongers of the world, it never hurts to have a player who could clear or clog the crease. Tallon apparently received that memo.
Sure, it may take some time for Tallon to work his rags-to-riches magic like he did in Chicago, but it’s clear that the man largely responsible for building the Blackhawks is ready to do it again.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.