When a GM or a coach is fired, fans usually hear all about it as the news is immediately splashed all over the headlines. People will debate whether the employee in question should have been fired or got a raw deal. People will want to make snap judgments about the man’s tenure as if all of the answers are obvious for the world to see. In truth, it usually takes a little time to gain the proper perspective to make judgments.
It’s been almost 3 years since Jacques Martin left South Beach and took his talents to Montreal so we can now take an educated look at what he did during his time. George Richards of the Miami Herald did exactly that:
“Some of the deals Martin would probably like to a do-over on include signing Rostislav Olesz to a impossible-to-move six-year contract worth $19 million and not trading Jay Bouwmeester at the 2009 deadline. The Panthers were in the middle of the playoff pack at that deadline and Martin kept Bouwmeester for a playoff chase. That fizzled and Bouwmeester walked away – as expected –with the Panthers getting nothing in return.”
We’re not really breaking new ground here. The Florida Panthers haven’t won a playoff game since 1997 and only appeared in the playoffs once since then (1999-00). They opted for a full rebuild in the middle of the decade—yet only a couple of years later Dale Tallon was brought in to tear it down to the ground again. He was given the exact same task as the Martin regime: rebuild this team into a contender. They’re hoping in Panthers country that Tallon has more luck than Martin did.
In the same article, Martin took a look back at his time in Florida.
“I have no regrets. You learn with every situation in your life… I enjoyed my time here, enjoyed working here. There are some great people here. I always enjoy coming back.”
Translation: I took my shot, I missed. I had fun while I was here, it’s fun to visit but I’m glad I’m only visiting.
All things being equal, the Panthers should be happier today than they were under the Martin regime. They narrowly missed the playoffs in 2008-09, but the reality was that a 9th place finish was the high point of the last decade. A quick look at the standings will tell you they’re in no better shape than they have been in recent memory, but there’s a difference this time. This time, there’s a plan. They’ve drafted a slew of good prospects and are stockpiling draft picks for even more prospects. They’re taking their time and developing them the right way this time around.
It’s going to take time with Tallon, but this time they’re selling hope. There’s the promise of something better down the road—and Tallon has the track record that warrants hope.
Only time will tell if we’re saying the same things about Dale Tallon’s rebuild as we are about Jacques Martin’s failed rebuild.