Dale Tallon

Under Pressure: Dale Tallon


There’s no question Florida Panthers’ general manager Dale Tallon went out and added some significant pieces to help his budding stars this offseason.

But his time to get this struggling franchise to become a regular playoff contender is quickly running out.

The team’s attendance is at the bottom of the league and the debt is piling up. Tallon is under pressure to turn the ship around in Florida.

Since taking over in May 2010, Tallon has got his club to the playoffs just once, during the 2011-12 season, where they lost in seven games of the first round to the New Jersey Devils.

Tallon is also on his third coach in Florida.

He hired Kevin Dineen prior to the 2011-12 season. Then in November 2013, Tallon replaced Dineen, who led the Panthers to a record 56-62-28 with Peter Horachek. Horachek lasted just 66 games as the team’s interim coach.

On June 21, Tallon appointed his latest bench boss, Gerard Gallant. Gallant’s only other head coaching experience in the NHL was parts of three seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2003-06 where he failed to reach the postseason.

Gallant’s track record, though brief, doesn’t really give you confidence if you’re a Panthers fan does it?

Tallon may not be doing much more hiring behind the bench, I mean how many swings and misses does a guy get?

This summer, Tallon signed Shawn Thornton, Dave Bolland and Willie Mitchell – all who have Stanley Cup experience in addition to Jussi Jokinen and Al Montoya. Tallon has to hope the vets mixed with the youngsters proves to be the right chemistry because if his job isn’t on the line at the moment, it certainly will be soon.

Florida finished with just 66 points last season well back of the 93 points Detroit needed to qualify for the second wild card spot. The Panthers play in the Atlantic Division with Boston, Montreal, Tampa Bay and Detroit – it’ll be a tall task for Tallon and Co. to avoid missing the playoffs for a third consecutive year.

Related: Panthers’ power play can only improve next season

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen