Panthers owner says Tallon always had final say, confusing us further


Even if you think their struggles are a bit overblown when you dig deeper, things were pretty messy for the Florida Panthers last night. Now, more than anything else, it all feels … a little confusing.

Earlier on Wednesday, we discussed Darren Dreger’s report about GM Dale Tallon more-or-less regaining many of the GM powers people believed that he lost after a “promotion” many believe was a glorified demotion.

(Catches breath for a second.)

Dreger came on NBCSN tonight to explain everything a bit more:

Confused yet? If not, this might do the trick: Panthers owner Vincent Viola told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that little has really changed regarding Tallon and the team’s power structure.

“As far as I am concerned, Dale has always had final say over hockey decisions,” Viola said by telephone. “What we had done is bifurcate Dale from some things he didn’t need to worry about anymore [negotiating contracts, for example]. But, in terms of player decisions, it is his call.”

For what it’s worth, that actually does jive with what Tallon said during a conference call in May:

“I wasn’t a big fan of doing contracts,” Tallon said. “It frees me up to do what I think I do best, and that’s go scout, evaluate talent, mentor our young guys, and help develop them.

Friedman brings up a good question, then: why would this sprout up now if nothing has changed?

Basically, it comes down to a few possibilities, including these:

  1. Viola and Tallon are both telling the truth; he really is calling the shots.
  2. We might not totally understand the Panthers’ structure because they’re doing something different. Titles like “GM” could be a little fuzzier in their setup.
  3. Tallon is a figurehead for fans who wouldn’t accept a “fancy stats” approach. By claiming that he’s regaining power amid this latest wave of criticism for analytics, the Panthers might buy themselves some time.
  4. Or, maybe Tallon was a figurehead as discussed in point 3, but now he’s calling the shots in a way that’s closer to 1 and 2.

Ultimately, actions will be speak louder than words. If the Panthers take a more “traditional” approach, then many will believe that Tallon did get more of a say. If they lean toward “analytics,” maybe not?

Of course, they could also do a little of both, which would indicate that decisions are made by a committee, much like the Toronto Maple Leafs’ current approach.

For what it’s worth, Panthers beat reporters Harvey Fialkov (of the Florida Sun-Sentinel) and George Richards (of the Miami Herald) pass along word that nothing’s changed.

Dreger believes that the executives’ responses mainly boil down to semantics.

So, long story short? Yeah, this is all pretty confusing.

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers


The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.