When Gerard Gallant landed the head coaching job with the Florida Panthers, he left a major impression on the team’s owner.
Panthers Vice Chairman Douglas Cifu spoke about the process with Jameson Olive of Fox Sports Florida and said the former Columbus Blue Jackets coach hit a home run in his interview with owner Vincent Viola.
“We asked Dale to screen a dozen or so candidates and send up to Virtu in New York the top 5-6 finalist,” Cifu said. “Gerard was the first candidate to come for a visit. He spent 30 minutes with Vinnie and Vinnie said, ‘He’s the guy, don’t need to see anyone else.'”
If you don’t recall, the Panthers had a coaching wish-list that included five or six other men. Having Gallant hit it out of the park right away says a lot about him. Now the team hopes he can have as much of an instant impact on the players as he did on the owners.
Cifu said he was equally impressed by Gallant who left his position as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens to join the Panthers. He was last a NHL head coach in 2006-07 with the Jackets.
Gallant had spent three seasons as the coach of the St. John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major-Junior Hockey League from 2009-2012 where he coached Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau. The young star is excited about having the coach that led him to two Memorial Cups with him in Sunrise.
Remember when the new owners of the Florida Panthers asked Broward County for money because they claimed to be losing $20-$30 million annually? Politicians there reportedly support the plan to help out the franchise.
Brittany Wallman of the Sun Sentinel reports six out of eight Broward County commissioners support a plan to give money to the team to help make sure the team stays in South Florida. The Panthers are asking for an extra $80 million.
Team co-owner Douglas Cifu said the money is needed because they’re bleeding money even worse than what was previously assessed.
“We’re losing $100,000 a day,” said Cifu. “So where I sit, time is of the essence.”
The one good thing going for the Panthers is they have one of the best lease deals in the NHL. Concerts and other events at BB&T Center are making money for the team and the deal runs through 2028.
Working against the Panthers is the amount of debt left to pay on the arena, totaling around $225 million. The team is looking to get a break on payments against that through money taken from tourist taxes that have produced more money than they expected over the years.
When the Florida Panthers hosted the Ottawa Senators at BB&T Center in Sunrise Tuesday night, they did so in front of a lightly-attended crowd.
The announced attendance of 10,074 was the franchise’s lowest number since Halloween 2008 when they drew 10,063 to a game against then division-rival Carolina.
As George Richards of the Miami Herald shares via Twitter, that number may have been a bit higher than what actually attended the game.
You have to wonder what new owner Vincent Viola thinks of all this.
Of course, the Panthers haven’t had much success in recent years. Aside from their Southeast Division title in 2012, playoffs have been an extreme rarity in South Florida. As we’ve seen just about everywhere that isn’t Canada, missing the playoffs every year takes its toll on attendance.
Now that the Florida Panthers have new ownership, they’re reportedly ready to shake things up.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports new owners Vincent Viola and Douglas Cifu aren’t happy with the team’s slow start and are ready to move any of their veteran players. Who can be had for the right price? Pretty much anyone.
Forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg, Scottie Upshall, Shawn Matthias, Brad Boyes and Marcel Goc are among those available along with Tom Gilbert and Dmitry Kulikov, just to name a few.
The Panthers are 3-6-0 to start the season which in the Eastern Conference puts them a short winning streak away from being a playoff team. They’re just four points back of third place Montreal and six back of Atlantic Division leading Detroit and Toronto. In other words, it’s too soon to be throwing in the towel.
That said, new owners looking to do business their way isn’t anything new and GM Dale Tallon could have new marching orders.
As it is, they’ve got a solid young core with 2013 Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau, 2013 first-round pick Aleksander Barkov, defenseman Erik Gudbranson, and goalie Jacob Markstrom. Building off of them has likely been the plan all along.
A new era is about to start in Sunrise.
The Florida Panthers made it official today announcing the sale of the franchise to New York City businessman Vincent Viola for what’s believed to be $230 million. (Update: John Shannon of Sportsnet says it’s for $250 million with about half of that going to creditors) His official title is chairman, principal owner and governor of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and the Panthers. That’s a mouthful.
Viola is purchasing the team from, now former owner, Cliff Viner and his group of investors. Panthers coach Kevin Dineen tells George Richards of the Miami Herald he’s proud of what Viner did for the franchise.
“Cliff leaves the franchise much better than how he found it,” coach Kevin Dineen told the Miami Herald. “He leaves us on solid ground and heading in the right direction.”
Joining Viola in the front office is Douglas Cifu as vice chairman, partner and alternate governor. Michael Yormark, who you may recall from past Twitter dustups, is promoted to team president and CEO.
With new ownership in place, the team was able to sign goalie Tim Thomas to a one-year deal yesterday. Perhaps this is a sign of things making a a successful turnaround both on and off the ice for the Panthers.