Devils run legitimizes Panthers

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The New Jersey Devils aren’t looking particularly good right now, but making it to the Stanley Cup finals is an accomplishment in itself. It also reinforces the idea that Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon has already assembled a team capable of competing with the big boys. After all, the Panthers took the Devils to overtime in Game 6 of the first round and double-overtime in Game 7.

Just one good bounce, and things could have turned out very differently for Florida.

“It just gives you some indication of what Dale has already accomplished in the plan up until now and what we should be able to achieve going forward,” Panthers General Partner Cliff Viner said after Florida signed Tallon to a multi-year extension.

After going more than a decade between playoff games, the Panthers are finally relevant again and the architect of that transformation isn’t planning on leaving any time soon.

“I want to be here forever,” Tallon said. “I’m still a young man. I’m fit. I’m willing and I’m able. I like it in Florida. I like Cliff Viner. I like working with him and I like working in this organization. We have a long way to go but I’m excited about our future. I couldn’t think of being in any other place. This is a thrill and I’m proud as hell to be a Florida Panther.”

He’s already preparing for the 2012-13 campaign with the goal of taking things a step further next season.