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.