Report: Tallon is calling the shots again for the Panthers


It sounds like Dale Tallon is back to doing that thing he allegedly never stopped doing. So does this mean he’s no longer freezing his butt off in rinks while scouting?

OK, that’s confusing, right? Let’s walk this back.

Back in July when Tom Rowe was named GM and Tallon was promoted to director of hockey operations of the Florida Panthers, a lot of people would have placed “promoted” in quotation marks. Many believed that Tallon was handed a fancy title while believers in fancy stats would be making the key personnel decisions.

From the way they spent their money during the summer to the controversial firing of Gerard Gallant, it certainly seemed like there was a change in pace, even if Tallon insisted that he had the final call on decisions. Many in the hockey world frankly disagree with Tallon’s public assessment of his power in the organization.

Now it appears as if though Tallon really is making those GM-type decisions again, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. Here’s the first in a line of tweets on the subject from Dreger:

And, just to remind you of the confusion over who wears the pants in the Panthers family:


Dreger notes that, since Rowe decided to serve as interim head coach, Tallon is tasked with “fixing things” and running the hockey operations on a day-to-day basis. It’s totally reasonable to wonder what this means for the analytical approach, especially when Dreger reports that Tallon wants to (wait for it) make the Panthers “tougher to play against.”

(Code for … well, all sorts of anti-fancy-stat things, at least generally speaking.)

If you want the tl;dr version: Tallon is, more or less, back to being GM of the Panthers, according to Dreger’s report. He appears to be “back in power.”

This comes a day after the Panthers were roasted for a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild, with many a stat-hater trotting out their favorite “I told you so” tweets.

For some, this is the Panthers trying to “stabilize” management, as Dreger concludes. Others wonder if this is yet another move made in the interest of “optics.”

Of course, there are plenty of other people who just believe that this is one big mess. Actually, that might be the one thing that both sides of the “stats” debate would probably agree upon right now.

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.