Under Pressure: Dale Tallon

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This post is part of Panthers Day on PHT…

As much as Dale Tallon insisted that nothing changed last season as far as how the Florida Panthers were run, this off-season’s moves sure seem to indicate that he has a different vision for the team.

The Panthers parted ways with Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and Jussi Jokinen. They seemingly shopped Keith Yandle and Jason Demers, two defensemen who were seemingly favored by the “analytics” regime. It’s tough to imagine that same group being on board with adding a limited enforcer like Micheal Haley, either.

Both sides might have signed off on letting Jaromir Jagr walk, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some Panthers fans who are upset by that decision.

With Evgeni Dadonov and Radim Vrbata now in the fold, the Panthers stand to be quite a different team in 2017-18, especially with a new head coach in Bob Boughner.

Under normal circumstances, a new-look team would probably get a pretty long leash, but this isn’t as much a reboot as it is a rewind by Tallon. Aside from last season’s one-year disturbance, Tallon has been in charge since 2010. During that time, the Panthers made two trips to the postseason without winning a single playoff series.

Chicago Blackhawks fans giving Tallon an ovation at the 2017 NHL Draft was understandable, but tough not to mock considering how long he’s had to build the Panthers into something resembling a threat to contending teams.

During that brief time when Tallon was seemingly “promoted” to a lesser spot, he made it pretty clear that he prefers more traditional approaches to team-building.

“That’s the trend,” Tallon said in June 2016, via the Chicago Tribune. “You have to use all your data to make yourself better. Everybody is using it, and you have to stay on top of it. How you use it is the most important part, but it still comes down to (a player’s) heart, character, skill and desire and those (intangible) things that are important.”

Plenty of people seemed outraged with the way Tallon was treated, and later, how Gerard Gallant was fired.

While some of that was understandable, there was still a perceptible tug-of-war between the two approaches, and now it looks like Tallon won.

You know what they say, though: be careful what you wish for.

The Panthers have a strong chance to be better in 2017-18 if key players such as Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau merely stay healthy. Either way, if this team stumbles, you have to wonder how many chances ownership will feel comfortable handing to Tallon.

Fair or not, many will judge his vision based on how the Panthers fare this coming season.

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.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.