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.