The Florida Panthers are looking for goaltending excellence.
On Tuesday the team introduced what it is calling its “goaltending excellence department” to oversee the goalies at every level of the organization.
The department will be led by long-time goaltending coach Francois Allaire, who has been hired as a consultant, as well as former Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo.
Luongo also currently serves as a special advisor to general manager Bill Zito.
Rob Tallas, the Panthers’ NHL goalie coach, and Leo Luongo, the goalie coach for the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, will also be a part of this department.
“Francois is a revered and highly influential figure in our game who has mentored a number of goaltenders to elite levels of play,” said Zito in a team statement. “Francois and Roberto provide us with unmatched experience and an exceptional pedigree. Their guidance, in tandem with our goaltending excellence staff gives us confidence in the evaluation of future talent and that Panthers goaltenders will be provided invaluable resources for their success and development.”
What exactly is this department going to do?
From the Panthers:
The Panthers first-of-its-kind department will focus on a comprehensive, integrated experience and program for all goaltenders in the Panthers system and will coordinate and oversee coaching, development and scouting. Upon joining the organization, a Panthers goaltender will experience consistent communication, guidance and unified instruction from the goaltending excellence staff.
It still remains to be seen how this differs from just having several goalie coaches, but it is a lot of experience to work with their players. Given how much the Panthers have invested in the position it makes sense that they would want to throw as many resources at it as possible. Especially given how poor the results have been at the position the past two years. They have ranked 30th and 19th in team save percentage during that time, and it has played a big role in their disappointing spot in the standings each year.
Sergei Bobrovsky is entering the second year of his seven-year, $70 million contract and is coming off the worst performance of his NHL career. The Panthers signed him in free agency a year ago in the hopes that he could help solidify the position and maybe lift them back to a playoff spot. It did not work out. Given his importance, and the enormity of his contract, him bouncing back is an absolute must for the Panthers this season and beyond.
Bobrovsky’s signing was just part of the significant long-term investment the team made in the position. They also used their first-round pick (No. 13 overall) on goalie Spencer Knight.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.