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Bill Torrey Speaks: Say Goodbye to Jay Bouwmeester

Torrey2 Bill Torrey, who is leading the search for the Panthers new general manager, spoke to the Florida beat writers today on a conference call to update us on the search.

So far, Mr. Torrey has interviewed a few people saying he spent a few days in Toronto. He'll be meeting with more people next week in T.O. and Montreal as well.

He also alluded to the trade of Jay Bouwmeester's exclusive rights, saying he expects to be on the phone all weekend. He added that assistant GM Randy Sexton is working the phones as well.

"We're at the point where decisions have to be made and we have to move ahead,'' Torrey said. ''We're working on the process.''

He won't rush this process, he says, because he would rather be long than be wrong.Torrey adds that he has about 60 legitimate applicants for the gig.

"It's been a very interesting process,'' he said. "I thought there would be quite a bit of interest in the job, have over 60 inquiries one way or another.

''I've gotten far enough along, starting to do face to face interviews. I want to get to the point where the serious candidates are personally interviewed, perhaps more than once. There are very few who I don't know something about previously.''

On not naming names:

"It will encumber the process, slow it a bit and create some situations I don't really need. I have been given permission by teams to talk to people, but they don't what those names out there. I promised I wouldn't. So what's good for some is good for all.

"I've spoken to Alan and the ownership here, they understand the circumstances. We have this issue [draft, free agency], that they've asked me to participate in. It's a very busy week. I won't complete the process before the draft. I will meet people up north next week. We're moving along well. Interest is very encouraging.

''I would like be able to announce it tomorrow in a certain sense, but this is too important a hiring. This franchise will benefit from stability. I hope the man I pick will be here a long time and bring this franchise a lot of success.

"I want this hire to be as permanent as it can be in this business. We have stability behind the bench, with our scouting staff. I've been impressed with how they've dug in and prepared for the draft. We're moving ahead in all areas.

"We have a few decision that have to be made before the first of July. The process is going to go forth. Most important thing is finding the right person. We have some good people in place, and that's different. I've made that clear to the candidates. Pete DeBoer is going to be our coach and so on down the line. I haven't heard a single negative about that by anyone. Everyone was really impressed with the job Peter did. People in hockey have known him for years. He's a real benefit.

''It's my responsibility to identify the best candidate. I've been in touch with present ownership as well as prospective ownership. They are aware of what we're doing and where we're at. They seem very comfortable with it.''