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A Big Change In Sunrise: Cliff Viner, Stuart Siegel Take Control

Owners The Panthers have a new management team in place as Cliff Viner (far left) and Stuart Siegel were named the new co-chairmen of the Panthers.

I wasn't at today's ownership announcement nor will I cover tonight's game because of a family matter I needed to commit to weeks ago.

But congratulations are in order to both Cliff and Stu, guys I got to know a lot better in our trip to Finland.

These guys are hockey nuts and will do their best to improve things with the Panthers.

That said, I wish Alan Cohen nothing but the best. I am sure he debated this move for a long time.

Few people love the Panthers as much as Cohen does and no one wanted them to succeed more than him. There wasn't much success during his tenure in owning the team, but sometimes things just don't work out. When he made the moves he made, he did it with the thought that the organization was moving forward.

“I want to thank Stu and Cliff for taking up this challenge,” Cohen said in a statement released by the Panthers. “This is a great market and they deserve a winner. The team will be very successful when that happens. I had a lot of fun and I know I leave the organization in much better shape than it was when I took it over. Hockey is loaded with good people, I was happy to be a part of it.”

And Alan will still continue to be part of the team as he retains a rather large stake in the team. I am told the league is very happy with that and because of that, this new management structure should be approved fairly easily.

In case you missed it, this is the story I wrote on the changes in today's Herald.

On the Panthers website, Siegel and Viner wrote an open letter to the fans. It can be found here.

It reads:

We want to take this opportunity to welcome you to a new day for the Florida Panthers hockey club. As of this morning, we have assumed the roles of Co-General Partners of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, and will be responsible for all the decision-making as it relates to this franchise, the BankAtlantic Center, and the organization as a whole.

That said, we thought now would be a good opportunity to share some of our philosophies with you, while also encouraging your feedback. You should know that we feel both a personal and professional responsibility to you, the fans, as well as all of our supporters, to run a first class organization and to achieve success both on and off the ice.

As local owners who live and work in the South Florida area, we are committed to developing a winning culture within this organization, something we haven’t had over the past few years. In addition, we will bring a stronger measure of accountability and accessibility to this franchise immediately.

Our goal is to build a hockey team that can sustain its success year in and year out, by building through the draft and minor leagues, and by making the right decisions in trades and free agency.

We believe in letting people do their jobs – from the general manager and the head coach down to the players themselves. By the same token, if the right decisions are not being made and we are not achieving our goals as a franchise, then it will be our job to hold people accountable for their actions.

As fans, you will always know where we stand as an organization. We will be accessible to you, and will give you as much information as possible about our hockey club. We will communicate with you, through the media, through letters like this one, through blogs and face-to-face at games and town hall meetings.

Our goals are simple: Make the playoffs, sustain success and build a franchise that we can all be proud of. And we want you, the fans, to feel like you are part of the team. We will accomplish this through our accountability and accessibility, but also through our community outreach, by giving back to South Florida, and making our presence felt throughout the region.

It is indeed a new day for the Florida Panthers, so let’s make the expectations clear from the start. We want to win – for our fans, our supporters, our partners, our employees and most of all, for you.

Thank you for your time and support and go Panthers.

-- Barry Jackson covered the press conference today from Sunrise and I will have more here later.