« No Tony Tavares, so how 'bout John Tavares? ... David Booth Still Out for a While | Main | David Booth Has Setback »

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.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

the only part I disagree with is Cohen saying he left the team in better shape then when he took over.

I have met Mr. Cohen multiple times on road trips and believe he really wanted a winner; his problem is that he was star struck and he listened to the wrong people (i.e. Keenan, Martin, Dudley).

I really hope the new owners build an organization with a winning attitude and not one with a lack of professionalism (the logo in the urinals)

Mostly, I hope the new owners embrace the alumni of this team so that the history of the panthers (pre Yormark) are honored. We need to learn the lessons of the blackhawks and not rely on the lessons of the lightning (that is where Yormark looks for guidance).

It is a new beginning and lets hope it is for the better 9 years without making the playoffs is way too long.

I agree. I am completely excited to see the Panthers finally have some change for the better,at least I hope so. I know I speak for every Florida Panther fan when I say, I want the cup! Not just the playoffs, which of coarse would be great, but I want a true contender, something they used to call back in the day...A(Dynasty.


Congrads! on the birth of your sister's twins! Good luck uncle George!

Same old lame old. George I wish you would grow a sack and call it like it is. Yormark is destroying this team. Already the two new lackeys made the decision for Sexton to report to Yormark who knows nothing about hockey. Yormark is single handedly destroying this franchise. And I am not spouting. This is from friends that I have still working for the team. First Yormark went after Keenan, then he undermined Martin and now he is polluting Deboer who is rapidly making a bad name for himself around the league due to Yormarks interfering. This team is the worst run franchise in sports right now.

JJ is right, they already made their first big mistake handing them off to Yormark.
Yormark compares everything to Tampa and he has runned this franchise to the ground.

The ownership group needs to hire a hockey person for the GM to report to. they need to get credibility in the hockey community as well as with the fans

Having Sexton report to Yormark is having a non hockey person run the hockey side.

I guess the logo in the urinal is a metaphor for where Yormark is going to take this franchise.

Hire someone who knows hockey Gretsky is available but is smart enough to stay away from this mess.

The excitement of new ownership is off as they have already made their first major mistake

Season Ticket Holder,

There is or was a great hockey mind in the organization by the name of Bill Torrey. It is evident that the new owners as well as Cohen thought that Yormark knows more about how to build a hockey team then a Hall of Fame builder. I can only believe that when Bill Torrey was charged with the job of finding a real GM to run the team he was brushed aside and Yormark choose Sexton which is the cheaper way to go. You mean to tell me that when you have guys available like Pierre Mcguire or Neil Smith available you go with Randy Sexton? That is the biggest farce there is. I can't imagine anyone who know anything about hockey wanting to come down here while Yormark is with this team. He has one of the worst reps in the league.

On another note Yormark has the nerve to aske the county to rework the arena deal when teachers are getting laid off and the quality of education is going down hill in Broward? Park hours are reduced and library's are closing. Local Police and Fire Departments are facing budget cuts and we are supposed to feel sorry for Yormark, the Bank Atlantic Center and the Panthers? Give me a break.

Like I said, I just wish the local sports people would turn up the heat on Yormark and expose him for the fraud that he is.

I'm not going to blast the new owners yet...They truly are crazy for taking a team with this many losses. The situation is horrible, and it will be like climbing Mount Everest to get a winner out of this organization. You can hear a pin drop in the arena on game day.

Good luck to the new owners, they are going to need it! Sexton reporting to Yormack? I don't know about that one...

the first move could be the biggest move these guys make, on of the first things Cohen did was not listen to Torrey and he let Chuck Fletcher go. Now the new guys have the GM reporting to a non hockey person, things will not change with this reporting system, they will only get worse

Totally forgot about Chuck Fletcher. He only went to Anaheim and helped them to their first Stanley Cup win. Then went on to Pittsburgh and won the Stanley Cup there as well. Boy we are in awesome shape with Yormark at the helm! I would rather have the Captain of the Titanic running the team. He could not do worse!

FLA Kittens- How could you not blast the new owners as they have already lost their collective minds having Yormark run the whole thing?? Do you really feel comfortable with that??

Email to:

Mr. Viner & Mr. Seigel:

Please clarify if it is true that Randy Sexton will be reporting to Michael Yormark. If it is true, season ticket holders since the 1994-1995 season will not be returning next year. Accountability: Yormark is kindly asked to take his services elsewhere. He is ruining hockey as true hockey fans know it. We are paying for hockey, not the BankAtlantic Center 3-ring circus.

Please tell me this is not true.


Others please do the same and let them know.


You can't blast them on their first day on the job. I'm having faith that it is only short term until they hire a VP of hockey operations who handles all hockey matters. A Parcells like situation would be great for this organization. I'm being optimistic this "week."

they should hire Denis Potvin to run the hockey side.

and here is the quote: "Viner also announced one structural change — the Hockey Operations Department will now report to Chief Operating Officer Michael Yormark. That department previously reported only to Cohen.

"Michael understands every part of what it takes for us to be successful as a total hockey franchise," Viner said"

....Potvin 4 cups!...I miss that flashing in the arena at Rangers games!

Fla Kittens,

I would really love to be optimistic but I have a past history with this team as well as still having some friends work there and knowing what I know I cannot be optimistic. At least 75% of why this organization is failing miserably is because of Michael Yormark.

I cannot begin to tell you how many hard working and dedicated employees are no longer there because of him. Don't you find it odd how many players or employees leave the Panthers to find success elsewhere? For example here is a name you probably don't know. Ned Collett used to be in charge of the arena and booking acts to come there. He was an awesome person to work for and a top name in the industry but left the organization for greener pastures after Cohen bought the team and brought Yormark in. Let's not forget that this is Yormark's second stint with the team. If he was so great the first time around then how come Wayne Huizenga did not notice his "talent" for running a team and keep him on before Cohen but the team.

Yes I would love to be optimistic about the team but on the other hand I would love to be optimistic that Al Qaida will go away but I know what reality is.

My answer to my previously posted email to the new majority owners.

Thanks for your note TAP! We appreciate your business and passion for the Panthers from nearly day one!

Michael Yormark is our president. As such, we thought it was important organizationally to have all our key executives report into him so that he can coordinate the organization properly. While Randy Sexton reports to him on the organizational chart, Michael, Cliff and I will be relying upon our GM to make the hockey personnel decisions. Pete DeBoer and the coaching staff report into Randy. This is not unlike our CFO, who also reports into Michael. That doesn't mean that Michael makes the financial and accounting decisions, but rather that he delegates those decisions to the experts and makes sure that the entire organization is in synch on all decisions. This was a MAJOR flaw in our organization previously, that hopefully we have cleaned up.

Michael is the first one who will tell you that he is not qualified to run the hockey side of our team. Michael reports to me, and I promise that it will run as I say above.

Look forward to seeing you cheer at the BAC for many years to come. I'll be there cheering with you, through hopefully better days!



Let it be known that I just said I'm being optimistic this "week." Clock's ticking till next Tuesday! We will see what the state of the Panthers are then...Did things really change?

I'm sorry to hear that the Panther organization has let go of talented people, it happens, I hope they all went off to greenier work places.

We can only be optimistic honestly. I mean, We have new owners now. A new GM, a new head coach and we are bringing in new players(whether all-stars or not,they are new) I say, we give these new owners a chance to show us they mean business. For all we know, they might not like Yor-Mark and decide it's time to go in another direction. We all wanted some change right? We now have that change. let's give that change a chance..

If the new owners are serious about change, then they will toss Yormark out of the BAC on his arse. The guy is a cancer and from what I am hearing the new "owners" have the same amount of faith in him as Cohen. In short, there really is no change at all. Just new "owners" making the same mistakes. Change would have been a completely new owner who would have brought in some REAL hockey people. Not continue on with some cross between a carpet bagger and used car salesman.

Hey Tap,

What is the email address to write the owners?

email there lastname then first initial @sselive.com. That should catch them.. As far was working there, it was fun, but at the end, Yormark starting lying about what was going to happen and doing differently. I felt he was a dishonest person who only looked out for himself and Pedro Goncavles. People think of the Panthers as a joke and won't have any dealings with them because of Yormark. What a jerk.

vinerc@sselive.com or siegels@floridapanthers.com

Let's remember too that a lot of the off season signings have just one year contracts...Moore, Seidenberg, Leopold, Sexton all have one year contracts. I think Yormack is in charge so he can "fire" away at the end of the season maybe earlier.

Yes but that's also part of the problem as our 1-year signings are more valuable than our long-term signings (Horton, Weiss, Olesz, Ballard, etc).....

Personally I don't want to see the team fail, but it may be best for the future if they fall out of it sooner than later....This should bring some changes that are long overdue, rather than sugar-coating the fact that they don't have the right guys... At the end of the year, they'll be able to use the Booth injury as an excuse, but they'll have to realize that the CORE (Horton, Weiss, Olesz, Frolik) just isn't good enough to rely on to build your franchise around!!!

I like Horton(even though I think he VASTLY underachieves), Weiss, and Booth as a SECOND scoring line. I've been spouting off for two years now that we need a LEGIT 1st scoring line, instead of signing UFA's that are 2nd & 3rd line guys and forcing them into ice time and situations that they simply CANNOT excel in. there's a reason other(more competently run clubs) don't try to force those same players into roles that they don't belong in. I think signing Olsez to that long-term deal was premature and impulsive. I think Rhino and Dvorak would be great 3rd line players on any team, and the 4th line is usually made up of a mesh of gritty vets or call-ups from the farm club(translation: bangers that can be had for next to nuthin). This franchinse has been out of the playoffs CONSISTENTLY for the last 9, going on 10, years. But they STILL can't seem to find a way to parlay that futility into more than one "superstar" draft pick. We had a good one with Bouw, but could never build enough around him to make the playoffs, and in turn, lost him for next to nuthin. Such is the plight of today's Panther Fan. We are the laughing stock of the league(other than The Leafs, who are revilied more for they're history of success that they are for they're current failures) and are constantly asked why we still HAVE a team. To our "new" ownership co-partners: If you change it, I will keep coming, if not, your just keeping the seat warm until he have nothing left.......the clocks tickin.


I have a feeling your fourth line will soon come true. With Tarnasky and Booth coming back to the line up, I think there is room for changes or trades. We need guys like Oreskovich, McArdle, McIntrye on our fourth line for grit. Once McIntrye is ready, I have a feeling it will be shopping time for Sexton. There are certainly some guys who may be the odd man out.


Michael Yormark might not be making the hockey decisions as to who to keep, draft, trade and sign but he is the one that told the season ticket holders that they will be scouting using video instead of going to the games and learning about the people.

Video tape can only show you so much just like statistics, they don't tell the whole story.

If you don't interview people at the games, and see the intangibles such as character. In hockey you need character players as much as the sniper or big goalie.

those are the decisions that have cost this franchise during the Cohen/Yormark years.

It is little decisions like not renewing Denis Potvin who gave this organization credibility. It is the decision to fire Stanley and hire a lame imitation, it is the decision to sell advertising spaces in the urninals so that fans of other teams can relieve themselves on the team logo.

It is removing the den of honor, it is ignoring the alumni, when former players are at the areana they should be recognized, like they do in Toronto and Montreal.

The original panthers respected and played for the logo on the front of the jersey.

When management doesn't respect the logo how do you expect the players to respect the logo, when the organization does not show loyalty to the former players how can you expect the players to show loyalty to the organization.

This is the Yormark legacy, he has made this organization one of the laughing stock organizations in sports. He has made a first class arena into an advertising board. He has made the product he is suppose to be selling into an afterthought.

I stick by my earlier statement that this is a big mistake!

Season Ticket Holder since day one:

Great response, but I just passed on the email reply I got from our new majority owner Stu Seigel. I was so shocked by his response that I felt others who care about the Panthers should know that they think Michael Yormark is the solution. We hockey fans can see he is the problem. I hope you will email your post to Mr. Seigel & Mr. Viner. I agree with your post 100%.

The comments to this entry are closed.