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Horton, Soup Say Thanks and Good Day to the Panthers

Hortonsoup LAS VEGAS – When Nathan Horton told general manager Dale Tallon he wasn't sure he wanted to play for the Florida Panthers anymore, Tallon didn't hesitate on making sure Horton didn't have to.

Horton, the third overall pick in 2003, was traded to Boston on Tuesday along with grinder Gregory Campbell.

The Panthers got back defenseman Dennis Wideman as well as the 15th overall pick in Friday's draft.

Florida also received Boston's third round pick next year.

“You have to move what you can move, have to move the assets that are valuable commodities,'' said Tallon, who was named Florida's ninth general manager in May.

“Sometimes have to make these moves looking Horton forward to the future. [Horton] was obviously frustrated in what had happened in the past. He wanted me to see what was out there for him. He felt it might be better if he could go somewhere else. Nothing surprises me in this business. We have to do what's best for the Florida Panthers period.''

Said Horton: “I think it's time. It's been a great time in Florida, but it hasn't worked out well for anyone who has been there the past couple of years. It might be good for change.''

Horton did say that he enjoyed playing in South Florida, noting that it has become his home. He and wife Tammy were married there and their son Dylan was born there. But playing for the Panthers had become frustrating as the team hasn't made the playoffs in an NHL record-tying nine consecutive seasons.

Going to a tradition-rich franchise like Boston seems to have Horton, whose agent is Bruins legend Bobby Orr, excited.

Since Horton joined the Panthers, the franchise has had five different coaches (Mike Keenan, Rick Dudley, John Torchetti, Jacques Martin and Pete DeBoer) as well as five different general managers (Dudley, Keenan, Martin, Randy Sexton and Tallon).

“I'm not saying anything bad about the organization, but there have been five coaches in the time I've been there,'' Horton said. “Now, I'm going to a stable, historic organization. I'm going to give it all I've got. I think it'll be good. .-.-. As a player, the best part of hockey is the playoffs. When you don't make them for seven years or whatever, that's too long. It can't happen. [In Boston], that doesn't happen. It's exciting for me to come and be a part of it.''

The Bruins are desperate for an offensive surge after scoring a league-low 196 goals last season. But the Panthers aren't exactly known for torching opposing goaltenders, either, scoring just six more goals than Boston did last season.

Horton has scored at least 20 goals in each of his past five seasons and is widely regarded as the team's most talented offensive player. His absence is going to make Florida's offense even less potent.

Wideman has scored 46 goals with 119 assists in 378 NHL games over the course of five seasons with Boston and St. Louis and is a good puck mover with a decent right-handed shot. But he's not going to replace Horton's numbers – nor is he expected to.

“You just have to just move on and get excited about the new guy,'' DeBoer said. “Dale has a blueprint on how to build this team. He's going piece by piece. We all see the weaknesses from goal scoring. The reality is, the group we had was not getting job done. Changes are expected.''

Soup3 Campbell thanked the Panthers for giving him a shot to become a regular NHL player. Campbell had a career year in 2008-09 when he scored 13 goals with 19 assists, but he struggled last season, managing just 17 points off two goals. Campbell is a restricted free agent.

“There's always mixed feelings in a trade and I had a great time in Florida, made some great friends,'' Campbell said. “But I'm excited to be part of the Boston organization. I haven't played in the NHL playoffs yet, so I'm excited to get that chance in Boston. I watched the playoffs pretty closely. It's not fun ending your season in April.''

Horton's desire for the game has come into question before, although DeBoer praised him for his attitude last season. “He had turned a corner,'' DeBoer said. With Horton unwilling to commit to the organization fully, Tallon decided to part ways. And adding another draft pick is just another chip for Tallon as he tries to rebuild a broken franchise.

“You have to start with goaltending and defense and work our way out,'' Tallon said. “We wanted to make a good deal, a fair deal. We wanted a first round pick, a right handed shot to help our power play. In the long run, want to build through the draft. There were a lot of [potential trade] partners, a lot of scenarios. This one made the most sense.''


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