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Cliff Viner Talks Florida Panthers: "We're a Sleeping Giant''

CliffThe Panthers made a minor change in their management structure on Friday as Cliff Viner took sole control of the organization.

In November, Viner and Stu Siegel were named co-general partners in the hockey club and arena management company, running its daily operations together.

Siegel will remain a partner in the franchise and run the team's charitable foundation as he has since 2008. Viner says no shares in the team nor money was exchanged between the two partners. Viner and Siegel took over the franchise from Alan Cohen last year – although, like Siegel, Cohen still owns part of the team.

Viner says he has been working on restructuring the team's finances as well as working on ticket and sponsorship packages of late. Siegel is said to be turning over his responsibilities with the team to re-focus his energies on his other businesses.

“There was strength in having the two heads together at the outset as we made a new strategic plan,'' said Viner, who becomes the CEO and NHL governor of the Panthers immediately.

“The two of us really worked together to change the plan for what we wanted to do. I'm happy we started the way we did, I'm happy with the outcome. We're a long was from where we were in November. We're in a better place.''

Viner is a season ticket holder from Boca Raton who first invested in the Panthers in 2003. He became more involved with the team in 2007, and began working with the front office last summer during the transition from the Cohen ownership group. Although Viner and Siegel weren't officially running the team at the time, they approved Randy Sexton becoming the team's full-time general manager on Oct. 2, 2009, and later had Bill Torrey lead a search for a new GM.

Former Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon was hired by Viner and Siegel in May. Viner and Siegel also approved a larger front office budget for Tallon, although the team will have a lower payroll than it did last season when it finished 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference. The Panthers currently have a payroll around $50 million – about $10 million below the league's salary cap.

Viner says the Panthers are turning a new page and going in the right direction. He adds that South Florida is big enough to support not only Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and the Heat, but the hockey team as well.

“I'm very excited. I have a passion for the business and love the people I have met in the business,'' Viner said. “That's what drives me. We have such a terrific sleeping giant; a little success and people will see why we got involved in the first place.

"This is a big enough market for all of us. We need to show some success. Everyone knows our lack of success the past 10 years. But the place is ready for us, the fans are hungry. They like our brand, but they haven't had much to cheer about. Give them that and the perception of our franchise will change dramatically.''


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The only thing I have heard that makes me shudder is that the so called 3rd jersey is going to become our primary Jersey. God i freaking hope not the baby blue and that awful round logo are the worst things on the team. The third jersey ought to have been a reverse of the home blue making the body red and the sleeve blue. The logo ought to have been the classic Panther biting through the hockey stick, that would have been cool. The current 3rd is awful!

agreed.

It this point, if I were management(and had half a brain...sorry Yormark), I would do everything I could to attempt to associate myself with the EARLY winning tradition and memory of this once proud franchise, and that goes for the jersey, as well.....if it ain't broke.

Yes the 3rd jersey is horrible. Some form of the original red would be ideal, but maybe the league thought there was already too many red-based jerseys(Caps, Flames, Canes, Coyotes, Avs, Hawks, Wings, Sens, Devils, Habs)...

Frankly I don't like either of the blues.. If they're looking to be unique, the should go with the gold or yellow-based jersey with the red and blue in the logo...

Personally, I think with a little tweaking (like 86ing the FLA logo and changing the light blue to something else) the 3rd jersey is actually better looking than the standard one but if it were up to me I would dump the uniforms and go with a complete redesign. Except for one playoff run the Panthers have absolutely no tradition that needs to adhered to so i think a fresh start for the team in every possible way should take place. I never liked the logo, uni design or colors. They looked like a bunch of matadors skating around out there with that horrible color scheme of dark blue, ketchup red and french's mustard yellow with a gold panther logo stuck on the jersey. That look hurt my eyes and I never thought the colors went together that well. How about dark blue, white and silver or maybe dark blue, white and gold with a better panther logo?

Being a contrarian, I like the third jersey. Not sure I like the team....Gagne to TB. Why do we never sign goal scorers?

Nice to see George on the hockey beat. Enjoy your summer covering food eating contests...

I agree with Catfan927 on the jeresy. The 3RD jersey is hard to even look at I hate even cheering for the team in it. Somebody needs to shake some sense into everyone running the Panthers and bring back the original red jersey. It has a winning tradition that says Panthers. When I look at the third jersey it reminds me of the Penguins and I absolutely hate it. The jersey is so bad if I had to choose between the third jersey and listening to Billy Lindsay's commentary every day I would take Billy Lindsay. The only jersey worse than the Panthers third jersey is the old Montreal Canadiens jersey with blue and red stripes. Bring back the old original red Panthers jersey as the team's primary jersey. It is classic and it is something you can cheer for.

There was nothing wrong with the original red jersey --just this continuing need to sell more stuff in the stores. This idea that every team needs to keep adding 3rd and 4th and so on and so forth is silly---the league went for years without doing this silly stuff. Ask the fans and they will tell you there was nothing wrong with the original reds. Gee, what jersey are they wearing tonight--I gotta have it(lol)

keeping a crappy jersey for a crappy team, makes perfect sense to me!

Catfan927, tell me yout not serious. Who the f**k cares about the 3rd jersey, not to mention the 1st or 2nd either. Gotta be a typical fla hockey fan.

No need for the personal attacks with regards to a jersey design/color. Your either a fan of the team, or your not.

Leaving your 2 cents worth shouldn't leave you without a soul for cryin out loud...Unless you never had one to begin with.

Panther prospect Jordan Henry has rejected his qualifying offer and signed with the KHL. Evigni Dadanov has stated that if doesn't make the Panthers (long shot) he will join the KHL as well. They're dropping like flies!!

This sleeping giant has been in snooze mode for a decade, and even with the nice moves Tallon has made, without a front-line scorer, the hibernation looks like it will continue!!!!

We did sign a pure scorer like 10 years ago in the name
Of Pavel Bure... That just set us back for 10 years! Bring back the panthers of yesteryear blue colar workers! Bring back the year of tha rat let's lettem fly this year LOL

Bill - You may be confusing Jordan Henry with Jordan Hendry who signed with the Dynamo Minsk of the Kontinental Hockey League.
http://forecaster.thehockeynews.com/hockeynews/hockey/player.cgi?3412

That KHL statement by Dadonov was made to Sexton & Co. not Tallon & Co...Cause if it was, Tallon would help him pack his s**t and tell him not to let the door him 'em where the dog should'a bit 'em, trust me. That just another one of the positive things about having a well respected "hockey man" as the face of your franchise/personel.

Dadonov stinks anyway!

Bill you were correct as The Hockey News / Forecaster changed their site to show Jordan Henry signed with the KHL not Jordan Hendry. They were wrong not you.

http://forecaster.thehockeynews.com/hockeynews/hockey/movements.cgi?none

Who cares about Dadonov, and the 3rd jersey is just another money making scheme. Rebuilding isn't fun and we've been rebuilding for 10 years.

Sorry to double post but rumor has it, Frolov will sign a 1-year deal with the dreaded Rangers. Hey Tallon, where were you man? Is Cliff not letting you open up the wallet (like Allen Cohen)? It'll be so fun this season to host a game vs the Rangers with all their crappy fans filling the BAC!

it will be interesting to see the next few years as to which organization is building the right way and which one isn't.

Tampa is doing their rebuilding a completely different way, not only are they getting respected hockey people in their hockey operations, they also have a highly respected hockey person as their CEO, Tod Leiweke.

Tod knows more about hockey in his left pinky then Yormark knows, by the way, Tod's old job is available, maybe Yormark will apply.

On the ice, Tampa is building for today and a fast move up while the panthers are building for 2-3 years down the road for long term success.

While I like what Tallon is doing, you have to change the whole culture of an organization like Tampa has done, replacing both the business side and the hockey side.

Until the business side changes in Yormarkland, we will see 2-3 years from know when the wool is pulled from under Tallon and the fans that it is the same old, same old

Not one to defend Yormark for any reason, but it's not his fault that we don't know how and haven't drafted well for 10++ years..

It's a lot easier for Tampa to rebuild as they're starting with legitimate talent in Stamkos, St Louis, Vinny, Malone, & Hedman.. We've got a rattle brained Booth, Weiss, Kulikov, and an expiring T-Vo... No comparison. It's our own fault because we should've been rebuilding over the last 5 years, instead of trying to sneak into the 8th seed...

Now the rebuild is on, and many still think by signing a few free agents, they may push for a playoff spot... That's not how it works. Building through the draft takes years, and you have to hope there's Toews and Kanes available in your lottery years...

I don't have patience either, but some of you have to let the process play out a bit... Let's encourage them to build character first, then the draft picks and acquisitons should eventually develop properly... I would be happy if Tallon would just add some team toughness for this year.. Gain some respect back, establish some physical play, and talent will come...

3rd Jersey = Jet Blue's exact colors.
Look at the colors and the fact that they brought it out within a week of Yormark announcing the Jet Blue deal. Nothing but more advertising from Yormark. Enough said...

Hank, you're actually more in line with what I'd call the "typical fla hockey fan". All you ever do is run your fat mouth about how miserable they are, and you whine like a 6 year-old about everything related to the team. You couldn't hold CatFan's jock when it comes to being a hockey fan. That dude knows his hockey, and is a real diehard Panthers fan. He simply made a statement about not liking the jersey, and you had to come on here and show what a completely obnoxious dickhead you are.

By the way, the jersey blows.

I do think Yormark shares part of the blame because over the past 10 years this team has constantly forced their prospects, who were unready at the time, to play on the Panthers way too early. Because of the cheapness of ownership, primarily Cohen but Yormark is Cohen's guy, this team constantly had to use guys before they were ready. Then, by the time they hit their stride, they are free agents and go or get traded. Horrible management, bad drafting, lack of budget for scouting, etc., the blame goes throughout the organization.

Tampa's defense may not be as bad as everyone thinks with Hedman having a year under his belt and playing with Ohlund. I think they'll be in the playoffs before the Panthers.

yormark is poison. Like his brother, his track record is of a guy who drags franchises down. He's never won anywhere. People in the NHL despise him.
viner better wake up.

The picture of Viner looks like the stuttering lawyer in "My Cousin Vinny".....

They will be a sleeping giant for another year. Don't expect any of the 2010 draft picks to make it into the lineup this year. They will all go back to their junior clubs for safekeeping. I think this season, we will be lucky to make into the playoffs. Next season, expect a huge turnover by this team to bring in the kids from this year's and last year's draft. That will be fun to see.

As far as Frolov, who cares? He could not cut it with LA Kings and Kopitar? Do we need him here on an overpriced contract? NOPE

Same thing with Gagne, the guy is a walking injury. He would be injured in the first week since this team lacks enforcers. Good luck to him in Tampa Bay.

I don't expect much of anything this year either. It WOULD be entertaining to at least have some toughness/goons to at least make some of our opponents leave here with a black eye and a busted lip instead of a tan!

GR, is there more to the story of Cliff and Stu?? Just curious to see if there was a soap opera in the making.

Also, it was great to see the Hockey News give the Cats an A+(!) as a draft score...although that was the only mention in the whole issue.

The Cats have to resolve the Vokoun situation ASAP. He is easily their best player and can keep the tem respectable for the short term while they continue to rebuild.

I like what Tallon has done in adding some grit and possible goal-scoring from Higgins and Bernier. Grabner has some upside and serious speed. Frolik has to step up this season.

Weiss has quietly proven he's a legitimate No. 1 center who can play a full schedule.

Question: should Weiss play with Frolik or should Frolik play on the second line?

How do you foresee the top 3 lines?

Pedro, at the moment i'd guess our lines look like this:

BOOTH - WEISS - FROLIK
HIGGINS - REINPRECHT - GRABNER
STILLMAN - MATTHIAS - BERNIER
OLESZ - REASONER - DVORAK

still lacking a top centre and maybe an out and out goal scorer in order to truly get places. All together tallon's already made his mark on a team and i like what i see in the foundations, still another few years of rebuilding is needed though.

pedro, weiss is not a #1 center. just on this team he is. a #2 at best. maybe lower

Well, todays events have probably sealed it. Trading away one of our most popular players for an ECHL defenseman has Santos a hated man here in Rochester. Florida, enjoy your last season in Rochester. You can't leave town fast enough.

Bring back the Orlando Solar Bears. I'm tired of the whining from Rochester anyway.

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