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Dale Tallon: Maturity (and a budget) Brought Panthers Patience on Day 1 ... Sexton, Birch Out

TallonhuetThe opening day of the NHL free agency period came and went without any news from the Florida Panthers.

General manager Dale Tallon said he would be patient and not get swept up in the moment and spend crazy money.

Tallon, as general manager of the Blackhawks, has been guilty of that in the past – Nikolai Khabibulin, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet come to mind.

But so, too, have the Panthers as they overspent on moderate players.

“Nothing surprises me on July 1,'' Tallon said of some of the big contracts handed out around the league Thursday. “The only thing I regret is that I can't play [anymore]. It's always amazing on July 1, people always overpay. We have to be patient and prudent. We've been active on the phone, trying to make deals that make sense.''

The Panthers did add a front office piece as Mike Santos was hired from Nashville to be the team's assistant general manager.

Sextondraft Randy Sexton, who was said to be a candidate for the job, will not be retained after his contract expired on Wednesday.

Sexton was the Panthers assistant GM under Jacques Martin from 2007 until taking over for Martin last summer.

Sexton was fired as GM in May when Tallon was hired but stayed on with the Panthers and was part of the war room during last week's draft in Los Angeles. 

Here's hoping Randy finds something soon.

Wouldn't be surprised to see him land in Pittsburgh as he and Ray Shero are close. Sexton's free agency signings last summer weren't much to talk about (although he didn't have much to work with throughout the summer with the ownership in flux) but he made some good moves at the deadline and stockpiled some draft picks that Tallon and the Panthers hope to get solid return on.

Jack Birch, hired by Mike Keenan in 2004 to be director of hockey operations, was also let go. Birch worked closely with the Panthers AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y.

Santos worked for the Panthers for parts of two seasons from 2001-03 before leaving to become president and commissioner of the North American Hockey League. Santos, the Preds director of hockey operations the past four seasons, has extensive minor league experience and will oversee the Panthers prospects in Rochester.

Santos, 45, will also be responsible for most day-to-day activities, allowing Tallon to “do what I do best and go out there and procure some talent.''

“I'm very excited,'' said Santos, who adds that he's an avid Dolphins fan. “Foremost, it was the people here who attracted me in Dale Tallon and Bill Torrey. I like the way they plan to be here, it's similar to the way we did things in Nashville. Dale had a similar plan in Chicago. I believe in that plan and think it's going to be success.

“This hasn't been a place where stability has been a strong suit. I'm looking forward to getting [the Panthers] on the right track and keeping it on the right track.''

Here's more on Santos from the Panthers press release:

“Mike brings to our team more than 20 years of hockey experience after working in a variety of capacities in the National Hockey League, the American Hockey League and the North American Hockey League,” said Tallon.

Santos “He has done an incredible job in helping to assemble a competitive Nashville club that has qualified for the playoffs in three of the last four seasons. He is very knowledgeable in the CBA, contract negotiations, salary cap compliance, budget forecasting and minor league operations. We welcome Mike back to the Panthers and look forward to his continued contributions to the organization.”

Prior to working in Nashville, Santos served as the Florida Panthers Director of Hockey Operations/Corporate Counsel for the 2002-03 season, after joining the organization during the 2001-02 season as a hockey operations consultant.

He was named commissioner and president of the North American Hockey League in 2003 and led the Junior “A” league through three seasons of unprecedented growth. The Lowell, Massachusetts native has also spent time working in the NHL’s New York office, as well as for the New Haven Nighthawks (AHL) and the NY Islanders.

A graduate of Boston College, he received his Master’s Degree from the United States Sports Academy in 1989, earned his Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law in 1998, has been a member of the New York state bar since 1999 and serves on USA Hockey’s Congress, as well as its junior and legal councils.    


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Nice, any word on the goalie situation in ROchester. They have a lot of goalies slated: Chevrie, Salak, Markstrom, Plante.

Damn good question, Kittens. I'd be interested to hear what they're plans are, as well.

Bad news: No moves at all by The Panthers

Good News: Lombardi still hasn't signed with anyone, Afinogenov is still a possibility, players like Arron Asham and Scott Walker are players that would bring some toughness and grit to the line up, and D-men like Brett Lebda or our old friend Nick Boynton..even though I don't think he and DeBoer parted ways on the best of terms..would be good "depth" pick ups.

I'm going to go sing the chorus of the song "Always look on the bright side of life".

Maybe Santos can score 20 goals this upcoming season? While I'm glad Tallon didn't do anything foolish with Cliff and Stu's money, he needs to something worthwhile before all decent offensive free agents are gone (e.g., Lee Stempiank, Alex Frolov, Matt Lombardi, Alexi Ponikarovsky).

You can't put this time on ice as it sits.. U have to replace horrons goals and then some ...

No Ponikarovsky thank you. A big welcome to Mike Santos, looks like he he already got a head start on his Florida tan.

good bye Mr. Birch, you haven't developed a single player since you have been here and are near the top as to why this team needs to be treated like an expansion team.

Now maybe we can start developing players.

Mike's a helluva guy and will help Dale make the right calls.

As far as signings, the market is freaking insane - players who I would have considered 800K max are pulling in 2 and 3 million per year. Me thinks the GM's in this league haven't figured out the Salary Cap concept.

...patience people...if tallon had gone out and spent stupid money on someone the first day everyone would be knocking him saying he's back to the mistakes of the past in chicago...at least the man is being prudent...PATIENCE

Jack Birch was director of player suckiness....

Although the spelling is horrible, adamgraves is spot on. This team cannot expect to compete, especially in a very deep East, with the team as is. Tallon's got to decide whether to make some trades to upgrade this roster. It would really make sense to trade Vokoun & sign a stop gap goalie (there are plenty) for 1 year until Markstrom is ready.

Anybody that thinks the Panthers will compete next year is setting the bar too high. That's simply not the goal for management right now.

When Dale Tallon took over for the Blackhawks in 2005, they finished with 65 point (26-43-13). That's probably where the Panthers will finish next year, and that's ok for now. The Hawks went from 65 points to 71, to 88, to 104, and to 112 last year.

If the Panthers finish with that trajectory, I'd be overjoyed.

Real_ESPNLeBrun Higgins not signed yet in Florida but he's agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6 million. Paperwork still being finalized

Higgins is a good signing for the money.He plays with an edge.Would love to get back Domnic Moore if the price is right and maybe Seidenberg as a backup D-man

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