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DALE TALLON SPEAKS OUT: Firing Kevin Dineen Was Tough but Needed

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DALE TALLON

"After 16 games it was clear we needed a change in our message and philosophy. This was a joint decision not made easily between ownership and hockey ops. It's my responsibility to get our team to play to its maximum potential.

"Vinnie Viola demands excellence at every level within the organization. He's committed to winning and putting a winning product on the ice for our fans.

"Our better players need to start playing better or we'll get better players.

"Kevin, Gord and Craig worked very hard. But for some reason the message was not getting through. I thank them for their hard work and professionalism. They displayed that on a daily basis.

"We're all responsible for this record. This marks the first change to start turning this franchise around and become a winning organization.

-- When was decision made?

"I've been stewing on it for a long time. It's never easy. We don't make rash decisions; make decisions for the future of our franchise based where we're at currently. With many discussions with our ownership group and our hockey ops, we came to the decision and decided this was the best course of action.

"[Thursday] was one straw of many. We're 3-9-4 and that's unacceptable.

-- When did you tell Kevin & Co.

"This morning. First thing this morning.

"He was unhappy and I don't blame him. He's a fiery guy and a fiery competitor and an emotional coach and I don't blame him for being upset. I didn't expect anything less from him. He's a class guy, hard working guy.

"It's one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make.

-- Will Kevin be retained to work with the team in a different role?

"This was an emotional morning but he'll have the time to sit back and see. He's been offered the opportunity to stay with our organization.

-- This isn't just coaching

"This is the first of many changes that we're making. It's the old saying: It's easier to fire the coach than 23 players. We're on the phone constantly and we'll make changes as we go. We want people who want to be with the Panthers. If they don't want to be, we'll accommodate them.

"Right now I'm dissatisfied with the effort from most of the guys. We need to be better.

-- Have you tried to make trades?

"I've tried extremely hard every day. There have been numerous phone calls with numerous teams. Hopefully something will hit in the near future.

-- About the new coaches

"Peter Horachek was hired to coach our affiliate in San Antonio after a successful run with Nashville. Peter has had success at every level he's coached at. He's going to come in and hopefully turn this thing around. Peter is free to hire another assistant if he wants.

"This is just the beginning of the changes that we need to make. If the players don't respond to this, well, they won't be Panthers for very long.

-- Peter's term

"He's an interim coach. Obviously if he does well, he'll stay. We'll evaluate after the season. We need to get back into the hunt here. I'm not giving up by any means here. We need to do anything we can to get back in the playoff hunt without jeopardizing our future.

-- Was Kevin's job in jeopardy all season?

"[Horachek] was brought in to help our young players and bring success to our farm team.

-- No one thinks of you as a playoff team; why you doing this?

"We always go to training camp trying to make the playoffs. People can evaluate your team from afar, but we still have high hopes.

-- Did you address the team?

"I will at 11:30.

-- Leadership on the Panthers

"We'll address that today at 11:30.

-- Will you change captains?

"No. Jovo will be back in a week-10 days and we miss him. We miss that leadership. That's what he brings to us. That's why we made the playoffs two years ago. We miss him. Hopefully he gets back sooner than later so he can help some of our young guys become leaders as well.

-- Not just wins and losses but environment?

"That's a big part of it. We want them in a winning environment and have them led by players with strong leadership ability and work ethic. I'm not seeing that right now from our so-called better players.

-- Horachek's reaction

"He's excited to get the opportunity. His lifelong goal has been to be a head coach in the NHL. He's coached everywhere. He had success in Nashville. He's a no nonsense guy. He's a good communicator. We'll give him every opportunity to show his wares.

-- Was he told of this last night?

"Yes."

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