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CHANGE AT TOP: Mike Santos To Leave Florida Panthers

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Panthers front office was shook up a little Tuesday as assistant general manager Mike Santos was told he wouldn't be returning next season.

General manager Dale Tallon said before Florida's 3-2 shootout win over the visiting Senators that Santos, his assistant GM since 2010, would not have his contract renewed and was free to find employment elsewhere.

Santos has been general manager of Florida's AHL affiliate in San Antonio and was instrumental in the team's handling of contracts and bringing in a number of free agents.

"I thought about it long and hard,'' Tallon said. "I feel we need to go in a different direction, I need a different set of eyes, another opinion, different ideas. It was a tough decision, have gone back-and-forth the past couple months.''

With Tallon scouting last week, Santos traveled with the Panthers on their West Coast road trip.

Tallon, who lives next door to Santos off Fort Lauderdale beach, informed him of the news on Tuesday morning.

Tallon said the move was made now -- Santos is signed with the Panthers through June 30 -- so he could potentially find work elsewhere before the NHL draft.

"He can have conversations now with other teams about future employment,'' Tallon said.

Mike Dixon and Eric Joyce from hockey operations will take on more responsibility as will Tallon.

"We'll have an extensive search but haven't even looked at candidates,'' Tallon said.

Travis Viola, son of team owner Vinnie, was named a Vice President of hockey operations prior to the start of the season which made it look like Santos' future with the team in jeopardy.

Tallon said Santos' future with the Panthers is not tied to that of interim coach Peter Horachek.

Horachek and Santos worked together with the Nashville Predators before Santos hired him to coach San Antonio over the summer.

Horachek, who took over the Panthers in November, is expected to seek a three-year deal from the Panthers once the season is complete although Tallon and Florida's management team could go a different direction there as well.

Tallon said a decision on Horachek's future could come as late as May after he, Vinnie Viola and new CEO Rory Babich analyze the franchise.



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I would like to see the Panthers hire Ralph Krueger as the coach

This team is last in penalty killing and in the power play; they don't make adjustments, they appear to be playing a zone instead of clearing out the slot; so many times including last night you see a panther in a spot where there is no opponent and a couple of feet away is the opponent with an easy look at goal. Except for Hayes, we don't have any one that is willing to stand in front of the goal.

Krueger is known as a great teacher and at this point in year 4 of the Tallon years (I am willing to wait and see how he does with more resources) it is time for the young players to step up a level.

House cleaning is needed and this is step two (Yormark was step one) hopefully we will change the scouting department as well as our draft history is very poor at best.

I agree, time for Scott Luce to go after 12 years fining nothing worth while in the high draft picks. If you can't find a diamond in the ruff after 12 years you need to find another job. Also, I've seen enough of Ed Slovonoski. I only want to see his jersey in the Den of Honor and not on the ice after ths year.

Will like to see Horacheck stay and some stability in in the coaching department. He was giving a losing deck of cards, a 3-9 record to start with and low morale players. He didn't hesitate to give top spots immediately to Barkov and Bjugstad. Upshal and Bergenheim came to life from down under, Guds became a much better player, so did Olsen and Hayes in front of the goalie was a strike of genius, not to speak about developing Vinnie Throchek and Howden (weak last year). Players like to work with him, but was replaced to late. He sweats more than any previous Florida coach behind the bench, so why not signing him ?

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