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NEW MANAGEMENT: Rory Babich, Dale Tallon Meet the Media

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Here is the Panthers' official release on their new management team with Michael Yormark leaving the team for a gig with Roc Nation. My conversation with Michael comes up next.

Below the italicized press release is the transcript from Rory and Dale's teleconference with the South Florida media on Monday night.



SUNRISE, FLA - The Florida Panthers and its parent company Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, LLC announced today that Rory A. Babich has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer and President. Michael R. Yormark, the former CEO and President, announced today that he is resigning to accept an offer to join Roc Nation. In his capacity as CEO and President, Mr. Babich will be responsible for all business and hockey operations, where he will partner with Dale M. Tallon, currently the Executive Vice President and General Manager, who will also have his responsibilities expanded to include business operations. Both Mr. Babich and Mr. Tallon have also been named as Alternative Governors to the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors.


Panthers owner Vincent Viola said, “We appreciate Michael's many years of hard work and service to the organization and wish Michael much continued success in his new role. While we are sorry to see Michael leave, he has received an offer for a tremendous opportunity and we are fortunate that we will be able to continue working with him in his new role. Rory has been working with us throughout our acquisition of the team and has been partnering with Michael on the business side and Dale on the hockey side since he joined us. Rory and Dale have developed an extremely close working relationship and we look forward to having them continue our mission to develop a team that makes Sunrise, Broward County and South Florida proud on and off the ice and continues to attract sports-loving tourists from all over the world to Broward County. We will continue to focus on bringing the Stanley Cup to Broward County and South Florida while also offering the best entertainment and biggest names at BB&T Center in Sunrise."


Panthers co-owner Douglas Cifu said, “I have known Rory for nearly 25 years. He is an experienced senior business executive with an incredible knowledge of sports in general and hockey in particular. Together with Dale Tallon, who led the effort to build the foundation of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks and is building a similar model here with our young guns, the two of them will pool their talents as we advance on our journey to bring the Stanley Cup to South Florida."


Growing up in the sports world with a father who was a college baseball coach and doubled as a sportswriter, Babich, who was born in NY, NY, has been working with the owners of the Panthers since they started exploring buying the team last summer. Before launching his consulting business, Babich was a senior executive responsible for running the day-to-day business of a division of Fortress Investment Group, a financial services company listed on the NYSE. Babich also has over 20 years of experience as a leading international corporate attorney. Babich said, “I am very excited about this opportunity to help take the team and the organization to the next level as we build a successful hockey team while also strengthening our bonds with our many supporters throughout Sunrise, Broward County and South Florida and having hockey-loving fans from Europe who vacation in South Florida adopt our team as their team. I could not ask to work with a better partner than Dale, and we are very optimistic about the future.”


Tallon, originally from Noranda, Canada, has been an Executive Vice President and the General Manager of the Panthers since May 2010. After helping build the Chicago Blackhawks into a Stanley Cup winner, Tallon is now in the process of working with Babich to replicate that success through careful drafting and development of young players with additional players added through trades and free agency. During his tenure, Tallon has led the Panthers to their first Southeast Division title during the 2011-2012 season and was selected as a finalist for the National Hockey League’s 2011-2012 Executive of the Year. Tallon said, “In the time we have been working together, Rory has become a trusted partner on the hockey side for me and I look forward to working with Rory on all parts of our business. Vinnie has given us the authority to become a cap team and we look forward to adding the right pieces and building the team the right way to ensure long-term success.”


We're very optimistic about the future here. Dale and I have been working together for a number of months and have built up a very close working relationship. Dale and I, together, will be partnering on all aspects of our business. Hockey, business and entertainment as we work on growing the business in Sunrise, Broward County and South Florida.


I've been involved in different sports throughout the years in the New York/New Jersey area. In terms of baseball, basketball, hockey -- there have been different roles over the years. Hockey is a sport I have loved ever since I've been a child. I was a longtime New York Rangers fan, have been a season ticket holder for over 20 years. I've followed the sport very closely. Since joining the Panthers, I've been working with Dale working on our strategy moving forward.


As everyone is aware, Vinnie and Doug purchased this team in September. Really, the vision of this franchise comes right from the top. We've been working closely with Dale since the new owners came in. Me stepping in as CEO doesn't change the vision of the owners or their commitment to build a successful franchise down here, make ourselves a cap team and continue the disciplined mind that Dale has instituted.


On Broward County: Obviously the owners have been part of this process and I'll be stepping in. Doug has met with the commissioners and will continue to interact with them as I get involved. As we look at the situation, I think it's always important to remember, when Vinnie and Doug bought the team and took the approach on going to the county commissioners with their request to help build a stable long-term franchise here, committing their own money as well as asking for additional support from the county to help support these initiatives, everything is meant to be supportive as we deal with the county and local residents. Having a strong hockey franchise here in a county-owned arena that brings in all of the top acts really does benefit the city of Sunrise, Broward County, right from the beaches to the Everglades and all of South Florida. We're looking to be cooperative and continue discussions with the commissioners. Any time something goes before the county in the States, there's always healthy debate. That's part of being in a democracy. We recognize that and welcome healthy debate around the issues and continuing the discussion.


We're incredibly optimistic. When Vinnie and Doug bought the team -- and we've seen this in other areas where franchise have been moved or various commitments made before owners purchased -- Vinnie and Doug bought the team with the belief it can be very successful in South Florida.

Dale and I certainly share that vision. That's why we're both here today.

We really do believe in building a successful franchise both on and off the ice, attracting the top talent and building that supportive fan base. People ask if hockey can really make a go of it in South Florida in a non-traditional market. The reality is South Florida is an incredible sports market. People like exciting sports. The team will be improving and building the bonds with the community. We're looking at a lot of community outreach either youth hockey or other areas where the Viola family and the Panthers can support the community. On all fronts, success on and off the ice, we believe the sky is the limit here.




I think this is an exciting time for us. Rory and I have been together since December and have developed a close relationship in a short amount of time. We have the same philosophy. We're partners in this and we're excited about what we're going to do and how we're going to do it. We're going to work together as a team to bring a Stanley Cup to the Florida Panthers and their fans.


On Bill Torrey: He'll have the same role he's had since I've been here; that's right there beside us at all time. He's involved in all decisions. I rely on him heavily because of his great knowledge and experience. He's a champion. Nothing is changed as far as that concerned.


Trade deadline: I think it's a different thing. We're building for the future obviously, but that's a whole different process. This is another stepping stone. First we look at the deadline to see what suits the franchise as far as the future is concerned. Then we'll focus on the draft and after that, free agency. We'll be aggressive in all those areas. Every move we make in the next day-and-a-half will be with regard for what's best in regard for this franchise in winning Stanley Cups.


Brad Boyes: We're still in negotiations. We've made an offer, had discussions today with his agent. We're hopeful we can get something done.


On meeting Rory: I wasn't apprehensive. We've been on the same page since the first day we met. I like Rory's personality and his approach to things. We're very similar in a lot of ways. We agree to disagree on some things, but we're very civil. We've developed a good relationship in a short amount of time. We're going to be partners in all these initiatives on and off the ice. I'm excited about it. I think it's going to be great.


Dale booking concerts?: Why not. A little bit of country, little bit of rock and roll. A little bit of this, a little bit of that.