The Panthers announced on Monday that they’ve named Dale Tallon the team’s General Manager and have relieved Tom Rowe as the interim head coach.
The moves comes less than 24 hours after the Panthers ended the 24th season in franchise history with a 2-0 victory over the Washington Capitals.
Dale Tallon was previously serving as the Panthers’ President of Hockey Operations, a role he was – as the team put it – promoted to on May 16, 2016.
“We’re turning the page on a disappointing season,” said Tallon on Monday afternoon at a press conference to make the changes official. “From today, we’re moving forward with a singular voice under my leadership in hockey operations. We’re going to have one agenda and one agenda only and that is winning.”
Throughout last off-season and all the way into this past regular season, there appeared to be confusion around the hockey community as to who was serving as the team’s main voice.
“We made some mistakes because I think we had too many voices,” said Tallon.
A report emerged in mid-December that Dale Tallon was being given more power over day-to-day decisions, but the Panthers’ owner Vincent Viola and CEO Matt Caldwell came out quickly to deny the fact that Tallon’s role had changed.
Tom Rowe took over as head coach after Gerard Gallant was fired at the conclusion of their 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on November 27th. Before the coaching change, Rowe was the Panthers’ General Manager, which was said to be below the role of Tallon.
Gallant posted a 11-10-1 record at the time of his firing despite injuries to Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Jussi Jokinen, although it was later revealed by multiple outlets that there were ‘philosophical differences’ brewing.
The 60-year old Rowe had been serving as the Panthers’ general manager at the time and went on to guide the Panthers to a 24-26-10 record in the remaining 60 games of the season.
Rowe will remain with the organization with the title of “Special Advisor to Panthers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Dale Tallon.”
Steve Werier and Eric Joyce, who were appointed as the Panthers’ assistant general managers in May, will keep their roles.
It’s been said that he’ll have a voice in trades and will work to recruit college free-agents while keeping an eye on the organization’s prospects.
Associate coach Dave Barr and assistant coach Scott Allen were not retained by the organization, although it does not rule out the possibility that they could be brought in again by a new head coach. Goaltending coach Robb Tallas will remain with the team.
The Panthers set a franchise record by sweeping a 5-game road trip in mid-February, putting them in a position to push for a playoff spot with a little over a quarter of the season remaining.
However, went on to lose 17 of the final 24 games to finish 23rd in the league and with 22 fewer points than last season’s 103-point total. They missed the post-season for the 17th time in their history while owning the NHL’s 7th-worst power play at 17.0% and 2nd-best penalty kill.
“Well I think we added a lot of new players,” said Tallon when asked what he thought went wrong this season. “We changed the style of play a little bit, then we had few injuries to key personnel with our young core, and those are the things.”
“Some of our guys that signed big contracts tried to carry the burden of those contracts and probably tried to do too much.”
Rowe took most of the blame from fans on social media and in person at many home games. He was even the subject of a banner plane which flew around the Panthers’ arena on April 3rd reading, “Rowe must go! Call him a cab!”
A new head coach has yet to be named by the Panthers, although early rumors have their AHL coach, Geordie Kinnear, and the University of Denver’s Jim Montgomery as early candidates for the job.
“We’re looking for a creative guy, a contemporary guy that is a good communicator, a good teacher,” said Tallon. “We’re looking for a contemporary guy that can handle the younger player today and that can understand that they still have to be coached and mentored and taught and yet still have that passion to win.”
The next coach will be the 15th in the Panthers’ 24-year history and 5th in the last 3 years.