suntimes
ANNOYING 
Weather Updates

Dale Tallon looks to duplicate Blackhawks success with Panthers

tonight

Blackhawksat panthers

The facts: 6:30, CSN, 720-AM.

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Believe it or not, Dale Tallon hasn’t golfed too much since he and his family moved to Florida after he ­became general manager of the Panthers.

“I haven’t, but I’m going to start, though,” said a smiling Tallon, a distinguished golfer and former Blackhawks general manager, at the BankAtlantic Center. “I’ve snuck a few, [but] I’ve maybe played three rounds of golf.

“We’ve been too busy. I’ve got a lot of work to do. When we get this team to where it needs to be, then I’ll start playing.”

His objective, of course, is to ­rebuild the Panthers, a bottom-dweller in the Eastern Conference.

Tallon might not be in a traditional hockey market like Chicago, but he was in a similar situation with the Hawks when he built them into a Stanley Cup winner. It wasn’t too long ago that the Hawks were playing in a half-empty — or worse — United Center.

“We’ll use a similar plan to what we did in Chicago,” said Tallon, who sold his home in Lake Forest but still owns a condo in the city. “We’ve just got to keep adding to the puzzle.”

Tallon plans to build his team by being active in free agency — “We’ve got flexibility, and we’re ­going to be really aggressive,” he said — and through the draft. Don’t be surprised, either, if he makes a few shrewd trades.

His track record speaks for itself.

Tallon will be remembered as the architect of the Hawks’ Cup-winning team. As general manager, he drafted Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, traded for Patrick Sharp, Andrew Ladd and Kris Versteeg and signed Antti Niemi. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Tallon, who spent years in the Hawks’ front office.

Tallon took the fall for the qualifying-offer contract snafu that ultimately led to Stan Bowman becoming the Hawks’ GM. Some also blame him for paying too much for defenseman Brian Campbell — although Chicago wasn’t quite the destination it is now back in the summer of 2008. Also, going into Monday, Campbell was tied for the league lead in plus-minus at plus-27.

In May, Tallon will celebrate his one-year anniversary as the Panthers’ GM — a position he accepted when the Hawks were in the Western Conference finals against the San Jose Sharks last year, leaving his advising role with the Hawks.

Was he surprised the Hawks struggled earlier this year?

“I don’t think it was a [Stanley Cup] hangover,” Tallon said. “I think it has a lot to do with change, losing some quality people that were a big part of it and then having to adjust, improvise and bring in new faces.

“It takes time. A team is a team. It’s hard to reorganize quickly. Now you can see that they’re starting to adjust to each other, understand each other and play well. It was just a matter of adding new faces to a lineup that was really a tight lineup.”

Tallon stays in contact with some of the Hawks, but he said he has moved on. He wasn’t invited to join the team Friday in Washington when they meet President Obama. He’s quite happy in Florida.

“We text each other and give each other shots,” Tallon said. “It’s a fun group. It’s a good group of guys, but you’ve got to cut the cord.

“Once I drank out of the Cup, that was closure, and I moved on.

‘‘Everything is great here. We’re really working hard, and we’ve got a good staff. Everybody is on the same page and headed in the same direction.”



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.