Panthers’ Dale Tallon a rare player’s general manager
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org June 20, 2012 10:46PM
As the Panthers’ general manager, Dale Tallon helped the team improve 22 points this past season and win its first division title. He gleaned much from his playing days with the Blackhawks. | Getty Images
Updated: July 23, 2012 7:38AM
LAS VEGAS — Everyone knows Dale Tallon, the general manager of the Florida Panthers and the main architect of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup-winning team, has an eye for talent.
It’s easy to point to all the moves Tallon made in helping the Panthers improve 22 points and win their first division title this past season, just like it was when he recovered from mistakes to turn the Hawks around.
Tallon also is a confident and aggressive tradesman and pursuer of free agents. But there is so much more to Tallon, who was “reassigned” with the Hawks under peculiar circumstances in 2009, that makes him good at what he does.
The former defenseman is unique in a way. Just ask defenseman Brian Campbell, who has played for Tallon with the Panthers and Hawks.
“Dale is almost a player’s general manager,” Campbell told the Sun-Times. “I don’t think you hear that a whole lot.”
In other words, players seem to love playing for him.
Tallon didn’t win the third annual General Manager of the Year award Wednesday, but he’s just getting going in Florida. Tallon has been in charge of the Panthers for only two seasons. His success comes at a time when Hawks GM Stan Bowman has come under fire. Tallon finished second to Doug Armstrong, who was voted the winner by the NHL’s 30 GMs and a panel of executives and media, for the St. Louis Blues’ surprising rise in the Western Conference.
“[Tallon] did more for our team than a lot of people know,” Campbell said. “Everybody thinks about what he did with the players he brought in. But I go back to the internal stuff. He probably gave three speeches during the season when things weren’t going so well to get us going. It was always positive with him and always a belief in us.
“I don’t think many GMs do that. I haven’t seen it. He knows when to push the right buttons and when he needs to let his coaches coach and when he needs to come in from up top and say a few things.”
Tallon does things other GMs don’t. With the Hawks, that sometimes meant telling his players to be accountable to the media.
“They know I’m a player’s manager,” Tallon said. “I have great ability to discuss a lot of things with them. I treat them as equals. I really respect their input. All our staff and all our players really all have something to say. If it helps get us better and gets us to what we want to do in winning the Stanley Cup, then the players will like me.
“But they know I’m not afraid to pull the trigger when I have to, and they know I’m not afraid to tell them the truth. When things aren’t going well, I’ll be very forceful and honest with them. That’s all they can ask for, and that’s all I had asked for as a player. I try to look back at the way it was when I was a player and what I would expect, and that’s how I try to operate my business.”