Tallon to 'put mark' on Panthers as GM

Updated: May 17, 2010, 11:18 PM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The man who rebuilt the Chicago Blackhawks into a powerhouse, Dale Tallon, has been hired as the general manager of the Florida Panthers.

"It is with great pleasure and excitement that I join the Florida Panthers," Tallon said. "I would like to thank managing partners Cliff Viner and Stu Siegel, alternate governor Bill Torrey and president/COO Michael Yormark for giving me the opportunity to put my mark on this franchise. I look forward to getting to work and will immediately evaluate our club's framework, as we diligently prepare for the upcoming draft and free agency signing period."

Tallon, 59, was a senior advisor with the Blackhawks after being replaced as GM there last summer by Stan Bowman. He was part of the Hawks' front office for more than a decade. He also played for three NHL teams from 1970-80.

"I'm excited and elated, and I can't wait to get to work," Tallon said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "It's bittersweet; 33 years with a great organization, and now I'm going to go and build something special in Florida, so I'm excited."

Tallon replaces Randy Sexton, whose contract was expiring at the end of June. Sexton was reached by ESPN.com but declined comment.

"On behalf of the entire organization, we are thrilled and honored to open a new chapter in Florida Panthers franchise history with the hiring of Dale Tallon as general manager," Viner and Siegel said in a statement. "Dale brings with him a proven track record and an impressive franchise-building resume that we believe is the perfect fit for the future of the Panthers organization."

Under Tallon, the Hawks rebuilt themselves into Cup contenders, drafting Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, among others, and acquiring the likes of Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, John Madden and Brian Campbell.

The Blackhawks took a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals with a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

"It's a whole organizational win," Tallon said of the Hawks' success. "Everybody has worked hard to put this together, and I'm excited for everyone. It's a great organization. I hope they win it all.

"They're such a great team, and I love them all. They're great kids. Not only great players, but I love them off the ice. They're like family to me."

Tallon has quite a challenge awaiting him in Florida. The Panthers, who finished last in the Southeast Division this year, haven't appeared in a playoff game since the 1999-00 season. They also haven't won a playoff series since 1996 or a playoff game since 1997.

"On behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks organization, I'd like to congratulate Dale Tallon on his new position with the Florida Panthers," Hawks president John McDonough said in a statement. "I'm very happy Dale has this opportunity and we wish him well.

"Additionally, I'd like to thank him for the significant role he played in the development and success of our hockey operations."

Sexton, who was officially named Florida's GM in Oct. 2009, oversaw the team's contract negotiations, scouting, administration and player development after Jacques Martin left the franchise in June to coach the Montreal Canadiens.

"We thank Randy Sexton for his service to our organization and appreciate his continued support throughout this transition process," Viner and Siegel said.

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.