On Monday, the Florida Panthers announced that Dale Tallon will no longer be with the team after serving as its general manager for 10 seasons and that the search for a new GM is on.
Tallon's contract was set to expire after this season. The agreement for him to leave the organization was a mutual decision according to the Panthers.
Florida, who hasn't won a playoff series since 1996, was eliminated by the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Friday, dropping the best-of-5 series 3-1.
Under Tallon, the Panthers won their first two division titles since entering the NHL in 1993. In 2016, the club recorded a team-record 103-point season and finished first place in the Atlantic Division.
After missing the playoffs the previous three years ahead of 2020's 24-team postseason tournament, Tallon hired Joel Quenneville, who he won a Stanley Cup with when both were members of the Blackhawks organization in 2010, to replace Bob Boughner as head coach of the Panthers on April 8, 2019. Tallon later signed two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven-year, $70 million contract on July 1, 2019.
Dale was with the Blackhawks organization for 33 years as a player, broadcaster and executive. He was an assistant GM with the Hawks from 2003-05, GM from 2005-09, and senior adviser of hockey operations in 2009-10.
Tallon hired Quenneville as head coach of the Blackhawks on October 16, 2008. Impact Hawks players Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were drafted during Tallon's Chicago GM tenure.
Dale was the first player ever drafted by the Vancouver Canucks. The defenseman was selected at No. 2 overall in the 1970 NHL Draft.
He had 336 points (98 goals, 238 assists) in 642 games across 10 seasons with Vancouver, Chicago and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Tallon played in two NHL All-Star games (1971 and 1972).
The key to beating the Edmonton Oilers was simple: stay out of the penalty box and contain Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid at even strength. The execution part of it was challenging, but the Blackhawks were up to the task and eliminated the Oilers in four games to advance to the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The key to beating the Vegas Golden Knights isn’t so simple. And neither is executing a plan to do so.
The Golden Knights have always been a dominant possession team, ever since they entered the league in 2017-18. But this might be their most well-rounded group yet, which is saying something considering they reached the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence.
The Golden Knights ranked No. 1 this season in a variety of offensive categories at even strength, according to Sportlogiq and Natural Stat Trick:
- Shot attempts from the slot (25.4)
- Shots on goal from the slot (15.1)
- Expected goals for per 60 minutes (2.81)
- Scoring chances for per 60 minutes (31.1)
- High-danger chances for per 60 minutes (12.7)
The Golden Knights are as good as it gets when it comes to generating chances. That's a problem for the Blackhawks, who ranked 31st in the five defensive categories at even strength listed above:
- Shot attempts from the slot against (25.7)
- Shots on goal from the slot against (15.2)
- Expected goals against per 60 minutes (2.84)
- Scoring chances against per 60 minutes (30.1)
- High-danger chances against per 60 minutes (13.0)
Unlike the Edmonton series, it will be extremely difficult for the Blackhawks to win the 5-on-5 battle. Which means the only way to beat the Golden Knights in a best-of-seven series is to capitalize on the few mistakes they make — all four lines must be clicking — and win the special teams battle.
The Golden Knights finished the regular season ranked No. 9 in power play percentage (22.0) and, most notably, No. 27 in penalty kill percentage (76.6). The Blackhawks were tied for No. 8 in penalty kill percentage (82.1) and 28th in power play percentage (15.2) but showed progress in the latter department by going 4-for-18 (22.2 percent) in four qualifying-round games.
When the Blackhawks get their power-play opportunities, they must take advantage of them. If they don't, it could be a quick series. If they do, and Corey Crawford is at his best, the Blackhawks have a fighter's chance against a Golden Knights team that's 8-1-0 and has a plus-15 goal differential all-time against Chicago.