SUNRISE–On a day when teams were parting ways with long-time employees, the Florida Panthers announced Dale Tallon is taking resuming his duties as general manager of the team, some 14 turbulent months after he was curiously pushed aside for the now deposed Tom Rowe.
The news came a day after the Panthers posted their second straight shutout victory, this won a win over President’s Trophy winner Washington, who were unable to beat Panthers goalie James Reimer with any of their 38 shots as Florida claimed a 2-0 victory.
Rather than management by committee, the mish mash of novices on duty since last summer will report to Tallon, who will report to ownership. Rowe, a whipping boy of fans and symbol of fans anger for the team that went from Atlantic division winner under former coach Gerald Galllant and finished in sixth place and 14 points out of the playoffs this season, has been given the nebulous title of special adviser.
Tallon will have a busy month. First, negotiations are expected to start with first line right wing Jaromir Jagr. The future hall of famer plays well with Jonathon Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov and the trio forms a dominant line but injuries limited their time together this year. Huberdeau missed the first 51 games of the season recovering from an achilles injury, while Barkov missed 21 games this season, including the final six of the campaign. Jagr played all 82 games for the second time in the last four seasons and has only missed eight total games over the last five campaigns. Jagr has played through some pains that have slowed him down.
Jagr had 46 points this season to finish fourth on the Panthers and the chart below breaks down his season and the Panthers won loss record in 10-game segments. For the most part Jagr averaged five points for each 10–game segment, except for the 10-game segment, except for when he was approaching and surpassing Mark Messier to become’s the NHL’s second all-time leading scorer. His point production didn’t parallel the Panthers won-loss record. The second chart does the same comparison for the 2015-16 season when the Panthers won the division and Jagr was the team leader in scoring with 66 points in 79 games played.
It’s kind of an interesting situation. Should Tallon negotiate with Jagr first? sign or pass on him? If he signs him, then find a coach that will work with him? Or work out the deal, then hire the coach and delay the signing to ensure that both the coach and Jagr can meet and make sure the coach and Jagr an coexist. In the past Jagr has wanted and his production as a top four point producer on the team has warranted top two line producer presence and it would be hard to imagine why he’d alter that stance. Jagr is said to be delaying is trip back to the Czech Republic this year, which suggests this scenario may be at play to see if something works out with Florida in the coming weeks, or if he’ll have to go home for a while and return prior to the July 1 free agency period.
No matter what happens next, during the last week of the season Jagr made it clear he enjoys playing with Florida, and on the day before the end of the season he told teammate Alex Petrovic within earshot of Miami Herald reporter George Richards that he’s coming coming back. Things beyond his control could complicate that, but the player whose long career has seen some of his most noteworthy milestones happen at the BB&T Center, would certainly be happy to see a few more of them happen there next season. Jagrometer.com hopes so for the sake of Jagr, Panthers fans and the hundreds of Jagr fans from the Czech fans who plan trips to South Florida from the Czech Republic to see their national hero play as part of their winter holiday.
List of possible coaches getting longer
The menu with the Florida Panthers next coach was approaching 20 before the end of season terminations and that was the outside observers handicapping. Who knows who is on the list Tallon is compiling.
Experienced coaches Lindy Ruff of the Dallas Stars and Darryl Sutter of the Los Angeles Kings have already been fired but Tallon has usually hired younger coaches as a means of relating to younger players. Ruff has a reputation of dealing with younger, offensive players while Sutter, who won two Stanley Cups with the Kings, favors a more defensive style. Jagr prefers a more offensive style but understands the need for a team to have a structure of some substance to which he can adapt his game.
Game 82: Highlights, stats from Panthers win over Capitals from nhl.com
Final Jagr-O-Meter of the 2016-17:
This will be republished throughout the summer (or corrected) but with the Panthers season complete, Jagr’s numbers remain frozen in time until the start of the 2017-18 season.
Jagr-O-Meter will continue to publish throughout the summer with important Jagr news and an occasional feature. Subscribe or follow editor Ray Haluska on twitter (@CruisingRay) as we wait to see where…..THE LEGEND CONTINUES!