Broward News

The Futility of Using the Blackhawks "Blueprint" With the Florida Panthers

Last week, former Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon was hired for the same position by our humble Florida Panthers. Tallon's stock is high, if only because the Hawks team he assembled is now on its way to the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, having completed a sweep Sunday of the San Jose Sharks.

Tallon has declared his intention to use the Blackhawks "blueprint" to turn around hockey's most woebegone franchises.

But in Chicago, Tallon had a cold-weather city full of natives who had a sentimental attachment to the team and its rich hockey history. He comes to a warm-weather city full of transplants who have no sentimental reason to root for the Panthers, in part because the team has virtually no history.

It's like the difference between doing CPR on someone who's been submerged for one minute (the Hawks) versus trying it on someone who's been submerged for one week (the Panthers).

The lack of local enthusiasm for the Panthers deprives the team of a home ice advantage. It also makes it harder to lure the game's best free agents -- or to keep the young stars who develop here (like Jay Bouwmeester), who bolt when their contracts come up for renewal.

The Panthers have the third pick in next month's NHL Draft, the same spot at which Tallon's Hawks plucked Jonathan Toews in 2006. Of course, Toews was one of the best players in this year's Olympics and is the runaway favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league's best playoff performer.

It'll be mighty hard for Tallon to find a player of Toews' caliber at the same spot in this year's draft. Just as he'll need a lot of luck to land the top pick in next year's draft, as the Hawks did, picking Toews' linemate, All-Star winger Patrick Kane.

But let's say that for Tallon, lightning does strike twice. In a couple of years, he's built a South Florida sports franchise that has dynamic young talent that makes it a title contender every year. In that case, the Florida Panthers would look like... well... the Florida Marlins, currently posting the fourth-worst attendance figures in baseball.

Sorry, Dale. But you don't have a snowball's chance in Sunrise of making hockey a hit in South Florida.

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Thomas Francis