Friday, December 27, 2013


Panthers on a Roll

Last Thursday, the Florida Panthers continued their road trip to Ottawa. They entered the nation’s capital on a bit of a roll, with six wins in their last ten games.


They have a couple of key players missing from the lineup at this time, and that is bound to make a difference. Tim Thomas has played well in the net for the Panthers, but he was on the shelf, as was Ed Jovanovski. They are both seasoned veterans who can steady a young team through turbulent times.


Executive Vice President and General Manager Dale Tallon was at the rink in Ottawa overseeing his players. Tallon hails from Noranda, Quebec, and is no stranger to the chills of winter. I suggested to him that it was a bit cooler here than in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s minus forty in Noranda today!” he told me.


Tallon was the second overall draft pick by the Vancouver Canucks in 1970. A guy named Gilbert Perreault was chosen ahead of Tallon, by the Sabres. Tallon’s career was marked with serious injuries, and three years after signing with the Canucks, he moved on to the Black Hawks.


He remained with the Hawks until he retired in 1980, when he moved to the broadcast booth. He entered the managerial world of hockey shortly thereafter, and directed the Hawks to their first Stanley Cup in many years, the first since the days of Bobby Hull and Stan Makita.


A couple of years ago, he joined the staff in Florida, and has been attempting to assemble a winning lineup since his arrival. There are times when he feels the frustration. He replaced Coach Kevin Dineen a little more than a month ago with his minor league coach from the San Antonio Rampage of the American league, Peter Horachek.


At the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, former Belleville Bull Shawn Matthias picked up his fifth assist of the year on their first goal. There are years when things do not come easy for players, and this has been a bit of a tough one for Matthias. When we spoke after the game, he was pleased with the win. “It would be nice to bury a few more in the net, but the win is great.” He notched his fourth goal of the season the following night in Winnipeg. He spends considerable time killing penalties for the Cats, most effectively.


With less than five minutes remaining in the third period, the Senators Jean-Gabriel Pageau clipped rookie Dylan Olsen with a high stick. On the ensuing power play, Tomas Fleischmann fed a perfect pass to defenceman Tom Gilbert. Gilbert buried the puck past a well-screened Craig Anderson to put the Panthers ahead. Kopecky’s short-handed marker sealed the deal for the Cats.


Despite their poor start to the season, the Panthers have moved up to within one point of the Senators. It has been a frustrating time lately for the crew from Ottawa, with few bounces going their way. The breaks of the game.


If you happen to find Dale Tallon in the clubhouse looking for a game of golf, please be advised that it would be unwise to play for money. He won the Canadian Junior Golf title in 1969, and he knows his way around the links. Considering that he lives far south of the Mason-Dixon Line, he likely has time for a round or two during the winter as well.



A very Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukuh, and a Happy New Year. I will see you at the Dudley Hewitt Cup. Get out your bills for the 50/50. Mr Baitley and I will look after you.

                                                                   Robert Baitley

James Hurst



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