Florida Panthers alternate governor Bill Torrey has gotten a lot of press lately for stepping into an especially charged situation: that of a part-part-time team official (call it retired) thrust into a circumstance for which he long ago gave up stressing over: de-facto general manager of a club with its highest expectations in a decade, with the league Entry Draft only weeks away and the beginning of free agency immediately thereafter.
Other than that, it's status quo at One Panther Parkway.
We've written previously of Torrey being an inspired choice, given his years of service and one of the few remaining "original" Panthers employees from the first days of the franchise. Not to mention: he was a really slick GM back in the day.
This being a job no single person can hope to tackle alone, Florida's assistant (to whom?) GM Randy Sexton has been actively carrying on the role of managerial everyman for the club, assuring fans and players alike that the office light has not been dimmed.
Alexandre Daigle references aside (and he was the concensus number one prospect at the time, not to mention his Senators overlords demanded his signing), Sexton has assumed the position of de-facto general manager, at a time when the Cats positively cannot do without.
Since his hiring in early 2007 he has learned (helped create?) the system, knows the prospects, and is considered one of the league's better "contract guys". In an NHL whose teams live and die on the collective bargaining agreement, this is an extremely vital yet unsexy skill.
Even without the long-term backing (so far) of his present employer, Sexton's jumped in and made the job his own.
"We’re exploring opportunities to upgrade the team either through free agency or trades. I started the process a couple days ago by talking to all the GM’s around the league, finding out what they’re looking to do and who they might move and what they might want in return to try and get a sense of what’s available and what it might take to do a deal."
Perhaps you're concerned at the lack of news surrounding re-signing David Booth and getting him off the RFA master target list?
"His agent and I have had good conversations. They’ve been very positive. There’s no animosity on either side of the table. We’ve been crystal clear. We really like David and we really want him to be part of our future. And they’ve been equally positive, saying he loves it here and really wants to be a Panther for a long time. Now we just have to work through the process of getting a deal that both sides find mutually respectable."
What about Florida's prospects at the development camp held last week?
"It was the best group we’ve ever had up there. That was my observation, but I must have had that comment from six or seven coaches, players and staff, too. So that was encouraging."
Is he the right guy to permanently take the job as full-time GM? This can't be an easy decision for the folks above him, from Alan Cohen to Michael Yormark to Torrey, the man who's leading the search for Sexton's new boss, while Randy himself runs the draft and free agency period.