Much-hyped "new eras" seem to be a somewhat semi-annual occurrence for the Florida Panthers, as owners, managers, and coaches tend to have a rather collectively short shelf life in Sunrise.
Is today just the latest in a long line of hires we'll be lamenting in 18 months? That is of course yet to be seen, though evidence exists to suggest an air of stability may have finally arrived.
General manager Dale Tallon has long maintained his club will build through draft choices and strategically-selected free agent acquisitions. He's certainly made good on the former, as the organization begins to fully embrace the talent working its way up from the NCAA, Juniors, and minor pro leagues. We'll know far more about the latter in weeks to come.
But what of the revolving door of coaches since Tallon's arrival? Peter DeBoer (a Jacques Martin hire), Kevin Dineen, and Peter Horachek (an obvious mid-year placeholder, despite his best efforts) have all graced the Panthers' bench since 2011, generally to a theme of consistent failure. It can be argued the rosters they inherited were not of their own making, and that's a valid point, though it doesn't excuse the final result.
Gerard Gallant takes the helm as Florida embarks on a summer season which includes a first-overall selection in Friday's NHL Entry Draft followed closely by a free agency period in which his club is rumored ready to spend upwards of $30M. That's an attractive situation.
How does it differ from 2011, when Dineen was brought in, where a third-overall pick was nothing to sneeze at, nor was the prospect of the Cats willing to spend big to bring in a gaggle of free agents? Two reasons: (previous) ownership had to print money in order to reach the salary cap floor, and there was zilch in the prospect cupboard. Both of those points have been rectified.
Gallant no doubt has a mighty challenge before him, but the tools may be settling into place for success.
Anyway, here we are. FS Florida offers televised coverage while the official team site will stream it online, both at 11; LBC's own Francisco Oporta will be tweeting from the BB&T as well, so do give him a follow (@FJOJR) for updates from within the room. Enjoy the festivities!