Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Dale-tallon-general
By Bill Whitehead

Those who have ridden down the elevator with the press and Florida team executives after a game know this: You can generally tell whether or not the Cats won by general manager Dale Tallon's demeanor. No sports executive is as easy to read as Tallon -- irritable in defeat, cheery and observational in victory. Simply, Tallon wears his heart on his sleeve.

This past offseason, he put other body parts on the line, too, which is why he is the most deserving nominee for General Manger of the Year.

Adding 15 different players to last year's vestige of a hockey team was a bold move by the former Chicago GM. While the organization was making a crimson-themed renaissance with marketing morsels like "Believe Red" and "REDvolution," the 61-year-old Tallon was seeing blue -- his blueprint for changing the culture of losing hockey in South Florida.

First, he fired coach Pete DeBoer the morning after the season ended and grabbed Kevin Dineen from the AHL ranks. Then in a real no-brainer he drafted scoring sensation Jonathan Huberdeau. He followed up those solid moves by convincing ex-Blackhawks Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky to come to Sunrise, along with ditching Rostislav Olesz's dreadful contract, kept the ball rolling.

Kris Versteeg went from Chicago to Toronto to Philadelphia to Florida in a calendar year while Tomas Fleischmann was a medical risk. Yet the pair teamed with Stephen Weiss to form the league's best top line for the season's first third. Tallon had faith in Jose Theodore, dubbed "Three or More" by the critics, who regained his old form and was stellar from the opening game, a 2-0 shutout at the Islanders. Sean Bergenheim, who was deemed overrated by some media, scored a career-high 17 goals in just 62 games. John Madden, Mikael Samuelsson, Marco Sturm, Wojtek Wolski and Jared Smithson all proved to be good additions as the Panthers made their playoff push.

Just as important were the deals Tallon didn't make. When the names Alex Semin, Mike Cammalleri and Rick Nash came up at different points of the season, Tallon stood pat. Instead of dealing away vital parts of the team's future for short-term success, he decided not to be a major mover.

Not every move worked to perfection, but Tallon sent a clear message: He had a plan in place that he wasn't going to deviate from, and anyone who didn't pull his weight (see fan favorite David Booth) was expendable.

"We've come a long ways but still have a ways to go," Tallon assessed in his exit interview. "We're probably a little ahead of schedule. We got the playoffs and won our division. The blueprint's still in place, but we've had a modicum of success. We have a lot of positives moving forward. We've come a long way in a short period of time."

Florida was 22 points better in the standings than last year and topped the Southeast Division for nearly 130 days despite being picked 14th or 15th in the Eastern Conference by most media. Then it earned its first playoff spot in 12 years the Thursday before the season ended. The club finally won the division for the first time in franchise history two days later. The Cats then forced New Jersey to win Games 6 and 7 in overtime to squeak out a quarterfinal Stanley Cup playoffs series win, the last contest being played in front of a raucous crowd at BankAtlantic Center. And in seven weeks at Pittsburgh's Consul Energy Center, Florida will have seats toward the back of the draft rather than down front with the rest of those selecting early.

Those are Exhibits A, B, C, D and E in the case for Dale Tallon being GM of the Year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

13 amazing NFL stats from Week 16

JJ Watt's bloody face defines 2014 campaign

Dominic Raiola insists he didn't intentionally stomp opponent

Jets call themselves the best 3-12 team in NFL history

Cam Newton calls out 'classless' Panthers fans

Report: 49ers to part ways with Harbaugh after season finale

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brad Stevens shoots down rumors he's headed to Hoosiers

Jameis Winston cleared in code of conduct case

Sherman: Patrick Peterson would be benched on Seahawks

Fans struck by lightning after Buccaneers-Packers game

Report: Philip Rivers playing through painful back injury

Report: Bears could have interest in Jim Harbaugh

NFL flexes Bengals-Steelers into 'Sunday Night Football' slot

Miami Dolphins electing to keep Joe Philbin a smart decision

Coughlin tells Beckham Jr to tone down TD celebrations

WATCH: Lynch ‘thanks the media for asking’ questions

10 takeaways from NFL Week 16

Tony Romo leads Dallas Cowboys to NFC East title

Ole Miss QB arrested after fighting, threatening bouncers

WATCH: Marshawn Lynch's ridiculous TD run

WATCH: Steelers' Gay draws flag for taunting teammate

WATCH: Three players ejected after Giants-Rams fight

WATCH: Dominic Raiola stomps on Bears player's ankle

WATCH: Arian Foster throws TD pass, drops scoreboard taunt

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

13 amazing NFL stats from Week 16

JJ Watt's bloody face defines 2014 campaign

Jets claim to be best 3-12 team ever

10 takeaways from NFL Week 16

Cam Newton calls out 'classless' Panthers fans

Raiola stomps on Bears player's ankle

Bears interested in Jim Harbaugh?

Shanahan to return to 2015?

Browns interested in drafting Mariota?

Mullen wears funny Christmas sweater

RG3 returning to Redskins?

Tom Izzo hot after bad loss

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.