NHL Panthers Ready To Raise Payroll At Deadline, Spend To Salary Cap
New NHL Panthers Owner Vinnie Viola on Friday gave Exec VP & GM of Hockey Operations Dale Tallon "carte blanche to spend the maximum amount allowed within the mandated salary cap to acquire elite free agents," according to Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Tallon said, "This team's been bleeding money for a long time, but I've been told we're going to be a cap team and want to try to break even. They want to invest money into the team." Fialkov noted the Panthers have about $4M of cap space to "spend under this year's salary cap maximum" of $64.3M. The team has approximately $17.3M of "expiring contracts on their roster with the cap projected to go up" to $71.1M next season. For years, the "financially-strapped Panthers have been sellers at the trade deadline, but no more." Tallon will "look to strengthen the team" beginning on the March 5 deadline, but he is "really focused" on the start of free agency July 1. Tallon: "We want to win. We're going to the top. We're going to spend. We're moving forward. We've been given the opportunity by Vinnie to spend the money wisely and God bless Vinnie, they're willing to put maximum amount of money into the team so we can win" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/11). Tallon said, "We're going to be a cap team and that's pretty exciting. We've always scouted players and that hasn't changed. But now we have the freedom to go out and get them" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 1/11).
ON THE PROWL: In Ft. Lauderdale, Michael Mayo wrote of the Panthers' proposal to restructure their contract with Broward County under the header, "Panthers Come Knocking For More Public Money." The Panthers are "making a play at a money pile that's been bigger than anticipated." Panthers President Michael Yormark said that the team's "current financial path is 'unsustainable,'" with losses of $20M a year. Mayo: "Considering the team has reaped 99.7 percent of the arena's profits in its original lopsided deal with the county, I'd say that's a pretty stunning indictment of hockey's economics and this team's management." The Panthers "haven't exactly lit up this town with success or excitement." They are "kidding themselves if they think people will readily go for this" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/12).