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As Panthers get ready to host Blackhawks, Dale Tallon tries to put past with Chicago behind him

Mar 7, 2011, 11:02 PM EDT

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Dale Tallon AP

While he wasn’t the acting Chicago Blackhawks general manager when the team won their first Stanley Cup in almost 40 years, Dale Tallon still made most of the personnel moves that allowed the team to power its way to the top of the NHL.

While he places his stamp on a troubled organization as the new general manager of the Florida Panthers, Tallon must put those Hawks roots behind him. Even if there might be some instances in which that past seeps through (example: trading with the Blackhawks to acquire Jack Skille).

His new team will host his old team Tuesday, as the fading Panthers will play against the red-hot Blackhawks. It should be an emotional evening for some – particularly former Panthers winger Michael Frolik, who wasn’t expecting to be traded to Chicago – but Tallon at least claims that he’s moved on.

On Sunday night, while watching his Panthers lose to Washington, Tallon said he has completely divorced himself from the Blackhawks organization in a career that spanned four decades. While he says he still watches Chicago games on television, he does so no more than other teams in the league.

“I’ve cut the cord, had closure and have moved on,” Tallon said. “I wish them nothing but the best, wish them success. I’m focused on the Panthers and that’s all I care about. It will be interesting and different, but there’s nothing there for me know. I have to keep the faith and keep working here. It was a great 33-year run there, but the day I drank out of the Cup, that was it for me.”

From a short-term standpoint, not much as changed under Tallon. After all, the Panthers are still a scrappy and unremarkable team who will likely fall short of a playoff spot but also fail to get a great draft pick.But that ignores the long-term view. Tallon is building a big team (exemplified by his decision to draft hulking defenseman Erik Gudbranson instead of Cam Fowler with the third pick) and is stockpiling prospects. Naturally, it might take time to land a Patrick Kane or a Jonathan Toews – a lot of that comes down to landing the right pick a the right time – but there’s more reason to believe in the Panthers’ future now than in the last 10 years.

Hopefully he won’t get fired (or, ahem, “resign”) before these prospects can grow this time around.

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