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Bill Zito Signs New Contract with the Florida Panthers

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Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito speaks during a news conference on June 21 in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

FORT LAUDERDALE — Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito is used to signing players to contract extensions.

Monday, he signed one of his own.

Zito, 59, signed a multi-year deal with the Panthers on Monday meaning he will remain with the franchise he has transformed for the foreseeable future.

It is believed Zito signed a five-year contract when he joined the Panthers in 2020.

This is his fourth season, already making Zito the third-longest tenured GM in franchise history.

Zito, the 11th GM of the Panthers, trails only Dale Tallon (whom he succeed) and Bryan Murray as the longest serving managers in franchise history.

The Panthers also announced that Zito will now be team president of hockey operations.

From his first day as a Panther, Bill has demonstrated his complete commitment to success both on and off the ice,’’ owner Vinnie Viola said in a statement.

“He has worked steadfastly and tirelessly to establish a new standard of excellence for our franchise. The future has never looked brighter in South Florida and we are thrilled that Bill will continue to lead the way.” 

When Zito took over for Tallon before the Covid-shortened 2021 season, the Panthers had just been knocked out of the Toronto bubble — the team’s first trip to the postseason in four years.

Under Zito, the Panthers have made the playoffs four straight years including this one.

Florida is expected to open the playoffs Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Last year, the Panthers went to the Stanley Cup Final for just the second time. Their current five-year postseason run is longest in franchise history.

Zito started re-tooling the Panthers days into the job, making his first trade a big one as Florida acquired Patric Hornqvist from Pittsburgh in exchange for Mike Matheson and Colton Sceviour.

There would be plenty more moves to come.

Since Zito took over in 2020, there are only four NHL players remaining: Sasha Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, Sergei Bobrovsky and Eetu Luostarinen.

Players such as Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaeghe, and Gus Forsling were all acquired under Zito’s watch.

Zito was also recently named an assistant general manager for Team USA. He will join Chris Drury and Tom Fitzgerald under GM Bill Guerin putting together the teams for the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off and the 2026 Milan Olympics.

They will support Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin, who was named U.S. GM for the two tournaments on Feb. 8.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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