Former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was on the golf course on Friday when news of his alleged use of racist language broke.
Tallon spoke to FloridaHockeyNow.com on Friday afternoon and said he is not a racist and never used the language of what he is apparently being accused of.
“I am not racist by any means,” Tallon said. “I have never said anything of the sort. I am all for peace, am all for this alliance and what everyone is trying to do right now.”
On Friday morning, it was learned the NHL has an active investigation going into alleged racial comments made by Tallon while the Panthers were in the Toronto secure zone.
Although the NHL has confirmed there is an investigation, it will not comment further.
The Panthers, who officially parted ways with Tallon on Aug. 10, have also declined comment on the alleged incident.
Various reports say the NHL is looking into numerous allegations into Tallon’s past use of racially-charged language.
Tallon, who was not retained after 10 years with the Panthers, said he has not spoken with anyone from the NHL and broke off his interview with FHN because “I need to talk to my wife and my kids.”
According to Tallon, he believes the incident in question stems around the emotional speech Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba gave on racial inequalities on Aug. 1.
Dumba, who is Filipino-Canadian, joined the Blackhawks and Oilers before their NHL playoff qualifier and knelt for the playing of the U.S. and Canadian anthems at center ice.
Afterward, he spoke on systemic racism.
“Racism is everywhere, and we need to fight against it,” Dumba said.
“Hockey is a great game, but it could be a whole lot greater. And it starts with all of us.”
Here is Matt Dumba's speech. pic.twitter.com/r2ykHizcv9
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) August 1, 2020
Tallon said if anything racial was said by him: “I don’t recall it. I don’t remember it. I don’t ever use the word. They said I said something after Dumba’s speech and I don’t remember even seeing Dumba’s speech.
“I didn’t know Dumba was Black; I have only ever seen him as a hockey player. I did not know he was of color. That’s all I can say. I need to find out what is going on.”
The Dumba speech came before Game 1 of the Oilers-Blackhawks series which started about an hour before the Panthers were scheduled to take on the Islanders in Toronto.
That means Tallon would have likely already been at Scotiabank Arena, perhaps in the team’s private suite.
Tallon did continue, saying any accusation against him is “not who I am.”
“This is not me,” Tallon said. “I don’t understand this, I don’t ever do these kinds of things. I don’t know what happened. I am kind of puzzled by all of this.”
In Toronto, Tallon’s interaction with players and coaches — he says — was limited.
The only time he went into the coaches’ room in Toronto was after Florida’s Game 3 win against the Islanders.
“I am,” Tallon ended, “not sure what this is all about right now.”