It has been three weeks now since the Florida Panthers officially began their search for a new general manager.
On Aug. 10, the team announced it was parting ways with Dale Tallon who, for the most part, was the team’s GM for a decade.
The Panthers have been very busy in their search and may have a new general manager within the week.
On Sunday, hockey insider Elliott Friedman of Sportsnet offered some additional information on who, exactly, the Panthers have been talking to.
A number of experienced candidates have interviewed with team president Matt Caldwell and Michael Viola.
Those include former NHL GMs Mike Gillis (Vancouver), Peter Chiarelli (Boston, Edmonton) and Ron Hextall (Philadelphia).
The list also includes some who would be relative newcomers to a front office in television analysts Eddie Olczyk (NBC) and Kevin Weekes (NHL Network, Hockey Night In Canada).
On Saturday, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury pulled himself out of consideration.
Friedman reports he has sources that Drury may have been offered the job — or, was offered it and turned it down.
Drury is one of about a dozen who are currently working in a team’s front office or on a scouting staff.
Some, like original 1993 draft pick Weekes, have past links to the Panthers.
Others, like Olczyk, have ties to coach Joel Quenneville who is said to be part of the Panthers team which will make the final decision.
Olczyk, who coached the Penguins during the early years of Sidney Crosby, worked as a broadcaster in Chicago when Quenneville was coach of the Blackhawks.
He is also tight with owner Vinnie Viola based on their shared passion for horse racing.
Those who have ties to the Panthers include:
— Weekes, an NHL goalie for 11 seasons who was part of Florida’s first-ever NHL draft in 1993 (fourth round), played in Florida during the 1997-98 season.
Weekes has been a television commentator since retiring from playing and knows the game inside and out.
Weekes is also a close personal friend of Roberto Luongo and was one of Luongo’s invited guests for his March 7 jersey retirement ceremony.
Luongo remains in the team’s front office as an advisor to the now-vacant GM.
— Scott Mellanby was an original member of the Panthers and started one of the team’s few traditions after killing a wayward rat in the Miami Arena locker room before the 1995-96 home opener.
“I had no idea that night it would turn into what it did,” Mellanby said at the Panthers’ 20th anniversary of the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals run in 2016.
“It’s amazing and cool that people still embrace it. It’s great to be part of this history and is something I’ll never forget.”
Mellanby, Florida’s second captain, has been working for the Canadiens the past eight years where he is now the assistant GM.
Mellanby knows Quenneville well as one of Mellanby’s great late-career seasons came while under Q in St. Louis.
— Former Panthers goalie Sean Burke (1998-2000) is currently a scout and goaltending consultant for the Canadiens.
The former Team Canada GM has also been an assistant GM with the Coyotes.
Other candidates who have surfaced for the Panthers job include a couple with a Stanley Cup on their resume.
— Chiarelli was the architect of the Boston Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup championship team and may have an ally within the Florida front office in former player Shawn Thornton.
Fired by both the Bruins and Oilers (last January), Chiarelli is currently serving as a consultant to the St. Louis Blues.
— Bill Armstrong is the assistant GM of the Blues and is also their director of amatuer scouting.
Armstrong helped build the Blues through the draft and we saw where that got them last summer when they lifted the Cup for the first time.
— Mike Futa, the former assistant GM of the Kings, helped build up the Los Angeles roster as the team’s co-director of amateur scouting. Futa was part of two Stanley Cup winning front offices in L.A.
Others who are said to have interviewed for the job include Toronto assistant GM Laurence Gilman, Washington AGM Ross Mahoney, former Toronto GM John Ferguson Jr., and Canadian junior GM Mark Hunter.
Although not listed by Friedman, former Islanders GM Garth Snow was loosely linked to the Panthers last year around the time Quenneville was hired.
Snow does have some contact within the ownership group although there has been no confirmation whether the team has contacted him or not.
Those reports that Snow was to join the Panthers’ front office in some capacity last April were quickly refuted by the team.