The National Hockey League is investigating a claim former Florida Panthers general manager and president of hockey operations Dale Tallon used a racial slur while representing the team, FloridaHockeyNow.com has learned.
The NHL, when reached, said it would not comment on the incident nor the investigation.
The league did confirm it is actively looking into the matter.
The Panthers have also said they are not commenting on the charges.
Tallon did not respond to repeated text messages on Friday; his cellphone is going directly to voicemail.
According to a source, Tallon is being accused of using racially-charged language at some point during the team’s time in the Toronto postseason bubble.
The Panthers were part of the league’s expanded postseason and traveled to Toronto where they were dispatched in four games by the New York Islanders.
What, exactly Tallon is alleged to have said, is not known nor is the setting of where it was supposedly said.
Tallon has been known to use salty language during the course of a game, but is not known for anything of this sort.
Tallon, whose contract with the team expired July 1, was not retained by the Panthers and his parting with the team became official a few days after Florida’s 5-1 season-ending loss to the Islanders.
His departure as the team’s president of hockey operations had nothing to do with this alleged incident according to a source within the team.
The alleged incident was only recently bought to the attention of the league and then relayed to the Panthers during the NHL’s investigation.
“For the last decade, Dale raised the team’s profile, attracted key players to South Florida and brought character and class to our franchise,” owner Vinnie Viola wrote in a statement upon Tallon’s official dismissal on Aug. 10.
The Panthers are currently interviewing for their vacant general manager position with team president Matt Caldwell and John Viola doing a lot of the long-distance interviews.
Florida Is believed to have interviewed more than a dozen for the job.
The accusation Tallon used some sort of racially insensitive language while in Toronto representing the Panthers comes at a time of heightened sensitivity toward such matters.
On Thursday, the NHL and its players’ association announced it was postponing two days worth of the playoffs in protest of social injustices.
Games scheduled for Thursday and Friday were pushed back with both the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs expected to continue in Toronto and Edmonton on Saturday.
The NHL is the latest pro sports league to halt play this week, joining the NBA and WNBA as well as a number of MLB and MLS teams.
On Wednesday, NBA players in Lake Buena Vista walked off the court to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
Although the NBA and WNBA called off all its games that night following the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to play, some MLB teams continued that night — and the NHL’s postseason games went on as scheduled.
Thursday’s game between the Miami Marlins and New York Mets was postponed following players leaving the field after both teams lined up at Citi Field and held a 42-second moment of silence which commemorated the No. 42 worn by Jackie Robinson.
Tallon, 69, spent a decade with the Panthers after being hired by the team in 2010.
Under his watch, the team made the postseason three times — they ended a record 12-year playoff drought in Tallon’s second season at the helm — but did not win a playoff series.
Before coming to Florida, Tallon spent three decades with the Chicago Blackhawks following the end of his playing career.
After spending 16 years as a television and radio broadcaster with the team, he was elevated to the front office where he eventually became the team’s general manager in 2003.
Tallon built the Blackhawks into an eventual champion although he was not with the team when they won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years in 2010 as he had been relegated to a “senior advisor’’ role and left for the Panthers.
Tallon’s name is engraved on the Stanley Cup next to coach Joel Quenneville, however, and the team awarded him a championship ring.
Quenneville joined Tallon in Florida last April and recently completed his first season as coach of the Panthers.
STORY UPDATED AT 2:10 PM
According to a story posted Friday afternoon by TMZ.com, a “source with knowledge of the investigation tells us the league is looking into multiple alleged incidents.“
TMZ went on to report the NHL investigation “goes beyond the most recent alleged incident — there are accusations he’s used offensive language in years past.“
STORY UPDATED AT 2:55 PM
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan that the league was indeed investigating an incident regarding Tallon — but would “only confirm that the alleged comment did involve race.“
STORY UPDATED AT 3:15 PM
John Warrow of the Associated Press reports the league’s investigation started “more than a week ago and is looking into multiple instances of Tallon making racially insensitive comments.”
The AP said it got its information from “a person with direct knowledge of the situation“ who “told The AP on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.”
This story will be updated throughout the day.