The Pittsburgh Penguins are free and clear to hire former Florida Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon. The rumored move, which has been reported in multiple places as possible, would no longer face additional scrutiny based on alleged racial slurs.
The National Hockey League announced on Thursday that the anonymous report it received that Dale Tallon made inappropriate racial, religious, and ethnic comments while serving as General Manager of the Florida Panthers has been fully investigated and was not substantiated.
The anonymous report alleged that Tallon, then-General Manager of the Panthers, had used racially derogatory language while the team was in the Toronto Secure Zone during the first week of August and had in the past made openly racial, religious, and ethnic comments.
Earlier this week, a league source with ties to the Pittsburgh Penguins told Pittsburgh Hockey Now that Tallon to the Penguins was a possibility.
“I believe (Rutherford) is going to hire Tallon,” the source said, which was first published by PHN on Wednesday.
Other media outlets have gone further with their report. However, PHN has not been able to get clear confirmation from a direct source. For now, the potential Pittsburgh Penguins – Tallon hiring remains a rumor.
The NHL press release also stated, “The allegations were neither corroborated nor substantiated, and are inconsistent with Tallon’s past actions and his affirmative efforts in support of diversity and inclusion initiatives. As a result, based on the investigation, the NHL has further concluded that there has been no established violation of NHL policy or protocols.”
Tallon, 70, has a distinguished track record of assembling talent but not a great record as GM. He was demoted from GM to Senior Advisor by the Chicago Blackhawks in the summer of 2009 during a power struggle with team president John McDonough.
Former Chicago forward Martin Havlat quickly lambasted the organization.
“Every single player on that team is with Dale. I still talk to the guys all the time. Hockey players know a phony when they see one,” Havlat declared. “McDonough couldn’t stand that Dale was so successful and getting the credit for building the Blackhawks) from a last-place team to making the Conference Finals in 3 short years.”
The flashpoint, which led to Tallon’s demotion, was missing the deadline to qualify the team’s restricted free agents. While Chicago re-signed them, it cost millions more than if the QO’s were issued before the deadline.
During the Chicago Blackhawks 2010 playoff run, which culminated in a Stanley Cup, Tallon was hired as the Florida Panthers GM. His team-building efforts resulted in Chicago awarding him a Stanley Cup ring, in absentia. Chicago delivered the ring to Tallon, who had already been hired by the Florida Panthers.
As the Florida GM from 2010-2020, the team has suffered playoff droughts and has not advanced past the first round. The organization has made just three post-season appearances, including a Qualifying Round appearance, despite being outside the regular season playoff seedings in 2020.
Tallon was relieved of his duties after Florida failed in the Qualifying Round. However, the team had ample homegrown talent, including Evgenii Dadonov, Aaron Eklbald, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Aleksander Barkov.
Florida Hockey Now was the first to report the alleged incident, which was said to have occurred after Matt Dumba delivered an address before an NHL postseason game in the Toronto bubble. FHN also had an exclusive denial from Tallon.
Tallon said if he said anything racial while watching the Dumba speech (likely from the Panthers’ private box at Scotiabank Arena), he did not “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,” Tallon said to FHN.
Tallon added: “I am not racist by any means. I have never said anything of the sort. I am all for peace, am for all this alliance, and what everyone is trying to do right now.”