Dale Tallon has a message for his newest centreman: You gotta wear shoes.
Jiri Hudler, whose funny shoe-less moment on stage at last year’s NHL Awards endeared himself to many, has become known in Calgary for being one of the NHL’s great character guys — and that’s just what the Florida Panthers‘ general manager has been looking for.
“I think he’s very excited. He’s got a great personality, and I like that,” Tallon told Hockey Nation on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “That’ll bring some life into our locker room. We have a good locker room, we have a really good group.
“He’ll fit in nicely … He’s got spunk, as I like to say, and he’s a good player, too. He makes players around him better.”
Hudler, 32, joins the Panthers in a deal that sends a 2016 second-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick back to Calgary, and brings with him a decade of experience.
As for the footwear, “I told him he had to wear his shoes this time when he came to Florida,” joked Tallon.
“We have a few spots up front, and we felt that, to give us a balanced attack, they would give us three really good scoring lines,” Tallon said of his two new forwards. “Now, when we’ve got [Jonathan] Huberdeau back, we’ll have three really good scoring lines and a really good fourth line with some energy and aggressive play. It makes our team deeper.
“They’re going to give us that extra opportunity to get the composure that they bring with all their experience and their abilities. “
It’s a change of pace for the GM, going from selling at the trade deadline to buying.
“I went through that in Chicago, too. People didn’t want to come because of the perception that it wasn’t a winning team or a winning attitude. That’s changed here,” said Tallon, who said he’s had plenty of encouragement from team owner Vincent Viola.
“It’s nice to be buyer.”
So, after a busy day on the market, is he done now?
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “You never know.”