SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Dale Tallon's cell phone was no doubt flooded with text messages Monday after the announcement that he was the new GM in Florida. Several of those texts came from Blackhawks players, who viewed him as more than just their former GM.
"I dropped him a text, and I'll probably call him when he's a little less busy," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said Monday. "He did a lot of great things for our organization, and we obviously all have good connections with him in our locker room, so we're all happy to see him get another chance somewhere else and we know he'll do a great job there as well."
What was obvious Monday is the deep, personal affection many of these Chicago players have for Tallon, who was removed as GM last summer and replaced with Stan Bowman. The firing angered a lot of hockey people around the NHL given Tallon's work in rebuilding the Hawks into Cup contenders.
"Good for Dale. It's nice to see him back in the league and I know he's going to do a good job with that organization," said Patrick Sharp, one of Tallon's best acquisitions, stealing him from Philadelphia. "I owe a lot to Dale for bringing me back here to Chicago. A lot of the guys in here can probably say that. I wish him all the best and we'll see what he can do."
Toews, drafted by Tallon in 2006, was asked if the former GM got enough credit for the work he did in Chicago.
"Maybe not," said Toews. "That's why when I talk to him, I always remind him that we're here thinking about him and we don't forget the contributions he's made to this team and this locker room. Knowing he'd love to be here, and unfortunately it doesn't always work out that way, but I think it's always a good thing for him to be reminded that the boys haven't forgotten about him."
Blackhawks players talked Monday about what a great guy Tallon was, a person they had bonded with.
"He texted us after the Vancouver series, congratulating a few of us," said defenseman Brian Campbell. "He's a people person. I texted him this morning, saying good luck to him and all the best, because he definitely deserves an opportunity. He was great for the city of Chicago and the Blackhawks, and now he brings that to Florida. ... He was very important to a lot of players in this locker room."
Toews described Tallon was a "personable guy."
"He was in the locker room quite a bit, and just an easy guy to get along with," said the captain. "It's tough. You know sometimes things happen, things change, and you don't want to see something like that happen to a great guy like Dale. But he's dealt with it like a professional, and he's a great person, and we all know he's going to do a great job in Florida."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville also expressed his happiness for Tallon.
"Congratulations to him, well deserved," said Quenneville. "He's done a tremendous job here. He built a special team. I feel fortunate to be a part of it. I appreciate Dale; he hired me as a coach. Got a lot of his pieces in place here."
Sharp still hears from Tallon even though the former GM made himself scarce this season as senior consultant, staying out of the way of the new management team.
"After big games or tough losses, I usually get a text from him. I know a couple of other guys correspond that way with him, as well," said Sharp. "He was a good friend to a lot of guys in here, not only our general manager."