I have been thinking of this for a few seasons now, and as I sit writing I will say this until it happens. The Florida Panthers need to win a Stanley Cup for Bill Torrey. Thought this was going to be about Stephen Weiss? Sorry, Torrey has eight more years invested than Weiss does with the team. Bill Torrey came to the Panthers in 1992, weeks after being forced to resign from the New York Islanders, where he held the General Manager position from the very beginning when the team came into the league as an expansion team in 1972. In his time in New York Torrey built a dynasty that would go on to win four consecutive Stanley Cups in the 1980’2. Torrey Built the Islanders from the ground up, through the draft rather than trading for veteran players for a “win now” method, sound familiar? Torrey drafted and eventually traded for numerous future hall of famers, including former Panthers TV commentator Denis Potvin. Torrey drafted Potvin first overall in 1973 and soon after was offered a substantial package from the Montreal Canadiens of veteran players that would immediately improve the Islanders, Torrey turned it down and stuck to his plan. Potvin would emerge as one of the leagues best defenseman and eventually was inducted into the hockey hall of fame, also having his number retired next to Torrey’s name in the Islanders rafters. Florida also retired a number in Torrey’s honor (93) for his time and effort devoted to making the team what they are today.
Going even further back Torrey was in charge of building a franchise in California, when the Golden Seals came into the league in the 1960s. Torrey turned the franchise around, from a laughingstock to a playoff contender in just a short time. Torrey eventually left the team after disagreements with the flamboyant owner Charlie Finley, who constantly would interfere with team operations, and had wild marketing ideas, sound familiar? Wait, maybe I shouldn’t go there.
When Torrey came to Florida the ink had barely dried on his final check from Long Island. Wayne Huizenga, the teams original owner had just been awarded a franchise in Florida and was looking for experienced help in building a winner. Torrey thought it over and took the job, becoming the teams first President, building a staff which would piece together a team that would eventually reach the Stanley Cup Finals in just it’s third year of existence. While he may not have been directly responsible for player acquisitions, he was the man in charge when it came to finding the staff to make the trades and coach them. Torrey eventually took the reigns of GM on December 31,2000 when Bryan Murray was fired, he held the position for roughly a year, and was the GM when Stephen Weiss was selected by Florida in 2001. When Florida was looking for a General Manager most recently, Torrey was put in charge of finding the right man, narrowing applications down until the man was found, Dale Tallon. The years Florida has been in the NHL Draft Lottery, Torrey has been the team representative to witness. There’s no denying he’s one of the most respected men in the league, and in the sport overall, and he deserves to drink from the cup at least one last time.