The Florida Panthers roster is not the only thing getting a shakeup these days.
Rory Babich has been promoted to CEO and president to replace Michael Yormark, the team announced Monday. Babich will be responsible for the Panthers’ business and hockey operations.
"[Dale Tallon] and I been working together for a number of months, have built up a very close rapport, working relationship," Babich said. "Dale and I together will be partnering on all aspects of our business, hockey business and entertainment side as well."
Tallon, currently serving as the team’s executive vice president and general manager will see his role expanded to include business operations.
Yormark, who had been with the franchise for 10 years, resigned to take a position with Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s sports and entertainment management firm.
Babich worked with co-owners Vincent Viola and Doug Cifu to acquire the franchise in September 2013, and stepped into a more active role that December to work with Yormark and Tallon.
"The vision for this franchise comes right from the top," Babich said. "My stepping in as CEO doesn’t change the vision of the owners and their commitment to help build a successful franchise down here, make ourselves a cap team and continue along the disciplined lines that Dale has instituted."
Babich’s father, Larry, served as a highly-respected college baseball coach in New Jersey as well as a sportswriter for the Jersey Journal. Rory Babich said lessons learned from watching his father are sure to translate into his new role with Florida.
"I’ve been around college and professional sports my entire life, whether as a fan, in the locker room, sitting with my father as a coach and getting a feeling on how to build a team, what goes into building a team, a culture of a sports franchise," Babich said. "Although my father coached college baseball, a lot of the aspects that go into building a team, creating the right culture and having everyone get in on the right side carries over from one sport to the next."
It’s that kind of mentality that has Tallon excited about his new role and partner in building the Panthers.
"From the first day that we’ve met, we’ve been on the same page about everything," Tallon said. "I like Rory’s personality and his approach to things. We’re similar in a lot of way. We agree to disagree, but we’re very civil and we’ve developed a close relationship in a short period of times and we’re going to be partners in all these initiatives, on and off the ice. I’m excited about it."
Babich said the team is focused on initiatives that not only make the Panthers successful on the ice, but also in the community.
"People ask, can hockey really make a go of it in South Florida, a non-traditional market. The reality is, South Florida is an incredible sports market and people like exciting sports. The team will be improving."
In addition to their new roles, Babich and Tallon have also taken on the roles of Alternate Governors to the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors.
Even with the promotions, Bill Torrey will retain his role as an Alternate Governor of the team.
"[Torrey will have] the same role he’s had since I’ve been there — right there beside us at all times," Tallon said. "He’s been involved in every decision. I rely on him heavily because of his knowledge and experience. He’s a champion."
Prior to joining Florida, Babich served as a senior executive for Fortress Investment Group, a financial services company. He also brings 20 years of experience as an international corporate attorney.
"Hockey is a sport I’ve loved ever since I was a child," Babich said. "Growing up in the New York area, I was a long-time Rangers fan. I’ve been a season ticket holder for over 20 years and have followed the sport very closely throughout that time, and since I’ve joined the Panthers and worked closely with Dale to develop our strategy for hockey moving forward."