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06-20-2007, 10:22 AM
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pb1300
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Q & A with Alan Cohen

QUESTION: It was a year ago this week the club traded Roberto Luongo. Can you assess this trade now and describe exactly what happened?

ALAN COHEN: “The bottom line is we tried to sign Roberto for 18 months. The plan I’ve had since day one (as owner) was to sign our kids. I said I wanted guys to stay seven to 10-plus years and build through the draft. I never dreamed we’d trade Roberto. That’s why we tried to sign him for 18 months. He never said there was a problem with the dollars. We just couldn’t get it done. With most everyone else we get the deal done pretty quickly. All he had to do was get out a pen. The contract was there for 18 months.
“When it didn’t happen, the staff said (the trade) would make the team better. I really had no choice but to say, ‘Yes.’ As much as I love Roberto - and I have the utmost respect for him - but when the whole staff said trading him would be in the best interest of the Panthers, I said ‘Yes.’
“In any trade, when the main part (Todd Bertuzzi) doesn’t play, it will wind up as a bad trade. Along with that, (Alex) Auld, who was the Canucks’ MVP, didn’t fulfill that potential last year with us. If those two guys step up the way Roberto did for Vancouver, it could have been considered a much better deal. But at the time I had to make a decision and the staff believed this would be the best thing to do. If things were turned around and Roberto was the one that got injured and our players performed like we thought, the trade would have obviously looked different.”

Q: Is the trade one of the reasons (former GM) Mike Keenan was dismissed?

AC: “I don’t really think so. Sometimes it’s just best to move on. Mike is a great hockey mind, but it was just time to have everyone on the same page. Mike was frustrated as well. The inability to get Roberto signed was the responsibility of many. Had Roberto signed his name on the dotted line, he would still be here. He had 18 months to do that. You can pick up a pen anywhere.”

Q: With the salary cap projected to be approximately $50 million, where do you project the payroll of the team come the fall?

AC: I’m thinking our payroll will be in the mid-$40 million area.”

Q: Is the main focus to get a goalie this off-season?

AC: “That’s up to Jacques. Jacques makes all those decisions. I’m comfortable with that. Having said that, I think Eddie (Belfour) played great last season.”

Q: How important is it for this team to get into the playoffs and get over that hump?

AC: “I don’t think fans understood how bad the situation was here in the three years pre CBA. When we took over, we had a 60 point team. We didn’t have anyone in the minors to speak of. We traded away first round picks. It was going to take a while to rebuild. I think what I learned from the experience is some people think you can wave a magic wand and fix things. I think post CBA, it’s much easier to get better quicker. We took over a 60 point team losing $20 million. The Rangers were spending $50 million more and still not making the playoffs. That’s absurd. You needed to build through the draft. Then spend the money on keeping the team together. Our plan was to build-up a good nucleus of young players and be in good position post CBA. I thought if we did that we’d be in good shape.

“And I think we are there now. We lost $10 million last year, but we’re committed to building a winner. Sure, I’d rather the higher revenues of the bigger market teams. Then money wouldn’t come out of my pocket. But until we create that revenue, we’ll continue to spend and support the team.

Q: Some have called you a frugal owner?

AC: “We’ve lost close to $90 million the last six years. I don’t think (frugal) would be the right word. Crazy might be better.”

Q: So how can you sustain the team through such losses?

AC: “Losing money is not fun. But as long as we’re able to afford a team as competitive as anyone else in the league, I’m happy. I’m committed to building a team we can all be proud of and we’ll continue signing our young players. Hopefully, fans will see that times have changed and that they can be proud of being a Panther fan. We should be a playoff type team from here on out; year in and year out (with) players being drafted here and some playing their whole careers here. I’m confident going forward that whatever was in the past is in the past.”

Q: What do fans tell you is there biggest frustration?

AC: “That we haven’t gotten to the playoffs. But it was impossible the first three years. The fact is, with the old CBA, we could only afford a mid-$20 million payroll. You wanted to spend more money but the players were too expensive. Now we can spend $20 million more on players because doing that will make you competitive. Especially if you have a good nucleus of young players that we didn’t have before and now always will. You can’t take a 60 point team, with not much talent, and spend $10 million on one player and expect to be anything better than a 60 point team losing $30 million instead of $20 million and getting a worse draft pick. That would be insane and counter productive to the longer-term vision.”

Q: What kind of players will the Panthers target in free agency. What kind of salary?

AC: “That’s Jacques’ call. Jacques has a long-term view. It’s important to keep a long-term view because we have players coming up who will need bigger contracts. We don’t want to be a one year wonder. But at the same time we want to be able to be the best team we can be every year.”

Q: There was a lot of instability with the front office in the past. How did that occur?

AC: “I don’t know, really. I think I always had a situation where the GM and coach were not on the same page. The situation happened. Stuff just happens sometimes. I guess I should have made better decisions. But if you don’t, for whatever reason, you need to correct it and move forward. We changed because we needed to put ourselves in a better situation. I did that and I’m happy where we are right now. I always thought there were talented people here, but maybe not on the same page. That will trickle through the whole organization. It was something I needed to address, and I did. There’s stability now. I love that more than anyone.”

Q: Was Keenan the reason for the instability?

AC: “Mike’s a competitor, and he will do a great job in Calgary. I really believe in him. Was he the right fit here? Maybe he wasn’t the right fit or the situation wasn’t right at the time. I think Mike would agree. It turned out best for him. I believe his heart is in coaching.”

Q: What’s the team’s biggest need?

AC: “In a cap world, there are always going to be needs you have to do without. (pause) I think we need to have a better November.”

Q: Would you agree with Jacques that if Bertuzzi wasn’t injured and Joe Nieuwendyk didn’t retire you would have made the playoffs?

AC: “Yes, I agree. But even though we lost those players, if we weren’t one of the worst at taking or receiving penalties or (losing) shootouts we would have been right there anyway. I think we were one of the best teams in the league 5 on 5. A lot of things went wrong for us last year. I’m hoping the team picks up where they left off last season. With a little bit of luck and if everyone stays somewhat healthy, we should be much better. But, you know, those are excuses. We need to make the playoffs. I think every year from here on out we’ll have a chance to do that.”



Couple of things that interest me:

~Obviously the most important thing, having the cap in the mid $40s. We all figured that since he spent close to the cap last season, they would automatically do it this season as well. Its good to get the facts straight from the horses mouth.

~How he is letting Martin do his thing. When he was asked of the UFAs or our biggest needs, he didnt hesitate to say Martin will make those decisions.

~How much money does this guy have! To lose $90 million in six years and still spend to put out a competitive team really says a lot about an owner.

~To add on to the previous bullet, his commitment to winning. The guy wants to build a winner here and wants it for everyone.

~His understanding of the instability of this team. Im glad he is realizing how you to run an organization, and having the right people in place.

For the the flack that this guy gets from some of us on the board, he has been a great owner for us so far. Sure he might not of been experienced when he first got the team, but the man has learned a lot. He is obviously willing to spend the $$$ necessary to win, and wants to win. Look at it this way, we could of been owned by Jeffrey Loria.

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06-20-2007, 10:31 AM
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Haha, I just posted parts of this on the FA discussion. It's an interesting talk, especially the financial status of the team. 90 million over 6 years is a huge number, regardless of what the "actual" losses were...

Part of this reinforces why this organization is headed in the right direction. You have a great hockey mind steering the ship: Jacques. We'll be able to stay competitive by not blowing all our draft picks or prospects like we used to and Cohen is committed to keeping the young core intact.

I am concerned that we're not going to make up for losing Niewy, Roberts, & Bertuzzi via free agency though. I'd rather us not sign Stumpel and spend that money to bring in a Jason Blake to play next to Olli (that's a really good upgrade). Then you'd have something along the lines of Pelts-Jokinen-Blake, Olesz-Weiss-Horton as the top 2 lines. Putting the bulk of the scoring pressure on Jokinen, Weiss and Horton worries me.

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06-20-2007, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by FlaPanthers7 View Post
Haha, I just posted parts of this on the FA discussion. It's an interesting talk, especially the financial status of the team. 90 million over 6 years is a huge number, regardless of what the "actual" losses were...

Part of this reinforces why this organization is headed in the right direction. You have a great hockey mind steering the ship: Jacques. We'll be able to stay competitive by not blowing all our draft picks or prospects like we used to and Cohen is committed to keeping the young core intact.

I am concerned that we're not going to make up for losing Niewy, Roberts, & Bertuzzi via free agency though. I'd rather us not sign Stumpel and spend that money to bring in a Jason Blake to play next to Olli (that's a really good upgrade). Then you'd have something along the lines of Pelts-Jokinen-Blake, Olesz-Weiss-Horton as the top 2 lines. Putting the bulk of the scoring pressure on Jokinen, Weiss and Horton worries me.
Remember, we didnt have Niewy or Bertuzzi at all last year and still scored alot of goals.

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06-20-2007, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlaPanthers7 View Post
Haha, I just posted parts of this on the FA discussion. It's an interesting talk, especially the financial status of the team. 90 million over 6 years is a huge number, regardless of what the "actual" losses were...

Part of this reinforces why this organization is headed in the right direction. You have a great hockey mind steering the ship: Jacques. We'll be able to stay competitive by not blowing all our draft picks or prospects like we used to and Cohen is committed to keeping the young core intact.

I am concerned that we're not going to make up for losing Niewy, Roberts, & Bertuzzi via free agency though. I'd rather us not sign Stumpel and spend that money to bring in a Jason Blake to play next to Olli (that's a really good upgrade). Then you'd have something along the lines of Pelts-Jokinen-Blake, Olesz-Weiss-Horton as the top 2 lines. Putting the bulk of the scoring pressure on Jokinen, Weiss and Horton worries me.
It would not surprise me if Todd White is the only significant addition to the roster after July 1st. I think Stumpel and Belfour will be re-signed and the hope will be the additions of White along with Murphy and Welch will be enough to be a playoff team.

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06-20-2007, 11:09 AM
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Well the Panthers lost 90 mil over the last 6 years. However he makes money with SSE from concerts and other events. Trust me AC as a business owner makes alot of $$$$$$.


I have said all along that the best sports owners are not necesarrily in it to make money. rather to have the glory of being a winner. George Steinbrenner would only be on the cover of Shipbuilders Quaterly if he were not the owner of the Yankees. Mark Cuban would just be another annoying Techno Geek millionaire if he was not the owner of the Mavericks. These guy are owners of teams because they are first and foremost fans, and because its the way to glory. I belive AC is on that mold as well.

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06-20-2007, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Georgia Panther View Post
It would not surprise me if Todd White is the only significant addition to the roster after July 1st. I think Stumpel and Belfour will be re-signed and the hope will be the additions of White along with Murphy and Welch will be enough to be a playoff team.
I agree. Todd White for 2.25M$ per year for 3 years

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06-20-2007, 11:28 AM
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I agree. Todd White for 2.25M$ per year for 3 years
if thats all that happens i will be severely pissed.

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06-20-2007, 11:44 AM
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Remember, we didnt have Niewy or Bertuzzi at all last year and still scored alot of goals.
Not consisently enough though to make the playoffs. Our defense kept us in just about every game, but we fell short too many times. We also couldn't win OT games (a scoring issue), shootouts, and our PP was average (which was still an improvement from the year before).

The areas that we need improvement on are just that: special teams (PP) and goal.

I agree with GeorgiaPanther (aka the Artist Formerly Known as PanthersPride! ), I wouldn't be surprised either if White was the only FA we added, and we just resigned our own guys in Belfour and Stumpel.

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06-20-2007, 12:07 PM
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we just traded/lost at least 4 guys since the trade deadline. if we only pick up 1 guy, i will definitely be pissed.

That will NOT be a playoff team.

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06-20-2007, 12:19 PM
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Lets be real, Cohen is rich for a reason and he is making his money with the team and the arena one way or the other. And no way has he been a good owner. It all starts at the top and he has been inconsistent and made horrible management decisions. And I cringe every time he speaks to the media. Who in their right mind would try to force keenan and dudley together? and then to hire keenan back? Maybe he's finally learned but we'll see soon enough.

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06-20-2007, 12:22 PM
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about the interview - he's saying all the right things - but that's all this really is. i'm pretty skeptical over his numbers, too. i've read from more than once source that florida just about broke even this year. maybe his $10million figure is before revenue sharing is figured in.

and like catfan said, even if he was losing $10million, he's milking the concerts and events for much more.

as far as free agents - we'll sign more than one guy i'm thinking. he gave the go-ahead on a $45million-ish payroll and where we stand, unless the one guy is daniel briere at $9million a season, i'd be pretty hard to reach that figure. i trust martin - even though there isn't too much history, i still trust him. we'll see - but for the first time in a long time i think we'll be pleased this offseason.

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06-20-2007, 12:38 PM
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I don't think anyone here will say that Cohen has been a good owner all along. However, I honestly do think that he is a good owner right now. He's learned from his mistakes and as he said several times in this interview, this is basically Jacques team and I for one am very happy about that.

No doubt he has made some stupid mistakes in the past, but this guy wants to win as much as any of us here.

I've said this 1000 times -- Sports is a business and Alan Cohen is a great business man. I think it will show one day, but right now the memory of this past is just too strong to overlook.

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06-20-2007, 01:36 PM
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Well we all agree he made some mistakes but when you take into account what he was given when he bought the team, he has at least not made any cataclysmic errors other than the revolving Keenan door.

He knew all along that he needed to look long range and build the team through youth. And that has been accomplished so far, with only more to come.

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06-20-2007, 02:23 PM
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He can be "losing money" as the panthers but as the stadium he might be making it. Just like Wayne claimed for the Marlins originally before breaking it up and selling off players and the team to the idiot he sold it to.


That said I think Cohen came off very well in that owner as a passionate owner that wants to do well and is being responsible.


As for the loria comment it should be noted he did get a World Series. I want a cup

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06-20-2007, 03:26 PM
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honestly - cohen really has only made one mistake. problem is, it was a catastrophic one. the day he hired and was willingly brainwashed by mike keenan, it set this franchise back 10 years.

we'll see how he does now with keenan out of the picture. sticking with martin is a good first step. we'll see from now on.

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06-20-2007, 03:31 PM
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honestly - cohen really has only made one mistake. problem is, it was a catastrophic one. the day he hired and was willingly brainwashed by mike keenan, it set this franchise back 10 years.

we'll see how he does now with keenan out of the picture. sticking with martin is a good first step. we'll see from now on.


How can you say the franchise was set back 10 years. We have increased our points every year for the last 5 years? If we just went back 5 years we would have Lance Ward, Pitlick, Ference, Van Impe and Norton on D.

Anyone see that you can send in questions for AC to answer at the bottom of the Q a A.

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06-20-2007, 03:58 PM
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Anyone see that you can send in questions for AC to answer at the bottom of the Q a A.

Yep and at times you can email him directly from the Panthers website. He frequently answers them as well.

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06-20-2007, 05:34 PM
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we just traded/lost at least 4 guys since the trade deadline. if we only pick up 1 guy, i will definitely be pissed.

That will NOT be a playoff team.
I'm pretty confident that Jacques knows this. He's not a moron.

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06-22-2007, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by RoyalFlush21 View Post
honestly - cohen really has only made one mistake. problem is, it was a catastrophic one. the day he hired and was willingly brainwashed by mike keenan, it set this franchise back 10 years.

we'll see how he does now with keenan out of the picture. sticking with martin is a good first step. we'll see from now on.
well he definetly polished up his mistake today!!1 im so pumped

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