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Committed To Accountability

Monday, 11.16.2009 / 2:01 PM ET / News
Florida Panthers
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Committed To Accountability
New Co-General Partners Cliff Viner and Stu Siegel along with SSE president/COO Michael Yormark (Socrates Gomez)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
Cliff Viner and Stu Siegel, announced Monday as co-general partners of the Panthers, said they are committed to setting a vision and direction that will result in accountability, communication and a winning culture throughout the organization.
Formerly limited partners with the Panthers, Viner and Siegel, longtime hockey fans who can usually be seen at BankAtlantic Center mingling with fans between periods, are also eager to build relationships throughout the South Florida community. Both have an extensive history in philanthropic causes.
“We’re going to be with the fans,” said Siegel, who played hockey at the University of Pennsylvania and continues to play in various leagues. “We’re going to be crying with them. We’re going to be laughing with them. We are the biggest Panthers fans.”
Viner, a limited partner for nearly seven years, added he and Siegel are “not here to make player changes; it’s not our job.” But both men agree they will hold everyone accountable throughout the organization.
“We’re going to talk about what kind of team we want to mold,” Viner said. “We want a team that competes hard every night. We don’t want guys who take a day off here and there. We want guys giving 100 percent every single night. That’s more the type of questions (for us as owners) rather than, ‘I think we ought to get rid of this center or that winger.’ Again, that’s not what we should do, but we should be able to help mold the team.”
Viner said better communication between hockey operations and management has already started and all sides of the business are in synch. “Hockey decisions coordinated with business decisions coordinated with ownership decisions,” he added.
“What we can do is set an overall direction; budgets, how much we can spend on players, even getting down to working with the GM on positional things…how much we spend on defense, how much we spend on goalies,” Siegel said. “In the world of the salary cap you can’t just do anything you want. Trades become more difficult, too. Teams just can’t take salary without getting rid of salary, so it’s a lot more complicated.”
When asked if they were happy about contracts signed in the past with some players, Siegel and Viner were philosophical.
“Are there some contracts we wish we could go back and renegotiate?” Siegel asked. “I think there’s probably a few.”
Viner reminded that contracts signed several years ago were during a “different mindset.”
“It was 2004, 2005, 2006…the economy was doing very well, the league was doing very well,” he said. “Salaries were beginning to escalate. I think part of the mindset was, ‘Lets see if we can lock in some of those costs longer term,’ because we didn’t know where the escalation was going to take us.”
Since the Panthers have played nearly at the cap the past several seasons, Viner said the Panthers might not have always invested wisely. “That’s why we’re interested in having better direction and better communication and better scouting and better drafting and better player development.”
“I don’t think the amount of money we’ve spent is the issue,” he said. “We just haven’t spent it as well as we could have or should have.”
After a short pause Siegel added; “Or as well as other teams.”
“But I think (GM) Randy (Sexton) has this philosophy as well, it’s not how much you spend but how you spend it. That will be critical going forward.”
Asked if they would support Sexton and coach Peter DeBoer, Siegel said; “That’s our goal. But in any sport the GM and coach are most on the line for succeeding.”
“With any business people are constantly being evaluated,” Viner said. “We want to hold people accountable and keep evaluating them. Do they bring a team that competes every night, which competes hard every night? Are we getting the most out of our guys? The definition of success is multi-faceted.”
Siegel, in his second year with the Panthers, serves as chairman of the Florida Panthers Foundation and a private foundation he formed with his wife Jill over a decade ago. He has built a reputation as a sharp business leader. Most recently, Siegel was CEO of the Boca Raton-based eNeighborhoods, one of the fastest growing technology companies for the real estate industry. From 2005-07, Siegel was named to the Inman100 list of the 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders.
Viner is general partner of AVM, L.P., a fixed income broker/dealer. Along with his wife Jill, Viner established the Compassionate Care Program at Ruth Rales Jewish Family Services in Palm Beach County and created Camp BreakAway, where over 110 children are sent to camp each summer in Pennsylvania. The Viners have also established financial aid scholarships in perpetuity at the University of Pennsylvania and have endowed financial aid scholarships in athletics at Boston University. Jill is also Senior Vice President of the Executive Board at the Barton G. Kids Hear Now Foundation and a National Board Member of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

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