The Florida Panthers have created a new hockey operations department, establishing the “Goaltending Excellence Department” that will be led by special advisor to the GM Roberto Luongo and new goaltending consultant Francois Allaire. They will be joined by Panthers goaltending coach Robb Tallas and Charlotte Checkers goaltending coach Leo Luongo and will focus on “comprehensive, integrated experience and program for all goaltenders in the Panthers system.”
GM Bill Zito released a statement on the formation of his new department:
Francois is a revered and highly influential figure in our game who has mentored a number of goaltenders to elite levels of play. Francois and Roberto provide us with unmatched experience and an exceptional pedigree. Their guidance, in tandem with our goaltending excellence staff gives us confidence in the evaluation of future talent and that Panthers goaltenders will be provided invaluable resources for their success and development.
Allaire has been a goaltending coach in the NHL for more than three decades, originally working with Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens. His time has taken him to the Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Colorado Avalanche, where he worked closely with Conn Smythe-winning goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Roberto Luongo meanwhile is one of the most celebrated goaltenders in NHL history and sits third all-time in wins with 489. His long connection with the Panthers organization will continue in this new endeavor as the Excellence Department will provide “consistent communication, guidance, and unified instruction” to every goaltender in the system. Currently, that includes Sergei Bobrovsky, Chris Driedger, Ryan Bednard, Philippe Desrosiers, and Sam Montembeault, but likely also extends to 19-year-old Spencer Knight who was selected 13th overall in 2019 and is still playing at Boston College. Knight’s performance at every level so far has been nothing short of spectacular and his development extemely important to the Panthers organization. In four games this season for Boston College he has registered a .955 save percentage and notched two shutouts. He is expected to be Team USA’s starter at the upcoming World Junior Championship.