Former Flyers president Peter Luukko, who abruptly resigned 14 months ago, is moving south to join the NHL's Florida Panthers as an executive chairman, the Daily News has learned.
An official announcement is expected to come on Friday, according to the Miami Herald.
Seeking an executive with both a hockey and business acumen, Luukko arrived in South Florida on the advice of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. His official title is still being determined, but Luukko is expected to work alongside current Panthers president and CEO Rory A. Babich.
Luukko also met with Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, a hockey executive he has known for years. It is believed Luukko will be a sounding board for Tallon's decisions on the hockey operations side, a role he held with the Flyers to general manager Paul Holmgren.
Luukko declined to comment on this story to the Daily News, citing a confidentiality agreement.
The Panthers' situation in Sunrise, Fla., is a tricky one. The team has qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs just once since 2000. On the business side, they have lost a significant amount of money over the years, unable to capitalize on a sweetheart lease of BB&T Center from owner Broward County. Many pegged the Panthers as the next NHL franchise to relocate.
Luukko will be counted on to help stop the bleeding. His business experience, after decades of managing arenas and stadiums as the chief operating officer of Comcast-Spectacor, will certainly help. The Panthers are believed to keep the bulk of all profits from BB&T Center (including concessions and parking) as well as from other non-hockey events at the arena.
He is not the first Flyers executive to jump to the Panthers. Bob Clarke was named Florida's first general manager in franchise history on April 20, 1993.
Luukko, 55, resigned as COO of the Flyers' parent company on Dec. 2, 2013 in a move that surprised just about everyone around the organization. He cashed out his stake in those Comcast-Spectacor business ventures and invested in other new ones, including in-arena 50-50 pioneer Point Streak, among others, which kept him busy.
His relationship with Flyers chairman Ed Snider went back to 1985, when Luukko was hired to run the Los Angeles Coliseum. Many observers, perhaps even Snider himself, viewed Luukko as the heir apparent to the Comcast-Spectacor empire.