Bill Zito has a new title with the Florida Panthers. He's now president of hockey operations

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Bill Zito has been promoted by the Florida Panthers, with the team announcing Monday that its general manager will now also serve as the team's president of hockey operations.

The promotion came with a multi-year contract extension, the terms of which were not revealed by the reigning Eastern Conference champions.

Zito's arrival four years ago sparked a massive turnaround by the Panthers, who have made the playoffs in all four of his seasons leading the front office — a streak unlike any other in club history — and have won more than half their games in all four of those seasons. In the 26 seasons before Zito, Florida had a total of three seasons where it won more than 50% of its games.

“Obviously on a personal level, I’m thrilled and honored," Zito said. "And I'm grateful to be able to continue to try to keep building and keep pursuing the goal of making this a destination franchise.”

It's another example of the Panthers locking up talent for years to come, with one of owner Vincent Viola's mandates being to assure the fan base that what's being built in Florida is being built to last for many years.

Among those in Florida with long-term deals: Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, Gustav Forsling, coach Paul Maurice, and now, the guy who got all those contracts done with the Panthers.

“From his first day as a Panther, Bill has demonstrated his complete commitment to success both on and off the ice. He has worked steadfastly and tirelessly to establish a new standard of excellence for our franchise,” Viola said. “The future has never looked brighter in South Florida and we are thrilled that Bill will continue to lead the way.”

Florida has the fifth-best record in the NHL during Zito's tenure, plus leads the league in comeback wins, overtime wins and shots on goal. The Panthers are tied with Edmonton for No. 2 in the NHL in goals over Zito's four seasons entering Monday; they have 1,073, three less than Colorado had.

Also under Zito, a two-time GM of the year finalist: The Panthers won the Presidents' Trophy in 2022 and went to the Stanley Cup Final last season.

“Under Bill’s leadership we have seen renewed fan excitement, consistent playoff appearances and a sustained culture of success,” Panthers alternate governor Michael Viola said. “Through this extension, we are recommitting to stability and strength at the heart of our organization, and the continued growth of our sport throughout Broward County and South Florida.”



Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press