The Panthers will announce the hiring of former Philadelphia Flyers executive Peter Luukko on Friday, the Miami Herald has learned.
A high-ranking source within the Florida organization said Luukko — who left his position as Flyers team president and COO of the organization’s Comcast-Spectacor operating arm in 2013 — came highly recommended from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
The Panthers’ new ownership group, which took over the team in September 2013, went to Bettman looking for an executive with extensive hockey and building-operating experience to help out the franchise six months ago.
Bettman and Luukko are said to be extremely close.
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Rory Babich, who replaced team president Michael Yormark last year, will remain CEO of the organization and will work alongside Luukko.
Luukko will hold the title of executive chairman with the Panthers.
“Rory needs some help,’’ the source said. “He’s done a lot in a short time, but there’s a lot more to be done.’’
Luukko, when reached by the Philadelphia Daily News, would not comment, citing a confidentiality agreement. He’s expected to talk extensively on Friday’s conference call.
On Thursday, the Florida source said general manager Dale Tallon and Luukko have known each other for years and are expected to work well together.
Luukko, 55, was considered the right-hand man of Philadelphia owner Ed Snider for 25 years before leaving the organization. Luukko has been working in the business sector the past few years.
“He’s looking for a challenge,’’ the source said of Luukko. “The Panthers are a challenge.’’
Snider, who employed Luukko from 1985 until his abrupt resignation in 2013, told Philly.com at the time that Luukko was leaving quite a void.
“We’ll survive,’’ Snider said, “but he’s done a hell of a job and he will be hard to replace.”
With the Panthers, Luukko is expected to consult on hockey issues with Tallon and the hockey operations side of the organization as well as restructure the team’s sales staff and help gain more sponsorship dollars as well as season-ticket holders.
Luukko will also help grow business at the BB&T Center as far as concerts and shows go and will be part of the Panthers’ ongoing negotiations with Broward County regarding payment restructuring.
“We needed someone with a lot of experience,’’ the source continued. “Peter knows everyone in this industry. Everyone.”