Who is Bill Zito? All we know about the former attorney turned Panthers GM

Syndication: Palm Beach Post
Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito and wife Julie Zito(Picture Credit: Imagn)

The Florida Panthers have reached their second Stanley Cup Final in just four seasons under general manager Bill Zito. The team has performed phenomenally under his leadership, and things have only been improving for the Florida-based franchise.

Zito was appointed the Florida Panthers GM on Sept. 2, 2020. He has been extensively involved with the league for well over a decade. Unbeknownst to many, Bill Zito has been an attorney of law, a player agent and the general manager of a Columbus Blue Jackets’ affiliate team in the past. Here’s what you need to know about the Florida Panthers’ GM.

#1. Bill Zito played ice-hockey in college

Zito played ice hockey for the Yale Bulldogs from 1984 to 1987 during his time at Yale University. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in history, he went to play professionally in Europe but would return home after one season.

Bill Zito then completed law school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison but his passion for the sport kept him very close to the rink. During his time in Wisconsin, he worked as a graduate assistant and assistant coach for the Badgers hockey team.

#2. Zito co-founded Acme World Sports agency

With his JD degree from Wisconsin, Zito practiced law as an attorney in NY and Chicago for a while. He would then bring his passion for the sport and his professional career together to co-found the Acme World Sports agency, which would go on to represent many prominent NHL players.

Acme World Sports was ranked as the eighth highest-grossing hockey agency in the world by 2013. Zito went on to secure record-setting contracts for players including Kimmo Timonen’s 6-year, $38 million deal in 2007, James Wisniewski’s 6-year, $33 million contract in 2011, and Tuukka Rask’s 8-year, $56 million contract in 2013.

#3. Zito served as general manager for Team USA

Bill Zito has been part of Team USA’s management in two different editions of the IIHF Championships. Back in 2015, he was a member of the management team when USA went on to win a bronze in Czech Republic.

Three years later, Zito was appointed a general manager of Team USA heading into the 2018 IIHF Worlds. That year, the Stars and Stripes won a bronze medal and went 6-2-0-2 in the tournament, which is the best record by Team USA to-date.

#4. Bill Zito spent seven seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets

Before joining the Panthers, Zito served as assistant general manager for the Columbus Blue Jackets for six seasons. He then became vice president of hockey operations, associate general manager, and alternate governor in 2019.

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In 2015-16, he was named general manager of the Cleveland Monsters, Columbus' AHL affiliate. Under his leadership, the Monsters set a franchise record with 97 regular-season points and won their first Calder Cup Championship.

#5. Zito established Panthers’ pioneering goaltending program

Since becoming the Florida Panthers' GM, Bill Zito has established a ‘first-of-its-kind’ Goaltending Excellence Department. This initiative focuses on providing a comprehensive and integrated program for all goalies in the Panthers' system.

The department is headed by Hockey Hall of Famer and Special Advisor to the GM, Roberto Luongo. Needless to say, Bill Zito’s initiative has been successful in making Florida’s improved goaltending a part of their strategy for long-term success.

#6. Bill Zito is a father of three

Bill Zito is married to Julie Zito (nee Tabloff), and they are parents to three children. Their twin daughters, Francesca and Gianna, were born in 2011, followed by their son, William Zito III in 2013.

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Edited by Debasish
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