You’re hired! Trump picks Florida Panthers owner for Army Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Army is Florida Panthers owner Vincent J. Viola.

Viola is a fellow billionaire whose credentials run deep on both the military and business sides.

Viola also doesn’t have a problem saying Trump’s famous catch-phrase: “You’re Fired.” The NHL’s Panthers let go of their head coach last month about eight weeks into the current NHL season.

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Florida Panthers’ majority owner Vincent Viola has been chosen by President-elect Trump to be the Secretary of the U.S. Army. (Photo: Associated Press)

“In seeking to earn a second consecutive playoff berth and bring a Stanley Cup to South Florida, we believe that new leadership is required immediately,” Viola said when the team fired Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28.

And it was literally, “my way or the highway” for Gallant. He was sent on his way after a loss to Carolina, given his bags off the team’s bus and forced to hail a taxi back to the airport.

Next to earning a playoff berth, getting your owner selected for a high-level position in the next president’s administration is right on up there for the Panthers’ staff and players, the team says.

“We could not be more proud for Vinnie and his family,” said Matthew Caldwell, president and CEO of the Panthers at a news conference today. “If you know Vinnie he is so patriotic. He loves the military. He loves this country.”

Viola is a 1977 graduate of West Point and a former Army Ranger. He is also the founder of Virtu Financial. He bought the NHL team in 2013.

He is a past chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge,” Trump said in a statement.

Viola in a statement said that his job as Army Secretary — pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate, of course —  would be to provide Trump with the land military force required for national defense in the modern era.

“A primary focus of my leadership will be ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict,” Viola said. “This great honor comes with great responsibility, and I will fight for the American people and their right to live free every day.”

Panthers Vice Chairman Douglas Cifu –Viola’s long-time business partner and friend — will take over primary ownership responsibilities from Viola.
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Vincent Viola talks to the media about the future of the Florida Panthers during a press conference in 2013 (Photo: Associated Press)

“While we all miss his leadership and guidance day-to-day, his mentorship over these many years has prepared me to take on this humbling responsibility with the Panthers and the NHL,” he said.

Viola’s ownership of the Florida Panthers will be placed in a trust, according to the team.

Trump, staying at Mar-O-Lago on Palm Beach for the Christmas holiday, had a slate of other interviews scheduled for today to fill various positions.

The President-elect hasn’t announced yet if he will be making any public appearances while in South Florida, but last year he went to Christmas midnight mass at the Episcopal church Bethesda-by-the-Sea

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