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Peter DeBoer is DeMan in Florida

Deboer Peter DeBoer is now the former coach of the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario junior Hockey League. He is now the Panthers new head coach, the 10th in the franchise's short history.

DeBoer flew to Barbados and interviewed with Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk for their vacant job, one that went to Craig Hartsberg.

Now, JM says DeBoer selected the Panthers (thereby snubbing the Sens) and signed a multi-year deal to coach in Florida.

"He was wanted by several organizations and picked ours,'' Martin said. "He likes our people, likes our roster. I was able to come to final agreement with him around noon. It's great for our franchise. Ottawa, LA and other teams were pursing him. This speaks highly for us.''

Of course, Ottawa has a different take on how things went down. According to the Ottawa Sun, Melnyk flew from Barbados to Canada to interview Hartsberg (former coach of the Blackhawks and Ducks who was coaching in juniors as well), with GM Bryan Murray offering the job Thursday night. The Sens made it official on Friday morning, with DeBoer agreeing to coach the Cats "around noon" says JM.

DeBoer wasn't available to us today, but he will on Monday when everyone gathers at The Bank for a formal presser. Good times to come, I'm betting.

Kitchener_2 Am interested in meeting DeBoer, who I've been told by many is a cool dude. Gregory Campbell, who played for DeBoer on two different junior teams, says he "knows how to push all the right buttons,'' adding that DeBoer has a keen eye on how to treat everyone. "He doesn't play favorites,'' said Campbell, who adds that the Panthers want him back and he wants to be back. "We're working on things. It's cool,'' he said.

PS: Today is Peter's 40th birthday. Quite the gift.

DeBoer's Kitchener team won the 2003 Memorial Cup with Campbell, but the Rangers came up short this time around, losing in the finals.

-- As far as assistant coaches go, JM says DeBoer will be able to name his own staff, but will talk to the current guys first. Since all three fellas (Guy Charron, Mike Kitchen and Pierre Groulx) are under contract for next season, wouldn't be surprised to see zero change there next season. Not that there needed to be, mind you.

Steve Spott, DeBoer's assistant in Kitcher and with the Canadian juniors in the past, could find his way south.

-- Stephen Weiss, who played for DeBoer at Plymouth, is apparently a huge fan. Campbell says Weiss is the one who called him to give him the news. "Weisser is fired up,'' Campbell said. "He was a raw, talented player when he went to Plymouth and Pete really got the most out of him. Weisser credits him with a lot of his development.''

-- Campbell also credits DeBoer for the development of Buffalo's Derek Roy, one of those guys who "needed a fire lit under them.''

-- And yes, this hiring was a big surprise. JM never once indicated this was the way he was going to go. Would not play poker against this guy. He never tipped his hand. Not once.

-- On this special occasion, it's Frozen Poll time! As always, love to read comments from y'all, so leave them at the bottom. Thanks.

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Huh??? An interesting selection out of left field...

So I guess JM didn't interview Perry Pearn or Cunneyworth?

GR, are the Panthers going to allow DeBoer to select his coach staff or are they keeping Charon and Kitchen?

JM says Peter will be able to interview his own staff, but will start with the guys who are already here -- and under contract....

good hire by jm

Thanks GR. You're the best Panthers writer around!

Can i go to the press conference as an outsider?

Well you did not put, Wow in the poll so I said yes...As long as he is not the same coach as JM was.......

I think that Kitchen can stay but Charron needs to go.....to much like JM

Way to go JM, this is the best news panther fans can have, this guy coaches an aggressive style and we will see the puck in the offensive end more and the goalies will have less work

I can't wait to drop the puck, now let's get the right players, the country club atmosphere is over

Jesus....so many quality and proven NHL coaches and JM gets DeBoer? Are you friggin' kiddin' me?

This guys claim to fame is a couple of junior championships and coaching 2 guys that have produced less than my kid brother...

The crazy thing is that this is not much of a gamble in this lousy market. They hire a coach who has never been behind an NHL bench and no one says peep....

This organization makes me glad I never became a Panthers fan.

Only time will tell if this a good move...I like the new blood instead of the re-tread philosophy. Whether DeBoer is ready remains to be seen...

Great forward-looking move by JM... none of the experienced coaches on the market really got me excited... he's taking a calculated risk on a highly-regarded up-and-comer, which makes perfect sense. I'm a bit surprised that Randy Cunneyworth didn't get the nod... would be interested to know the rationale there as to why he wasn't deemed to be NHL-ready.

Seems like Cohen mandated new blood but bought into the hype once again. Cohen should have gone with new blood and skipped the hiring of Keenan and Martin, who have done almost as much damage as the turmoil caused by the sale and sell off of players by Murray. If Martin can learn to shut his mouth behind closed doors now and not trade Jokinen, things might be looking to improve in Florida. Martin still needs to vacate the GM job tho.

Great move by Martin. He is by far the best GM we have ever had in Florida.

Best GM in Florida? I think Dave Dombrowski and Larry Beinfest may rate a touch higher based on what their teams accomplished...as far as the Panthers go, time will tell. Aside from Bobby Clarke, there's not much competition, although BM was here for a while...

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