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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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