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4 posts from November 8, 2013

November 08, 2013

CHANGE IN FLORIDA: Kevin Dineen Out, Peter Horachek

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

BOSTON -- The Panthers decided to fire coach Kevin Dineen late Thursday night and made the move official early Friday morning.

Dineen was told of his fate in a morning meeting with general manager Dale Tallon at the team hotel in Ottawa. Assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Craig Ramsay were also fired.

"He was unhappy and I don't blame him,'' Tallon said of his meeting with Dineen.

"He's a fiery guy and a fiery competitor and an emotional coach and I don't blame him for being upset. I didn't expect anything less from him. He's a class guy, hard working guy.

"It's one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make.

Tallon informed new coach Peter Horachek of his promotion not long after Florida's 4-1 loss at Boston on Thursday night. Horachek, who spent a decade as an assistant at Nashville, had been coaching Florida's minor league team in San Antonio.

The Panthers have lost seven straight, longest since the final weeks of Pete DeBoer's time behind the bench at the end of the 2010-11 season.

DeBoer was fired the day after that season ended and Dineen was hired a few months later.

Horachek, the 20th coach in the franchise's 20th anniversary season, will work on an interim basis. If things go well, he could get the gig full-time.

Original Florida captain Brian Skrudland -- who had been serving as the team's director of player development -- and former Panthers center John Madden (2011-12) replace Murphy and Ramsay.

Madden was in his first year as a pro scout for the Panthers and was in Nashville with the team a few weeks back to work with the centers.

Horachek is expected to lead Florida's practice in Ottawa Friday afternoon and will make his NHL head coaching debut Saturday at 2 p.m. when the Panthers -- winless in their past seven -- take on the host Senators.

Goalie coach Robb Tallas, video coach Jason Cipolla and strength and conditioning coach Craig Slaunwhite will remain on the staff.

"Kevin, Gord and Craig worked very hard. But for some reason the message was not getting through,'' Tallon said.

"I thank them for their hard work and professionalism. They displayed that on a daily basis. We're all responsible for this record. This marks the first change to start turning this franchise around and become a winning organization.

Dineen, who celebrated his 50th birthday just last week, went 56-63-38 in his two-plus seasons with the Panthers. In his first year, Dineen led Florida to its first Southeast Division title in franchise history and first playoff berth in 12 years.

Florida's second season under Dineen was marred by lockout-shortened and injury-riddled campaign. Florida finished last in the entire league for the first time ever.

This year got off to a rousing start with wins in the season-opener Oct. 3 at Dallas and in the home opener Oct. 11 against Pittsburgh. But Florida has only won one other time -- and that shootout win over Minnesota on Oct. 19 will go down as Dineen's final victory as head coach of the Panthers.

"You hate to see these guys go,'' alternate captain Brian Campbell said Friday afternoon.

In one of his final statements as coach of the Panthers following Thursday's loss in Boston, Dineen said "tomorrow will be a big decision-making day for us."

Dineen was talking specifically about the potential return of goalie Tim Thomas. Apparently the decision to fire him had already been made.

"This is the first of many changes that we're making,'' Tallon said. "There's he old saying: It's easier to fire the coach than 23 players. We're on the phone constantly and we'll make changes as we go.

"Right now I'm dissatisfied with the effort from most of the guys. We need to be better.''

 

DALE TALLON SPEAKS OUT: Firing Kevin Dineen Was Tough but Needed

For more news as it breaks, follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeRichards

DALE TALLON

"After 16 games it was clear we needed a change in our message and philosophy. This was a joint decision not made easily between ownership and hockey ops. It's my responsibility to get our team to play to its maximum potential.

"Vinnie Viola demands excellence at every level within the organization. He's committed to winning and putting a winning product on the ice for our fans.

"Our better players need to start playing better or we'll get better players.

"Kevin, Gord and Craig worked very hard. But for some reason the message was not getting through. I thank them for their hard work and professionalism. They displayed that on a daily basis.

"We're all responsible for this record. This marks the first change to start turning this franchise around and become a winning organization.

-- When was decision made?

"I've been stewing on it for a long time. It's never easy. We don't make rash decisions; make decisions for the future of our franchise based where we're at currently. With many discussions with our ownership group and our hockey ops, we came to the decision and decided this was the best course of action.

"[Thursday] was one straw of many. We're 3-9-4 and that's unacceptable.

-- When did you tell Kevin & Co.

"This morning. First thing this morning.

"He was unhappy and I don't blame him. He's a fiery guy and a fiery competitor and an emotional coach and I don't blame him for being upset. I didn't expect anything less from him. He's a class guy, hard working guy.

"It's one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make.

-- Will Kevin be retained to work with the team in a different role?

"This was an emotional morning but he'll have the time to sit back and see. He's been offered the opportunity to stay with our organization.

-- This isn't just coaching

"This is the first of many changes that we're making. It's the old saying: It's easier to fire the coach than 23 players. We're on the phone constantly and we'll make changes as we go. We want people who want to be with the Panthers. If they don't want to be, we'll accommodate them.

"Right now I'm dissatisfied with the effort from most of the guys. We need to be better.

-- Have you tried to make trades?

"I've tried extremely hard every day. There have been numerous phone calls with numerous teams. Hopefully something will hit in the near future.

-- About the new coaches

"Peter Horachek was hired to coach our affiliate in San Antonio after a successful run with Nashville. Peter has had success at every level he's coached at. He's going to come in and hopefully turn this thing around. Peter is free to hire another assistant if he wants.

"This is just the beginning of the changes that we need to make. If the players don't respond to this, well, they won't be Panthers for very long.

-- Peter's term

"He's an interim coach. Obviously if he does well, he'll stay. We'll evaluate after the season. We need to get back into the hunt here. I'm not giving up by any means here. We need to do anything we can to get back in the playoff hunt without jeopardizing our future.

-- Was Kevin's job in jeopardy all season?

"[Horachek] was brought in to help our young players and bring success to our farm team.

-- No one thinks of you as a playoff team; why you doing this?

"We always go to training camp trying to make the playoffs. People can evaluate your team from afar, but we still have high hopes.

-- Did you address the team?

"I will at 11:30.

-- Leadership on the Panthers

"We'll address that today at 11:30.

-- Will you change captains?

"No. Jovo will be back in a week-10 days and we miss him. We miss that leadership. That's what he brings to us. That's why we made the playoffs two years ago. We miss him. Hopefully he gets back sooner than later so he can help some of our young guys become leaders as well.

-- Not just wins and losses but environment?

"That's a big part of it. We want them in a winning environment and have them led by players with strong leadership ability and work ethic. I'm not seeing that right now from our so-called better players.

-- Horachek's reaction

"He's excited to get the opportunity. His lifelong goal has been to be a head coach in the NHL. He's coached everywhere. He had success in Nashville. He's a no nonsense guy. He's a good communicator. We'll give him every opportunity to show his wares.

-- Was he told of this last night?

"Yes."

DALE TALLON: Firing Kevin Dineen Was Tough, Team Needs to Turn Things Around

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

BOSTON -- Dale Tallon said today that firing Kevin Dineen and his coaching staff was "one of the hardest things I've had to do" and everyone -- including himself -- was responsible for Florida's poor start to this season.

The Panthers have lost seven straight, longest since the final weeks of Pete DeBoer's time behind the bench at the end of the 2010-11 season.

DeBoer was fired the day after that season ended and Dineen was hired months later.

Peter Horachek, former Nashville assistant and San Antonio coach, is coming on in an interim basis. If things go well, he could get the gig full-time.

Former Panthers captain Brian Skrudland -- director of player development -- and former Florida center John Madden replaced Gord Murphy and Craig Ramsay as assistant coaches. Madden was in his first year as a pro scout for the Panthers and was in Nashville with the team a few weeks back to work with the centers.

Dineen was told of his firing this morning at the team hotel in downtown Ottawa. Tallon confirmed that Horachek was told of his promotion last night and he is currently traveling to Ottawa. The Panthers practice this afternoon at the University of Ottawa and Horachek is expected to have the whistle.

Dineen, Ramsay and Murphy are said to be leaving Ottawa and I haven't been able to reach them yet.

 

 

KEVIN DINEEN FIRED: Peter Horachek Comes on as New Coach

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

BOSTON -- The Panthers made an early morning move Friday as coach Kevin Dineen was fired along with assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Craig Ramsay.

Goalie coach Robb Tallas, video coach Jason Cipolla and strength and conditioning coach Craig Slaunwhite will remain on the staff.

Dineen was replaced by Peter Horachek, a former Nashville assistant who has been coaching Florida's AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Horachek will be assisted by former Florida center John Madden and former Florida captain Brian Skrudland.

Horachek is on his way to Ottawa and is expected to run this afternoon's practice in advance of his NHL head coaching debut tomorrow afternoon against the Senators.

The Panthers are winless in seven games their longest skid since the end of the 2010-11 season which led to the firing of Pete DeBoer and the hiring of Dineen.

“After 16 games it was clear that our team needed a change in philosophy and direction,” GM Dale Tallon said in a statement.

“We have not met the expectations that we set forth at training camp and it is my responsibility to make the necessary changes to ensure that our club performs at its maximum potential. We thank Kevin, Gord and Craig for their hard work and dedication to our organization and the professionalism that they displayed throughout their tenure.”

FROM THE PANTHERS:

“Peter is a bright hockey mind who brings to our club a wealth of coaching knowledge,” said Tallon. “He is a focused, determined and demanding coach who has experienced great success at all levels of competition. Both Brian and John are proven winners who won multiple Stanley Cups and are individuals that our players know very well. With these additions, we are confident that we have a staff that will work tirelessly to bring continued success to our organization.”

Horachek, 53, becomes Florida’s 12th head coach in franchise history after most recently serving as the head coach of Florida’s American Hockey League affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. Prior to working in San Antonio, Horacheck spent nine seasons with the Nashville Predators (2003-2013), serving his last two years as associate head coach. While working for the Predators, he helped the club advance to the postseason on seven occasions.

Horachek has also served as the head coach for the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals (2002-2003), ECHL’s Trenton Titans (2001-2002) and the International Hockey League’s Orlando Solar Bears (1999-2001), where he won the 2001 Turner Cup.

Skrudland, 50, has spent the last four years as the team’s director of player development. He served as Florida’s first team captain, appearing in 256 games with the Panthers (1993-97), while guiding the club to the 1996 Eastern Conference Championship and the Stanley Cup Finals.

Throughout his 15-year NHL playing career, Skrudland played in 881 career National Hockey League contests for Montreal (1985-93), Calgary (1992-93), Florida (1993-97), NY Rangers (1997-98) and Dallas (1997-2000), registering 343 points (124-219-343) and 1,107 PIM. He won Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens (1986) and Dallas Stars (1999).

After his retirement from playing at the age of 36, the Peace River, Alberta, native returned to the Flames organization as an assistant coach for three seasons (2000-2003).

Madden, 40, returned to the Panthers this season as a pro scout after helping the team win the 2011-2012 Southeast Division Championship. Throughout his 13-year playing career, Madden played for New Jersey (1998-2004 & 2005-2009), Chicago (2009-2010), Minnesota (2010-2011) and Florida (2011-2012), earning three Stanley Cup titles (New Jersey 2000 & 2003; Chicago 2010).

The Toronto, Ontario, native played in 898 career NHL games, recording 348 points (165-183-348) and 219 PIM. He was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2001. After his retirement in 2012, Madden spent one year with the Montreal Canadiens (2012-2013) serving on their scouting staff.