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3 posts from April 29, 2014

April 29, 2014

PETER HORACHEK FIRED: Who Is Next for Florida Panthers?

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Dale Tallon is once again searching for a new coach for the Florida Panthers.

Plenty of NHL coaching experience is a requisite.

Tallon fired interim coach Peter Horachek on Tuesday, citing Horachek's lack of said experience. Prior to replacing Kevin Dineen on Nov. 8, Horachek spent nine seasons as an assistant in Nashville.

Barry Trotz, recently fired as coach of the Predators, is thought to be near the top of Tallon's wish list. Trotz, the only head coach in Nashville's history and one of Horachek's closest friends, is expected to be courted by a number of teams.

"Barry Trotz is a hell of a coach,'' Tallon said when prompted.

Said Horachek: "He's been a very successful coach for 15 years in Nashville and I think he'll be quickly scooped up. If he was given the opportunity and thought [Florida] was best for him, I would wish him all the best in that. Absolutely. I wish him nothing but the best. Let the chips fall where they may. I wish Dale and the Panthers nothing but the best. I hope things go well.''

Former Philadelphia and Carolina coach Peter Laviolette is also on Tallon's radar. Laviollette won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and took the Flyers to the Cup Finals in 2010 where they lost to the Blackhawks.

Tallon reiterated that he didn't speak with Laviolette when Dineen was fired. Former Panthers assistant GM Mike Santos previously said Horachek -- who had been coaching Florida's minor league team at the time -- was the only one considered.

Other former NHL head coaches on the market include:

Guy Boucher (led Tampa Bay to Eastern Conference finals in 2011); Ron Wilson (fired by Toronto in 2012 but has coached in 1,401 games with four teams); John Stevens (led Flyers to Eastern Conference finals in 2008 and is an assistant in Los Angeles); and Terry Murray (coached the Panthers from 1998-2000 and is currently in the AHL).

More could become available in the coming weeks.

"We felt as a group that this wasn't quite the right fit in the direction we're headed in,'' Tallon said.

"We probably need someone with more NHL coaching experience heading down the road. The past few coaches we've had have had no NHL coaching experience and as a group we needed to find someone with more coaching experience. We're going to identify the guys who are available and find the guy who has the most experience probably.''

Horachek, who is no longer with the organization, was told of his fate by Tallon on Tuesday morning. Tallon said he made the decision a few days ago.

"I thought my chances were 50-50 on coming back,'' Horachek said from his home in Fort Lauderdale.

"I thought if they knew for sure, they would have made a decision right away. I'm disappointed but the decision has to be made. I'll get another opportunity somewhere. I'm grateful for the chance to do it here. I'll get a chance to be a head coach in this league again. I take nothing but positives from my time here.''

The 12th coach in franchise history but the first with the interim tag since John Torchetti in 2004, Horachek -- hired last summer to coach Florida's minor league team in San Antonio -- lost his first two road games behind the Florida bench before upsetting Anaheim on Nov. 12 in Sunrise.

The Panthers played well for a time and won five straight and seven of eight in early December.

Florida was 21-24-7 after winning in Detroit on Jan. 26, but then lost five of six going into the Olympic break.

“He did a good job, came in and worked hard and tried to turn things around,” Tallon said of Horachek's brief tenure.

“It's tough to come in during the season and try and turn things around. But he did a good job.”

The Panthers -- who had the league's worst power play and penalty kill units -- finished the season with mostly younger players as they ran out the string, winning just two of the final nine games.

"I wanted to be part of the development of the young players and see the growth of them,'' Horachek said. "That's a disappointment. You can see some of the talent here, you can see the possibilities that can come forth if you do the right thing. You would like to continue the process over the long haul. That would have been a very exciting thing.''

Florida ended 29th of 30 teams but won the draft lottery and hold the top overall pick. The draft will be held June 27-28 in Philadelphia.

Tallon said he would like to have an experienced coach hired by then as it's expected the hiring process won't take much longer than a month.

Dineen was officially introduced by the Panthers on June 1, 2011.

Florida’s past three coaches – Peter DeBoer, Dineen and Horachek – came to the Panthers without ever being the head coach in an NHL game.

DeBoer came from the Canadian junior leagues and was hired by former GM Jacques Martin; Dineen coached in the American Hockey League and was hired by Tallon.

“We’re going to interview every possible candidate, take our time and make the best decision,” Tallon said. “However long it takes – if we decide to do it tomorrow, it’s tomorrow. I don't foresee that happening. We're going to interview a lot of candidates.”

 

PETER HORACHEK: Disappointed He's Not Returning, Wishes Florida Panthers Well in Future

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

 

I spoke with former Panthers coach Peter Horachek this afternoon just a few hours after he was let go by the team.

Horachek didn't have one bad thing to say about the organization although it's obvious he wishes he had the opportunity to continue coaching them.

Horachek, who lives in downtown Fort Lauderdale, said he spoke with Barry Trotz before Dale Tallon called with the news and again afterward. Horachek says his good pal will "get scooped up pretty quickly" and that Florida would be lucky to have him -- if that's how things go down.

Here's what Peter had to say:

 

"I knew there would be a decision made. I thought my chances were 50-50 on coming back. I thought if they knew for sure, they would have made a decision right away.

"I'm disappointed but the decision has to be made.

"I'll get another opportunity somewhere. I'm grateful for the chance to do it here. I'll get a chance to be a head coach in this league again. I take nothing but positives from my time here.

 

On last season:

"I don't think as a coach you're ever completely happy with the way things went. It takes a while to get to know the personnel, takes a while to have the staff to get to know each other. It took some time.

"You just want to see some energy, some structure. That was the first thing to happen. I think a lot of that happened. That was a positive. The special teams were a disappointment. With that, different factors happened.

"Once you got to the trade deadline and Goc and Weaver were traded, we were looking at using the experience of young players and giving guys an opportunity. We were close to .500. You just have to say 'what do we need.'

"It would be exciting for me to move forward with this team, to be part of the development and growth and part of the process.

"I don't know how many years it will be before you're legitimately fighting for a Stanley Cup but it can be done pretty quickly if you make the right choices and make the right decisions. We're taking a few years for sure.

 

On wanting to be part of the Panthers' future:

"That's obviously the biggest disappointment. I didn't come into the season thinking we would win the Stanley Cup this year. I didn't think the team was there.

"But I wanted to be part of the development of the young players and see the growth of them. That's a disappointment.

"You can see some of the talent here, you can see the possibilities that can come forth if you do the right thing. You would like to continue the process over the long haul. That would have been a very exciting thing.

These things don't happen sometimes. You can't look back, make excuses. You just have to move forward to build and grow. You have to have a growth analysis and move forwrd. I always look forward and see where I'm going as a coach.

"I don't dwell on negatives. I got a chance to coach. You want the opportunity to continue with them, but decisions are made for the betterment of the team and they have to make them.

"I'll move on to the next situation and I believe in myself and what I'm capable of doing. I'll move onto the next stage and appreciate the chance Dale and the ownership gave me.

"I'll move on and wish them all the best.

 

On Barry Trotz:

"I talk to him all the time, in fact we spoke twice today; once at 7 this morning before I got the news. I talked to him a few days ago, spoke once a week during the season to see how things were going for him.

"When something like this happens, there are a lot of calls and you have to get back to a lot of people.

Barry will obviously have a great opportunity. He's been a very successful coach for 15 years in Nashville and I think he'll be quickly scooped up.

"If he was given the opportunity and thought [Florida] was best for him, I would wish him all the best in that. "Absolutely. I wish him nothing but the best. Let the chips fall where they may. I wish Dale and the Panthers nothing but the best. I hope things go well. They have great young players like Barkov, Bjugstad, Shore .-.-. I hope they develop into star players. They are good players now, but I think they will be stars.

 

 

 

HORACHEK FIRED: Panthers Begin Search for 'Experienced' NHL Coach; Trotz, Laviolette Possibilities for Job

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Panthers fired interim coach Peter Horachek on Tuesday after less than one season behind the bench in Florida.

Horachek was brought into the organization last summer to coach Florida's AHL team in San Antonio but was promoted when Kevin Dineen and his coaching staff was fired in November.
 
Although the Panthers showed some signs of life under Horachek and his new coaching staff, the team still finished 29th in the 30 team league and will begin its search for a new coach immediately.
 
General manager Dale Tallon said he made the decision to replace Horachek a few days ago and told him the news on Tuesday. Horachek, Tallon said, took the news with class and "understood" that Tallon is looking for a coach with more NHL coaching experience.
 
The two coaches on the market who immediately fit that bill include former Philadelphia and Carolina coach Peter Laviolette as well as former longtime Nashville coach Barry Trotz. Horachek worked for Trotz for nine seasons with the Predators.
 
"Barry Trotz is a hell of a coach,'' Tallon said when asked about him.
 
More NHL coaches could be looking for work in the coming weeks with Tallon saying his list of potential candidates is long. Florida's next coach will be the 13th in franchise history.
 
"We felt as a group that this wasn't quite the right fit in the direction we're headed in,'' Tallon told reporters on an afternoon conference call.
 
"We felt we probably need someone with more NHL coaching experience heading down the road. The past few coaches we've had have had no NHL coaching experience and as a group we needed to find someone with more coaching experience. We're going to identify the guys who are available and find the guy who has the most experience probably.''
 
Horachek was 26-36-4 this season after taking over for Dineen in November when the team was 3-9-4 and riding a seven game losing streak.
 
Tallon said Horachek is no longer with the Florida organization.
 
"He did a good job, came in and worked hard and tried to turn things around,'' Tallon said. "Things went well early and kind of faded at the end. We made some trades at the deadline to become younger and get some assets moving forward so it's never easy. It's tough to come in during the season and try and turn things around. But he did a good job.''
 
Florida's past three coaches -- Peter DeBoer, Dineen and Horachek -- came to the Panthers without being the head coach in an NHL game.
 
DeBoer came from the Canadian junior leagues and was hired by former GM Jacques Martin; Dineen had coached in the American Hockey League and was hired by Tallon.
 
Tallon said he would like to have a new coach in place by the time the draft rolls around at the end of June. Dineen was hired by Tallon in May of 2011.
 
"We're going to interview every possible candidate, take our time and make the best decision,'' Tallon said. "However long it takes -- if we decide to do it tomorrow, it's tomorrow. I don't foresee that happening. We're going to interview a lot of candidates.''
 
-- Tallon said the new coach would "have a lot of influence on who his assistants will be," but added that he would like to retain John Madden and Brian Skrudland after they joined Horachek's staff in November.
 
Madden had been in his first year as a scout with the Panthers and Skrudland -- Florida's first captain in 1993 -- has one year left on his contract and could return to working in the organization's player development program.
 
"I will make recommendations that we keep them if possible,'' Tallon said.