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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.”

 

Comments

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How much different than Horachek's system is Trotz conserving their history? How confident do you feel in Laviolette other than saying he won a cup?

Nobody here screams "change" but we shall see. I want whatever coach can be the difference in making a top FA feel confident and play a more upbeat style of offense.

We've turned the corner but the end is far from here.

*considering

Peter Laviolette was fired from the Flyers for a terrible start and an apathetic attitude. I think Dale Tallon job is on the line. He should fire Scott Luce head of scouting for picking duds year after years in the draft.

Huberdeau took a giant step back this season. He looked lost and discouraged. Bad coaching did not help Coach should a) be nhl experienced b) patient but firm with young players c) be fiery and encouraging

One consideration in choosing a head coach will be his ability (and Tallon's, of course) to lure potential UFA's to Florida. Obviously, Viola's cash is what will ultimately draw the UFA's here, but the identity of the head coach will be a factor. Of the aforementioned candidates, does anyone know which is the best connected?

Go get Ron Wilson

This decision stinks and is unfair. Tallon was reluctant to fire his man Dineen until forced to do so, he added mistakes after that with that "interim" stupid label torturing the poor guy who gave his heart out to win with the poor Tallon team. Viola and Wilson are lemons.

Not Viola--LaViolette is teaching players to fake injuries and get penalties. Low class

I didn't agree with this decision, but I understand Horacek being the coach could cause UFA's to shy away from coming here. The Panthers need all the help they can get. Very much like the Marlins and now the Dolphins, this franchise has a culture of losing no matter who is here.

It's going to take an inspired effort by any coach and some serious money by Mr. Viola to change this deep-rooted stench of losing. They better not shy away from paying big dollars this year and years to come if they want the fans to come out and the UFA's to play for them. Not jut one year (Loria)! Year after year!

I think the Panther's need to acquire the Top 2 Defenseman available (Offensive and Stay at Home), Plus the best possible scoring Winger that they can entice to come on board.

I would be good with Trotz or Laviolette, the latter being a more proven overall winner and select Sam Bennett with the #1 pick. Please not Ekbald as D-men are never a sure thing and take time to contribute, and Reinhart while certainly productive seems more cerebral than dynamic. We need punch now!

This will entail new ownership dishing out major bucks, but that is what we were told will be the case.

With our youth and those still on the way up, I really do believe 2014-2015 can be a playoff year at the worst.

Viola-LaViolette..Viola-LaViolette…and his butt is safe!

Diving for a 5 on3 PP is not working anymore like it used to with Carolina Hurricanes-we'll end up PKing

Forget about the exciting original Bee Line that H put together and they enjoyed…break the whole job altogether ?

Torts?

Stevens would be the best fit for us. Experienced AND has an excellent track record developing young talent in both Philly and in LA. I think he wasnt quite ready to be a head coach when he was in Philly but I think now he will be an excellent head coach and we'd be lucky if we can get him. He was a finalist for the Canucks job last offseason before they hired Torts so I'm sure they'll be interested in him again.

Trotz GM Horacheck Coach the only way not to break the team, else may as well trade Boys and Bergy start from scratch again!!!

They won't play another coach system yet.

It's all about him forget the team: Tallon must go ! The sooner the better!

Sunrise chiefs want Ovi not Spezza

I wouldn't touch Torts with a 9' pole!

People get this thru your head, Ovi or Spezza or any other high quality player does NOT want to come here. We're a joke of the nhl. One playoff appearance in like 15 yrs, coach changes like every 3 yrs, worse scouting dept in the league for the past 10 yrs.

This is the new Florida GM broken record that no quality player wants to come to Florida. And Tampa? Not true- Pavel Bure was quality enough? It's about $$$

Is Spezza italian? Forget about 30 year old center retiring in Florida…Tortorella will be the worst mistake after Jovo and Tim Thomas catastrophes.

The Panthers should trade the first pick to Edmonton for the 3rd pick and a top line winger. Horachek shouldn't have been fired. Going close to .500 with the roster he had is simply amazing considering he started the season in the AHL. Trotz couldn't win with Rinne, Weber, and Sutter so what the heck could he do with Louie, Campbell, and Kulikov???

Crawford will be the best bet-he's a winner and Panthers lost each time they played against his teams . He's got the smarts not just a trainer . No decent coach will allow Kulikov to be traded away.

Scratch Trotz off the list...might end up being Crawford by process of elimination!

It 's all noise for reporters it was Tortorella, Louie's coach all along-that explains Toracheck firing plan long before. Remember the prince Luongo demands to have his own coach.

Jovo for coach!

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