Florida Panthers Fire Kevin Dineen, Peter Horachek Named Interim Head Coach

After an underwhelming 3-9-4 start to begin their 2013-2014 campaign, Florida Panthers’ General Manager Dale Tallon announced on Friday that the team has fired Head Coach Kevin Dineen after just over two seasons with the club.  In addition to Dineen, both assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Craig Ramsay have also been relieved of their duties.

“After 16 games it was clear that our team needed a change in philosophy and direction,” said Tallon in the team’s press release. “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.”

Praised for helping end the Panthers’ 12-year playoff drought in just his first year with the club, Dineen had since coached the team to an abysmal 26-40-16 record in his 82 last games.

With Dineen no longer in command, the Panthers will turn to current San Antonio Rampage Head Coach Peter Horachek. Although he has no experience as a head coach in the NHL, Horachek is hardly a coaching neophyte, nor new to the world of professional hockey.  Prior to coaching the Rampage, Horachek spent nine seasons working in the NHL for the Nashville Predators, serving his last two years as an Associate Head Coach. Prior to joining the Nashville coaching staff, Horachek 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). During his stint with the Orlando Solar Bears, Horachek tasted championship success as the team was able to take home the Turner Cup in 2001.

Up until this point, Horachek had coached the Rampage to a 4-6-1 record in his first season with the club. Joining Horachek’s NHL coaching staff will be former Panther Brian Skrudland who was most recently the team’s Director of Player Development and current Panther scout John Madden who last played in the NHL during the 2011 playoffs with the Panthers.

“Peter (Horachek) 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.”

With a new coaching staff in place, look for Tallon to now assess the team’s roster shortcomings as the Panthers’ look to climb out of the cellar of the Eastern Conference.

“It’s easier to fire a coach than to fire 23 players,” Tallon said of the team’s questionable roster. “We’re on the phone constantly and we’re going to to make changes as we go. We want players who want to be Panthers, and if they don’t want to be, we’ll accommodate them…This is just the beginning of our changes that need to be made. If the players don’t respond to this, well, they won’t be Panthers very long. ”

With the new coaching staff set to make their debut in Ottawa this Saturday and lackadaisical players now put on notice, it seems that although the seasons won’t be changing this winter in South Florida, the Panthers certainly will be.

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