Now the Florida Panthers mean business!
What a turn of events here in South Florida. After missing the post season for the 20th time in 25 years, and losing their final home game of the season, all the speculation about coaching was quickly put to an end. Joel Quenneville has been officially named as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers! Just one day after bench boss Bob Boughner and assistant coach Paul McFarland were relieved of their duties, the Florida Panthers wasted no time in finding their replacement.
It has been rumored for a good portion of the season that if the Panthers were to make a change behind the bench that Coach Q would be the logical choice. With the Panthers missing the playoffs after a second consecutive slow start to the season, the Panthers have taken a major step towards improvement. This move by ownership and management proves that the Panthers are serious about winning. And not just making the playoffs, but winning the Stanley Cup! The direction, culture and attitude of the entire organEYEzation has just changed. And for the better.
Iâ€™ll get into a deeper conversation about this as time goes on, but for now letâ€™s talk about what Coach Q brings:
Instant credibilityHeâ€™s a three time Stanley Cup champion. He has 890 career wins covering three teams, and is second only to Scotty Bowman in all time wins by an NHL head coach. Heâ€™s also recorded 215 playoff victories having missed the post season only 3 times. Heâ€™s a players coach, yet demands excellence and hold players accountable. Heâ€™s not afraid to scratch a player who isnâ€™t pulling his weight, and is not afraid to staple you to the bench if youâ€™re not prepared to play. One thing for sure, Florida Panther teams will now be ready to start the season, and to start their games. There will be no tomfoolery here.
His teams have been known to play with high energy, play a puck possession style and make clean and quick zone exits. The transformation from defence to offence will be instant. The forechecking will force teams to make mistakes and backchecking will be required by the forwards if you expect to stay in the lineup. Just ask Brandon Pirri.
If Bob Boughnerâ€™s somewhat constant line changes drove you up a wall, wait till you get a taste of the Coach Q line blender. But Joel does it for a number of reasons. Whoâ€™s matching up better. Whoâ€™s having a better game, and who needs a little spark to get going. This can change not only from game to game, but from period to period. Heâ€™s known to go the the line blender to shorten the bench, and load up a top line. A little insight to his theories: Rarely did he put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together on the same line for 5 on 5. However, when he did pair them up, they were dangerous. This could be something that he does here with Mike Hoffman and Aleksander Barkov.
Why it makes sense. Players love Joel. And you will love him too. While being serious about winning, his personality is infectious, especially when things are going well. He knows how to manage a game, and gets the most out of his players. He will instantly give credibility to this team, and that alone will make it easier to attract free agents, and even get players to waive their no trade clause if needed. The Panthers need to matter, and need to be in the post season. There cannot be any more misses. While this doesnâ€™t guarantee a championship, it puts the Panthers in the best position to win one more than ever before. That right there is enough to tell you that his makes sense.
The players need to come into camp ready to play, and ready to play a lot. His Blackhawks teams were known to be in excellent shape once the season started and this makes the long haul of 82 games, plus playoffs easier to manage. Heâ€™s one of the best at giving the team time off, and is very, very animated behind the bench:
Letâ€™s not kid ourselves here, while Q is an outstanding coach, the players will need to fall in line. He will have his favorites and no doubt will fall in love with Aleksander Barkov, but there will need to be others. And donâ€™t be surprised if a former Blackhawk or two makes his way here. Troy Brouwerâ€™s chance of getting resigned have now dramatically increased. Itâ€™s no secret that Q loved both Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Andrew Shaw the fiesty forward now with the Montreal Canadiens was an integral part of the Blackhawks roster. Heâ€™s a physical forward, who isnâ€™t afraid to mix it up, and will always bring his lunch pail with him. Something the Panthers need in the forward mix. Could Hjalmarsson and Shaw be pried away? Maybe. And donâ€™t be surprised if a current veteran Blackhawks defenceman arrives as well. Pure speculation, but anything is possible. And Iâ€™m not referring to Slater Koekkoek.
Who is going to be on his staff? I would expect that former Panther assistant Mike Kitchen who is one of Qâ€™s disciples will be considered. After that itâ€™s anyoneâ€™s guess, but one thing for sure is that it will be fun to see how the staff and roster is assembled.
Stay tuned. Spring and summer are going to be interesting!
Thanks for reading.
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