Updates from Tuesday, May 6
TSN's Darren Dreger has the latest on the Panthers' coaching search:
Horachek was given the interim tag and took over head coaching duties in November after Kevin Dineen was fired in the midst of a nine-game losing streak. The Panthers finished the season 26-36-4 under Horachek to conclude the year with the second-worst record in the NHL.
What's more, Florida ranked 29th in the league in goals per game (2.3) and goals against (3.2). Even worse, the Panthers ranked dead last in power-play percentage (10.0) and penalty-kill percentage (76.0).
Executive vice president and general manager Dale Tallon explained the decision to move in a different direction, via the team's official website:
Peter worked very diligently since taking over as interim head coach in November, but at this time we feel that a fresh approach and a new direction is needed behind our bench. We will immediately begin an extensive search for a new and experienced coach for our franchise, who will guide the Panthers to future success. We once again thank Peter for all of his hard work and service and wish him the best in his future endeavors.
Tallon spoke more a press conference following the announcement (via George Richards of the Miami Herald):
Florida is interested in hiring an experienced coach, but it's unlikely Tallon will decide until after the World Hockey Champs...— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 5, 2014
#FlaPanthers Dale Tallon: We're going to get the best coach with the most experience probably. Peter Laviolette on the list.— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) April 29, 2014
#FlaPanthers Dale Tallon: Barry Trotz is one hell of a coach.— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) April 29, 2014
#FlaPanthers Dale Tallon: We're not starting over. We have a lot of young pieces, going to add veterans.— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) April 29, 2014
Regardless of who Tallon brings in this offseason, the new face will be asked to carry out the tall task of turning around a perennial NHL bottom dweller and changing the culture in Sunrise, Florida.
The Panthers have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs just once since the start of the 2000-01 season and haven't been past the first round since they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Finals back in 1996.
Although Horachek was unable to capitalize on his first NHL head coaching opportunity, there's a good chance the 54-year-old will land on his feet, as pointed out by Nashville Predators beat writer Jim Diamond:
Dale Tallon says list of potential #FlaPanthers coaches is long and he wants to interview a lot of them. Looking for NHL experience.— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) April 29, 2014
Horachek was a longtime assistant under Barry Trotz, who coached the Predators for the past 15 seasons before being fired on April 14.
As Sportsnet's Josh Rimer notes, Horachek is just the latest in a long list of fired NHL head coaches:
Peter Horachek is a good guy. I hope for the best for him. Would not be shocked if he and Trotz are reunited wherever Barry lands.— Jim Diamond (@diamondhockey) April 29, 2014
At this stage, it appears that Horachek is better off than the Panthers, who lack not only a head coach, but the star power, leadership and tradition to assist in luring in big names in free agency.
Plus, with only eight playoff spots available for the 16 competing teams in the Eastern Conference, it doesn't appear Florida will be in contention for the Cup in 2014-15.
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