Paul Maurice Hired as Florida Panthers Head Coach, Replaces Andrew Brunette

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 2022

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets looks on from the bench during their NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena November 19, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
Jeff Vinnick

The Florida Panthers have a new head coach.

On Wednesday, the NHL announced the Eastern Conference team hired Paul Maurice for the vacant position. There was an opening after TSN's Darren Dreger reported earlier Wednesday that interim coach Andrew Brunette was out.

Dreger also noted that "Maurice is believed to be in the process of being hired."

It comes as something of a surprise that the Panthers moved on from Brunette, who took over in October after Joel Quenneville resigned. Quenneville, who previously coached the Chicago Blackhawks, resigned amid an investigation into Chicago's mishandling of sexual assault allegations in 2010.

Florida went 51-18-6 under Brunette and finished with the league's best record and the Presidents' Trophy. He was also a Jack Adams Award finalist for the league's coach of the year.

However, much of that momentum dissipated when the Tampa Bay Lightning swept the team in the second round of the playoffs.

Pierre LeBrun of TSN reported Brunette could remain with the Panthers in a different role, though he suggested he would be "surprised" if that ended up happening.

Maurice is a veteran coach who is fourth in NHL history with 1,685 regular-season games and seventh in league history with 775 wins. He has coached the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets and had been with the Jets since the 2013-14 campaign.

That tenure ended when he stepped down after 29 games this season.

Winnipeg went 315-224-62 with five playoff appearances under Maurice but failed to make the postseason in 2021-22.

Maurice takes over a talented Panthers team that figures to be on the short list of realistic contenders for the Stanley Cup in 2022-23 after such an impressive regular season under Brunette.