In case you missed it, earlier this morning the Florida Panthers fired head coach Kevin Dineen as well as assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Craig Ramasy. San Antonio Rampage head coach Peter Horachek will replace Dineen as the head coach and John Madden and Brian Skrudland will serve as the assistants.
The Panthers hired Horachek, 53, this offseason to be the head coach of their AHL affiliate the San Antonio Rampage. Horachek spent the last nine seasons with the Nashville Predators. During his last two years in Nashville, Horachek was the team’s associate head coach.mIn addition to the Rampage this season, Horachek’s head coaching experience includes AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals (2002-03), ECHL’s Trenton Titans (2001-02), and the IHL’s Orlando Solar Bears (1999-01).
As a player, Horachek never cracked the NHL but he had a long career playing in the minors, mostly the AHL and IHL, in the late seventies and eighties. He has been coaching since 1987-88 when he was an assistant for the IHL’s Saginaw Hawks. Here is Panther GM Dale Tallon on his new coaches:
“Peter 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.”
Here is some background on Skrudland and Madden courtesy of the Florida Panthers:
Skrudland, 50, has spent the last four years as the team’s director of player development. He served as Florida’s first team captain, appearing in 256 games with the Panthers (1993-97), while guiding the club to the 1996 Eastern Conference Championship and the Stanley Cup Finals.
Throughout his 15-year NHL playing career, Skrudland played in 881 career National Hockey League contests for Montreal (1985-93), Calgary (1992-93), Florida (1993-97), NY Rangers (1997-98) and Dallas (1997-2000), registering 343 points (124-219-343) and 1,107 PIM. He won Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens (1986) and Dallas Stars (1999).
After his retirement from playing at the age of 36, the Peace River, Alberta, native returned to the Flames organization as an assistant coach for three seasons (2000-2003).
Madden, 40, returned to the Panthers this season as a pro scout after helping the team win the 2011-2012 Southeast Division Championship. Throughout his 13-year playing career, Madden played for New Jersey (1998-2004 & 2005-2009), Chicago (2009-2010), Minnesota (2010-2011) and Florida (2011-2012), earning three Stanley Cup titles (New Jersey 2000 & 2003) and Chicago (2010).
The Toronto, Ontario, native played in 898 career NHL games, recording 348 points (165-183-348) and 219 PIM. He was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2001. After his retirement in 2012, Madden spent one year with the Montreal Canadiens (2012-2013) serving on their scouting staff.
I find it worth noting that the Panther brought both John Madden and Peter Horachek into the organization this offseason. I do not think that the Panthers planned on firing Kevin Dineen midseason but it was definitely a scenario that Dale Tallon could have been imagined this offseason without much difficulty. Dineen was also in the last year of his contract so even if he stuck around for the entire season, the Panthers may have decided to go a different direction in the off-season anyway, especially with brand new owners taking control.
What I am getting at is during this past summer, a coaching change at some point down the road would not have seemed too farfetched and Tallon and co. planned accordingly. Bringing in Horachek to coach the Rampage was a definite vote of non-confidence in Dineen. Horachek was one of those guys with whom the question was never IF he would become an NHL head coach, but WHEN. Having Horachek in the minors gave the organization the flexibility to make a move like firing Dineen.
Same thing goes for John Madden. The announcement this offseason that Madden had joined the organization as a pro scout seemed pretty innocuous at the time but now it appears that some tiny part of the reasoning behind bringing Madden in had to do with the possibility that the team might make a coaching change and if such an event were to happen, Madden would make a good replacement.
I am not saying that the Panthers planned on firing Dineen back in July but they were smart enough to realize it was an option and they were smart enough to have a back up plan in place should they let Dineen go.