Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lost in the shuffle, Florida Panthers introduce a new head coach

I'll make this short and sweet...because: let's face it, 99% of South Florida doesn't even care about hockey right now. In fact, I may be THE only one who cares. But, you'll be thanking me for writing this story when the Panthers reach the Stanley Cup Finals! (Eventually!)

SUNRISE- The Florida Panthers introduced their new head coach, Kevin Dineen, on Wednesday afternoon at a press conference in the Chairman's Club at BankAtlantic Center. While this is Dineen's first NHL head coaching job, the 47 year old has led the Portland Pirates of the AHL to a record of 266-155-59 with a .616 winning percentage, the best in the franchise’s history. During this tenure with Portland, his teams won at least 40 games in four of out six seasons, won a pair of division titles (05-06 & 10-11) and advanced to the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals twice (05-06 & 07-08). (per the Florida Panthers press release)

“It is with great pleasure that I welcome Kevin Dineen to the Florida Panthers organization,” said Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon. “Kevin brings to our organization more than 25 years of playing and coaching experience. He played in more than 1,100 National Hockey League games and is one of only seven players in the league’s history to score more than 350 goals, while registering more than 2,000 penalty minutes."

Dineen's playing career is highlighted by two stints with the Hartford Whalers. He scored the final goal in Whalers history, on the same day Tiger Woods won his first Masters title in 1997. Dineen also played for the Philadelphia Flyers, where he was coached by his father for a season. He moved with the Whalers to their new home in Carolina (Hurricanes) after the 1996-97 season. Dineen then played for the Ottawa Senators before concluding his career in with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He played 1,188 games over his 19 year career, and also served as captain for Hartford, Philadelphia, and Carolina.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

CAT BYTES:  The Panthers re-signed Jack Skille to a 2 year contract and have signed Garrett Wilson and Roman Derlyuk to entry level contacts. the forward was acquired in February from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Michel Frolik.

Derlyuk is 24 years old, like Skille. The defenseman was selected by Florida in the 6th round of the 2005 draft and most recently played for Moscow of the KHL.

The 20 year old Wilson played for the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL. The 2009 4th round selection led his team to the Memorial Cup and scored 40 goals, adding 46 assists last season.

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