SUNRISE, Fla. – On the day he was introduced as the Florida Panthers’ new head coach, Kevin Dineen couldn’t help but talk about basketball. Especially about the Miami Heat.
“I happened to be in town last night and I was able to feel that buzz that’s around the Heat right now,” he said. “That’s what I look forward to for the Panthers.”
Dineen was formally introduced Wednesday as the franchise’s 11th head coach. He replaces Pete DeBoer, who was fired on April 10, a day after completing his third season behind the Florida bench.
Like DeBoer, this will be Dineen’s first NHL job as head coach.
“I like to think outside the box and take risks … this is not a risk,” said general manager Dale Tallon. “I’m really charged up that Kevin has accepted the challenge to come here and help us win a Stanley Cup.”
Dineen spent the past six seasons as head coach of the Portland Pirates of the AHL. He compiled a mark of 266-155-59 and led the Pirates to the playoffs in five of the six seasons. He had a winning percentage of .616, the best in that club’s history.
As a player, he scored 355 goals in parts of 19 seasons with the Hartford/Carolina franchise, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Columbus.
He’s from a family with a long hockey bloodline.
His father, Bill, played and coached in the NHL and his brothers Gord and Peter also were NHL players. Another brother, Shawn, is a scout for the Nashville Predators.
Dineen takes over a team coming off a 72-point season and a last place finish in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers also have missed the playoffs a league-record 10 consecutive seasons.
Tallon feels confident he’s picked the right coach to turn things around.
“We talked to a lot of people about our opening and the minute I met Kevin, I knew he was the guy,” he said. “You look into his eyes, you can see the passion, you can see the caring, compassion, integrity, class, dignity, all those things that we want our players to be like.
“This is the right man for the job. I’m excited about our future now.”