Skip to main content

Panthers Coach Andrew Brunette Deserves to Lose Interim Tag

After leading the Florida Panthers to their first playoff series victory since 1996, Andrew Brunette may have earned himself the right to have the “interim” moniker removed from his coaching status.
Andrew Brunette

After leading the Florida Panthers to their first playoff series victory since 1996, Andrew Brunette may have earned himself the right to have the “interim” moniker removed from his coaching status.

Brunette’s head coaching run began this season in an unceremonious fashion following the resignation of former Panthers’ head coach Joel Quenneville. The long-time NHL head coach stepped down after his role in the cover-up surrounding the sexual assault of former NHL player Kyle Beach came to light this season. Beach was the victim of sexual abuse during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs while Quenneville was his coach with the Chicago Blackhawks.

With Quenneville gone and Brunette at the helm, the Panthers won the franchise’s first-ever Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s regular-season champs, and have advanced beyond the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1996, and only second time in franchise history.

When Brunette took over, the Panthers were 7-0-0, but he managed to guide the team through adversity this year, including a late-season stretch without franchise defenceman Aaron Ekblad. Now, he has the Panthers into the second round.

With this success, is it too early for Florida GM Bill Zito to consider removing Brunette’s “interim” tag?

A veteran of 1,109 NHL games, and with nearly a decade of hockey operations and coaching jobs under his belt between the Panthers and Minnesota Wild, Brunette is qualified. The expectation, however, for the top team in the NHL regular season would be to win more than a single round in the playoffs.

The task will not be easy, as the Panthers are poised to play the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Other interim coaches this season in the NHL have been unable to secure the job including Mike Yeo of the Philadelphia Flyers and Dave Lowry with the Winnipeg Jets. Neither Yeo or Lowry were able to coach their respective teams to the playoffs.

Martin St. Louis looks like he’ll lose his “interim” tag with the Montreal Canadiens, while Chicago Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson has stated his interim coach, Derek King, remains in the running for the job. Alongside Brunette in round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs is Edmonton Oilers interim head coach Jay Woodcroft, whose future also remains unclear.

While nothing is certain, Andrew Brunette leading the Florida Panthers to their first ever Presidents’ Trophy, and a spot in the playoffs they have not reached since 1996 bodes well for his return to the Panthers bench as head coach, without the interim tag, next season.

TOP HEADLINES

Pierre-Luc Dubois

Rangers, Canadiens Linked to Pierre-Luc Dubois

Pierre-Luc Dubois' reported intention to test the 2024 unrestricted free-agent market generated anxiety among Winnipeg Jets followers and created a stir in the rumor mill. It didn't take long for reports to emerge linking the 24-year-old center to other clubs.

Ivan Fedotov

Report: Flyers Goalie Ivan Fedotov Detained for Alleged Draft Dodging

According to reports out of Russia, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Ivan Fedotov has been detained in St. Petersburg for alleged evasion of military service.

Jim Montgomery

Jim Montgomery Named Boston Bruins Head Coach

The Boston Bruins are likely to hire Jim Montgomery as the team's 29th head coach, according to reports.