With the words "This is a great day for Florida Panthers hockey", General Manager Dale Tallon announced that Kevin Dineen has been hired as the eleventh head coach in Florida Panthers history. He will replace former head coach Pete DeBoer, who was let go in April at the end of his third season with the Panthers. Dineen has been head coach of the AHL's Portland Pirates for the last six seasons, with a record of 266-155-59-.616.
The Pirates have been affiliated with both the Anaheim Ducks and Buffalo Sabres during Dineen's tenure, so he coached notable NHL players like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry as well as current Panthers Tim Kennedy, Ryan Carter and Clay Wilson. Prior to his work with the Pirates, Dineen played 19 seasons for the Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets. As a player, he earned the distinction of being one of a select few players to score over 350 goals and earn over 2000 penalty minutes.
Dineen is known as an intelligent, tough coach, who will, in the words of New York Islanders forward Zenon Konopka, "give [a player] some leash" but will "turn it into a whip pretty quick" if necessary. Dineen's teams are also known for their hard work, speed and physicality, traits that Tallon has repeatedly said he expects from his team. For his part, Dale Tallon said that Dineen brings "tremendous passion" and that although they interviewed a lot of candidates for the job, "the minute I met Kevin, I knew he was the guy."
Our players are going to love playing for Kevin. We want our players to learn, we want our players to care and we want our players to play hard every shift of every game and no one personifies that more than the new head coach of the Florida Panthers, Kevin Dineen. - Dale Tallon
Dineen described himself as excited and a little anxious to get right to work. He noticed the atmosphere in Miami right now, saying, "I was able to be here last night to feel that buzz that's around the Heat right now and that's what I look forward to with the Florida Panthers." When asked about the "uncertainties" surrounding the roster, he preferred to think of them as an opportunity to "grow something" and bring in new players.
When asked , he stated that he believes his style is flexible, but he believes in puck possession and thinks execution is important. He believes that teams need to practice their system so players can get the puck on their teammates' stick and describes himself as a "stickler for the details." He also stressed the need for players to have a "work ethic on a consistent basis."
When asked about Dineen's lack of NHL coaching experience and their lack of history together, Tallon described the hire as a "calculated risk," but also emphasized that he's followed Dineen's career for years and that in the team's due diligence they didn't encounter a bad word from any team he played or worked for. Tallon also says he's "charged up" about working with Dineen.
The mood here at LBC is pretty positive. Dineen's teams are noted for the kind of play that Tallon has said he likes and that the fans here have been asking to see for years. In addition, Tallon will not hesitate to trade players who don't fit the style and work ethic of the team he's building in favor of ones who do. Dineen has, by all accounts, done a terrific job with some good young prospects for Anaheim and Buffalo and should do the same here in Florida.
Note: Video of the press conference is not yet available, but audio has been supplied by the club here (about 8 minutes).