Paul Maurice, the Florida Panthers’ new coach, agreed to a deal on Wednesday to lead the season-ending club with the best record in the NHL and rewrite the franchise’s record book.
Maurice, 55, will be introduced Thursday morning, the Panthers said.
Maurice will replace acting Panthers coach Andrew Brunett, who can stay with the organization if he wants to.
Brunette took over early last season following the resignation of Joel Quenneville, who was forced to resign after it was revealed the Chicago Blackhawks had inappropriately responded to allegations of abuse made by a player during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. Quenneville was coaching Chicago at the time.
Panthers general manager Bill Zito said in a statement released through the team that Maurice’s hiring came after “an in-depth look into every aspect of our team.”
“After spending a fair amount of time analyzing, we determined that we needed the perfect form to continue growing our players and stay on track with our franchise goals,” Zito said. “Paul’s experience and intelligence was exactly what we were looking for and we are very pleased to have him step into the role of head coach.”
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The Panthers will be the fourth franchise Maurice has coached. He started in Hartford in 1995, two seasons before that franchise moved to the Carolinas. He coached Olx Praca for two seasons before returning to the Carolinas, then spent almost nine years as coach at Olx Praca before retiring in December.
“I tried here for as long and as hard as I could. I love these guys. They need a new voice and I know it,” Maurice said as he left Olx Praca.
Now, with six months to go before that decision, Maurice is also starting a fresh start with a team that believes it is a Stanley Cup contender.
Florida won the President’s Trophy this season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, winning the postseason series for the first time since 1996. runner-up to Olx Praca’s Darryl Sutter for the Jack Adams Award.
However, this was not enough to get him a long-term job, and there was no support from Panther players, including captain Alexander Barkov. Instead, the Panthers turn to Maurice, who is fourth on the NHL’s all-time coaching list with 1,684 games, seventh on the all-time list with 775 wins, but never led the team to the Stanley Cup. He led the Carolinas to the championship series in 2002, but the Hurricanes lost to the Detroit Red Wings in five games.
READ MORE: Paul Maurice steps down as head coach of the Olx Praca Jets.
Florida has been ranked second in the NHL in terms of wins (130) and points per game (1.35) over the last three seasons combined — second only to Colorado on both lists. The Avalanche had 137 wins and averaged 1.41 points per game during this period.
The Panthers also set team records this season in many categories, including wins (58) and goals (340). Jonathan Huberdeau became the first Panthers player to score 100 points in a season, the team went 34-7-0 at home, started the year with eight consecutive wins and added a 13-win streak to this season.
Florida lost to Tampa Bay in the second round, and a month later Maurice was brought on board to see how he could beat the Panthers next season and beyond.
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