It’s a name from the 1980s and 1990s for many NHL fans but Kevin Dineen is about to become the next Florida Panthers head coach. George Richards from On Frozen Pond gets confirmation that tomorrow afternoon’s press conference in Florida is going to be for the introduction of Dineen as the team’s 11th head coach. Considering the Panthers have been around for 18 years, that number lacks some gravitas but for Dineen it’s an opportunity long in coming.
Dineen has been working as the head coach of the AHL Portland Pirates and has done well managing the team since 2005. Often a candidate in the past Dineen’s name has been dropped into conversation over the last couple of years but finally he’ll get his shot to manage an NHL team and one that’s rather curiously put together thanks to GM Dale Tallon. In his first season as Pirates coach he won the AHL coach of the year award. Coaching a team that had Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Shane O’Brien, and Dustin Penner helped make that a little easier as the Pirates were the Ducks minor league team then. Since 2008-2009 the Pirates have been the Buffalo Sabres affiliate.
With scorers like Stephen Weiss and David Booth with a host of prospects in the pipeline waiting for their day to become NHLers Dineed will have his work cut out for him. Weiss was the team’s leading scorer last season with 49 points.
Of course, Dineen will have to make something out of this roster and with the possibility that they may be losing their best players, goalie Tomas Vokoun, to free agency this summer he’s got a mountain of a challenge laying ahead for him. Hockey’s Future ranked out the Panthers system as fourth best in the NHL back in November. They’re an organization loaded with goaltending and defensive depth with guys like Jacob Markstrom looking like the future in goal and their first round pick from a year ago, Erik Gudbranson, holding the keys to their blue line future.
Dineen has to hope that Tallon dips into the free agent spending this year (wisely, there are a lot of land mines out there to be had) to help him out in the short term or that he’s got some coaching magic that can make something out of a lot of nothing.