The Florida Panthers have won six of seven and four straight — their longest winning streak since 2012 — but GM Dale Tallon there’s no “rush” to name interim head coach Peter Horachek the full-time bench boss.
“I don’t see why we would rush into anything. Things are going well; let’s just let things happen,” Tallon told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Of course. He’s two games over .500 on a team with 13 new faces on it. He’s done a good job.”
After starting the season 3-9-4 under Kevin Dineen, Florida has gone 10-8-1 under Horachek and — thanks to the snail race that is the Eastern Conference playoff picture — finds itself just six points back of Toronto for the eighth seed, with a game in hand.
(Florida made up some ground on Wednesday, beating the Leafs 3-1 in Toronto.)
Some would argue that in itself is enough to shed Horachek’s interim label. Some players had soured on Dineen (see here) and Dineen didn’t seem pleased with how things ended (see here), meaning Horachek not only inherited a bad situation, but also turned it around in a hurry.
Not that he hasn’t had help.
Rookie forward Nick Bjugstad has been great since the coaching change, scoring 10 points in 19 games. Scottie Upshall has also been solid, racking up six goals and 12 points in the month of November. Tomas Fleischmann, who suffered through one of the worst slumps of his career this season, has six points in eight December games.
Horachek said he’d love to be rewarded for this success, but acknowledged more wins need to occur.
“Down deep, do you want things to progress further and [have] a longer future? Yes,” he said. “You can’t control that.
“In this situation, our guys are in a better place and they’re working at it and they’re believers now. The next step is to keep winning.”