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You’re hired: Panthers, Wild name assistant coaches

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The Florida Panthers and Minnesota Wild have added to their coaching staffs.

The Panthers announced on Saturday the hiring of Paul McFarland as an assistant coach on Bob Boughner’s staff. McFarland is only 31 years old, which is relatively youthful in the coaching ranks, but he has spent the last three years as the head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs.

He is a year removed from helping guide Kingston to a 46-17-0-5 record.

“In three seasons as a head coach in Kingston, Paul’s team has not missed the playoffs,” said Boughner in a statement. “He is young, intelligent and can relate to our team’s young core.”

Less than a full month after Scott Stevens resigned as an assistant coach in Minnesota, the Wild have named Bob Woods to the position, making it official on Saturday.

Woods spent last season as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres. It was recently reported that organization would not be bringing back their assistants for next season, providing Woods the opportunity to look elsewhere in the league for an opportunity.

There is quite a familiarity between Woods and Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau.

Per the Wild, Woods has worked as an assistant with Boudreau on three previous occasions, most recently with the Anaheim Ducks from 2012 to 2014.

‘I feel I needed a change,’ says former Coyotes coach Tippett

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Dave Tippett has spoken, offering insight into why he felt it was time for him and the Arizona Coyotes to go their separate ways.

The move comes just days after it was revealed the Coyotes, based on a decision from owner Andrew Barroway, would not be bringing back Shane Doan, the team’s captain since 2003 and an original member of the franchise from its days in Winnipeg prior to relocation.

That decision, it can certainly be argued, was one that needed to be made. Doan is in his 40s, had a down season and was a pending unrestricted free agent. But the manner in which the situation was handled has garnered criticism from many.

In conversation with the Arizona Republic, Tippett reiterated one particular theme for Thursday’s decision. He mentioned a number of issues — ownership, arena, etc. — that have plagued the franchise over the years and that a change was necessary.

“It’s been a long go here trying to keep things going, and now with the change of ownership again – or change of direction again – the instability of the rink and stuff, it just seemed like the right time for them and for me,” Tippett said. “There’s nothing I could put my finger on. Just time for a change.”

He continued:

“You feel it’s time for a change,” Tippett said. “I feel like I needed a change now. Seemed like the right time with ownership changing and Doaner and Smitty – not that those are excuses. But just a lot of things built up and just time to try something new.”

This season seemed to be particularly frustrating for Tippett. With the Coyotes going through a well-known youth movement, their coach was, on a number of occasions, critical of certain performances and team problems throughout the year. Arizona finished 28th in the overall standings with 30 wins and 70 points.

In May 2016, Tippett signed a five-year contract extension and was named executive vice-president of hockey operations.

Related: The Coyotes are going in a ‘new direction’ — and that’s an understatement

Report: Former Canucks bench boss Desjardins to coach Canada at Olympics

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Willie Desjardins’ time behind the Canucks bench ended in April, following three seasons, one playoff appearance, two years in which they finished near the bottom of the standings, and plenty of questions about deployment issues and his usage of younger players.

However, it seems he’ll soon find himself back behind the bench.

According to Steve Simmons of Postmedia, Desjardins is expected to be named coach of Team Canada for the upcoming 2018 Olympics. Nothing has been announced from Hockey Canada.

Desjardins has experience coaching on the international stage. He was an assistant working with Pat Quinn when Canada took gold in the 2009 World Juniors, and was the head coach the following year when Canada took silver.

Now, it will be interesting to see how respective hockey nations fill out their Olympic rosters for 2018. The NHL has announced its schedule for the upcoming season — cementing the fact the league will not be participating in South Korea.

Based on earlier reports, Canada will look to build a roster with players competing in Europe and in the American Hockey League.

Related: In farewell to Vancouver, Desjardins defends his approach to young players

Ryan Strome pumped at prospect of playing with McDavid, Draisaitl

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Ryan Strome seemed to feel he took a positive step with the Islanders when Doug Weight took over behind the bench in January.

He had a five-game point streak (seven points in that time) and a pair of three-point performances for the Islanders before a broken wrist ended his regular season. On Thursday, he was dealt to a new team, as the Oilers and Islanders made a trade. Going the other way to New York is Jordan Eberle.

“He was great for me,” said Strome of Weight following today’s trade. “Little disappointed I got hurt but I was starting to feel really good and that’s the best I’ve felt in a couple of years.”

Selected fifth overall in 2011, Strome is two years removed from a 17-goal, 50-point sophomore season in the NHL. But he’s never reached more than 30 points in each of the past two years, and the frustrating times continued when he was made a healthy scratch earlier this season with Jack Capuano behind the bench.

Eberle called this trade a fresh start for himself. The same can be applied to Strome.

From an Oilers perspective, the motive for today’s deal, based on the comments of Edmonton’s general manager Pete Chiarelli, was to free up cap space. Strome has one more year left on a two-year, $5 million deal that has an annual cap hit of $2.5 million. The priority is to get pending restricted free agent Leon Draisaitl, as well as the organization’s phenom and Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid, a pending RFA at the end of next season, under contract.

A fresh start for Strome could mean an opportunity to play alongside McDavid or Draisaitl.

A number of times during his media availability, Strome mentioned how excited he was to go to Edmonton. Playing on a line with one of — or both — McDavid or Draisaitl is a valid reason why.

“I remember sitting in my basement a couple of months ago watching the playoffs. I was like, ‘Holy, these guys are good players,'” said Strome.

“I played with (John Tavares) a little bit, so I kind of know how those great players are. John’s a very one-on-one type player, but Connor and Leon, just the way they distribute the puck and how they can skate, their skill is just exceptional.”

Penguins re-sign Ruhwedel to a two-year deal

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The depth of the Pittsburgh Penguins defense faced the ultimate test this spring, winning a Stanley Cup despite the absence of Kris Letang.

Among those depth blueliners asked to come in and help fill the void left by injuries on defense was Chad Ruhwedel. And on Thursday, Ruhwedel re-signed with the Penguins to a two-year deal.

The Penguins announced that this new deal has an average annual value of $650,000 — a modest raise from his one-year, $575,000 deal for last season, but still certainly affordable for a Pittsburgh team that needs to get restricted free agents Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz and Conor Sheary under contract.

In his first season with the Penguins, Ruhwedel split his time between Pittsburgh and the AHL team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He scored twice with 10 points in 34 games with Pittsburgh, and then appeared in six postseason games as injuries continued to mount on the blue line.

His last game of the postseason came on May 19 versus Ottawa. He was diagnosed with a concussion, which was the result of a hit from Bobby Ryan in Game 4.