Florida turfs another head coach, fires Horachek

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Tough season for bench bosses in Sunrise.

The Florida Panthers fired their second head coach of the season and third in the last three years on Tuesday, relieving Peter Horachek from interim duties after he took over from Kevin Dineen, who was fired a month into the campaign.

“Peter worked very diligently since taking over as interim head coach in November, but at this time we feel that a fresh approach and a new direction is needed behind our bench,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon said in a statement.  “We will immediately begin an extensive search for a new and experienced coach for our franchise, who will guide the Panthers to future success.”

Horachek, who left his post with Florida’s AHL affiliate to take the Panthers gig, recorded a 26-36-4 mark over 66 games. While things started brightly for him — the Panthers went 10-8-1 following the Dineen dismissal — Tallon always remained non-committal about dropping Horachek’s interim tag, and the Panthers limped to a 6-14-1 record over their final 21 games of the year.

Horachek, 54, did make waves late in the season when he blasted ex-Panther Shawn Matthias, who went to Vancouver as part of the Roberto Luongo trade. Upon hearing Matthias’ complaints about his role in Florida, Horachek said the center needed to “get out of the victim role,” and “he went through four coaches, so nobody’s picking on him.”

That last quote is telling, as it gives insight into Florida’s coaching instability over the last few years. As mentioned above, the club has gone through three since 2011 — Horachek, Dineen and Peter DeBoer — and a fourth will soon be brought aboard, per Tallon.