SUNRISE, Fla. — Here’s the status of the Florida Panthers these days: The owner is disappointed, the general manager is angry and the players are underachieving.
Add it up, and it meant the coach is fired.
Kevin Dineen — the only coach to win a division championship in Panthers’ history — was let go Friday morning, a move that general manager Dale Tallon called “the first of many changes” that are coming to a franchise that finished at the bottom of the NHL last season and is off to one of the worst starts in the league this year.
Peter Horachek was summoned from the team’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio to replace Dineen on an interim basis.
“If players don’t respond to this, they won’t be Panthers for very long,” Tallon said.
Dineen, who was in his third season, was told of the move Friday morning. Florida lost in Boston 4-1 on Thursday night, the team’s seventh straight loss and 10th defeat in its last 11 games.
Tallon said he’s been considering making a change “for a long time” and that the decision was not easy. Florida has only three wins in 16 games this season. Already this year, 11 teams have at least 10 wins.
The Panthers are 3-9-4, going into Saturday’s game at Ottawa.
Florida also fired assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Craig Ramsay, replacing them with former players Brian Skrudland and John Madden.
Panthers owner Vinnie Viola, who bought the club in late September, wrote a letter to fans saying the change in direction was “absolutely necessary.”
“With 66 games remaining this season our expectations remain the same,” Viola wrote. “We expect a team that plays hard, that sacrifices for each other, that gives everything they have for our fans and supporters, and a team that wins hockey games. By the end of this season we expect to be competing for a place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and we expect to have taken a significant step toward achieving the goals and objectives we have set for this franchise.”
Dineen was 56-62-28 in parts of three seasons, leading the Panthers to the 2012 Southeast Division title and guiding the team into the playoffs for the first time since 2000.