For the second time this season, the Florida Panthers are letting go of their coach.
Peter Horachek will not return as the Panthers' bench boss, the team announced on Tuesday. The interim coach after taking over for the fired Kevin Dineen early in the season, the Panthers decided to start fresh.
"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," GM Dale Tallon said. "We will immediately begin an extensive search for a new and experienced coach for our franchise, who will guide the Panthers to future success. We once again thank Peter for all of his hard work and service and wish him the best in his future endeavors."
Horachek took over the Panthers, bring promoted from Florida's AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Initially he got some good production out of the young team and at one point the Panthers came close to getting back in the playoff race, but they struggled down the stretch and finished with the second-worst record in the NHL.
Horachek was able to help some players play their best, including Scottie Upshall. Together in Nashville, the rekindled relationship helped the Panthers' veteran forward. But the special teams were just dreadful for Florida, on both sides. The Panthers had the NHL's worst power play and worst PK, an awful combination. The power-play struggles were a bit baffling considering the team had ranked sixth and seventh in the NHL in that department the previous two seasons.
In 66 games under Horachek the Panthers were 26-36-4. Under Dineen this season the Panthers were 3-9-4 before he was fired. Clearly Horachek got more out of the team but still not enough.
The Panthers are still going to rely on a lot of very young and highly regarded prospects next season as their rebuilding continues. That might lead you to think they'd look to hire a coach with more roots in development, but Tallon did say in his statement they will look for a veteran coach.