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Report: Ron Wilson interviews for Panthers' open coaching position

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Ron Wilson last coached in Toronto, where he was fired late in the 2011-12 season. (Getty Images)
Ron Wilson last coached in Toronto, where he was fired late in the 2011-12 season. (Getty Images)

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The Florida Panthers have been mulling over their options for a new head coach for a while now, seemingly in no hurry to name a new boss but with the draft getting closer, business appears to be picking up.

Of the criteria that GM Dale Tallon has spoken of when it comes to a new coach, one thing he has mentioned is experience. The Panthers' past three head coaches -- interim Peter Horachek, Kevin Dineen, Peter DeBoer -- had no prior experience as an NHL head coach and Tallon would like that to change.

To that end, he has apparently reached the stage of interviewing candidates and one of those candidates, according to Chris Botta, is former Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson.

Previously Tallon was given permission to speak with Canadiens assistant Gerard Gallant for the job as well. He has some experience as a former Blue Jackets coach but Gallant was also the bench boss for St. John's in the QMJHL where he coached Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau.

Wilson has seemed like a strong candidate from the beginning for Florida. He has ties to USA Hockey as does Tallon -- even though he is Canadian, Tallon works with USA Hockey -- and has plenty of experience to boot. Wilson's most recent job was in Toronto but he couldn't get the Leafs into the playoffs and so was let go, largely felled by poor goaltending.

Wilson has coached 18 seasons in the NHL with Toronto, San Jose, Washington and Anaheim. His record in 1,401 career games is 648-561-91 with 101 ties. Wilson led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final in 1998.

The next coach of the Panthers is going to come into a tough spot but one with the potential to be fruitful if said coach can take a talented but very young group of players and help them start to reach their promise.

Vancouver and Carolina are the only two other teams in the NHL for now that don't have head coaches.

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