The Panthers made a quick decision on coach Pete DeBoer's future, firing him less than 24 hours after the team's season-ending victory over the Capitals.
Hiring DeBoer's replacement, however, will take much longer.
Assistant general manager Mike Santos said on April 23 that the Panthers are currently compiling names of potential coaches. With general manager Dale Tallon spending time scouting in Europe, the team hasn't spoken to anyone regarding their vacancy.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune quoted Atlanta general manager Rick Dudley that the Panthers had asked the Thrashers for permission to speak to assistant coach John Torchetti. Santos said, "to my knowledge" the Panthers haven't asked anyone for permission as of yet.
Both Dudley and Torchetti have ties to the Panthers; Dudley was Florida's general manager when he named Torchetti as the Panthers' interim coach during the 2003-04 season. Both lost their jobs after that season when Florida hired Mike Keenan as general manager and Jacques Martin as coach. Since then, Torchetti won a Stanley Cup as an assistant for the Blackhawks in 2010.
Between Tallon and Santos, the Panthers are expected to speak with more than a dozen candidates for the job, although the official interview process may not include as many. "The more the merrier," said Santos, noting that he receives calls about the job on a daily basis.
The Panthers haven't won more than three straight games in the three seasons Pete DeBoer coached the team. Florida thought it was finally going to break through and get a fourth straight win on Jan. 17 when it played host to division rival Atlanta. The Panthers won three big games to get back over the .500 mark in the win/regulation loss column as they beat the Capitals and Devils in overtime with a regulation win over Nashville sandwiched between. The Panthers ended up losing in overtime to the Thrashers, then lost the following three games as the slide out of playoff contention began.
If Panthers management was on the fence whether they would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, two games as the deadline approached surely convinced them it was time to deal. The Panthers, still in the hunt for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, beat the Lightning in overtime on Feb. 19 before dropping consecutive 5-1 decisions against the Islanders and Senators. The day after Florida's loss in Ottawa, Panthers GM Dale Tallon sent Cory Stillman to Carolina and the fire sale was on. The Panthers would later trade Dennis Wideman, Bryan Allen, Bryan McCabe, Chris Higgins and Radek Dvorak.
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