After finishing the season with the second-lowest point total in the NHL and missing the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons, the Florida Panthers have relieved interim head coach Peter Horachek of his duties, the team announced Tuesday.
Horachek took over as interim coach on Nov. 8, 2013, after the team fired Kevin Dineen amidst a seven-game winless skid and a 3-9-4 start.
In the 66 games under Horachek, the inexperienced and often wounded Panthers could only muster a 26-36-4 record.
"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," said Panthers vice president and team general manager Dale Tallon.
"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."
The 12th head coach in Panthers history, Horachek was coaching the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, before his promotion. He also spent nine seasons with the Nashville Predators (2003-2013), serving his last two years as associate head coach. While working for the Predators, he helped the club advance to the postseason on seven occasions.
Unfortunately, the success he saw in Nashville didn’t follow him to Florida.
The Panthers scored on just 10 percent of their power plays (last in the league) and ranked 29th (out of 30 teams) in scoring.
Like Dineen, Horachek had no experience as an NHL head coach when he assumed control of the Panthers — a factor that contributed to his firing.
"We just felt as a group that it wasn’t quite the right fit with the direction we’re headed in," said Tallon. "We felt that we probably needed someone with more NHL head coaching experience moving down the road.
"The last few coaches have had no NHL coaching experience… that was the reason behind this."
Tallon said he would like to find Horachek’s successor sometime before the upcoming NHL Entry Draft which will be held June 27-28. The Panthers hold the No. 1 pick.
Possible candidates include former Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz and former Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette who Tallon noted as being "on the list."
"I want the best coach, period." Tallon said. "We’re going to take our time and really investigate, interview various candidates and get the right fit."