Just over a year removed from knocking the Florida Panthers out of the playoffs, Jack Capuano is headed south.
The former coach of the New York Islanders officially joined Bob Boughner’s staff as an associate coach of the Panthers on Friday.
“My familiarity with the Panthers has grown a lot throughout the past few years,” Capuano said in a statement, “and I'm eager to work with such a young, talented group of players.”
In an odd twist, both Capuano and Gerard Gallant were fired last season after getting their teams to the playoffs. Capuano was also a finalist for the Vegas Golden Knights coaching job which went to Gallant last month.
Gallant is also said to have spoken to the Islanders about their open job when Capuano was fired in January.
Doug Weight replaced Capuano on an interim basis and ended up keeping the job.
Boughner was named the 15th coach of the Panthers earlier this month.
Capuano, 50, is a former defenseman who played in six NHL games after almost 300 in the minors.
In 1995, Capuano started his coaching career in Tallahassee with the Tiger Sharks of the ECHL. After coaching and being the general manager of a ECHL team in South Carolina, Capuano joined the Islanders organization in 2005.
After three seasons as head coach of the Islanders’ team in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Capuano replaced the fired Scott Gordon behind the Islanders bench early in the 2010-11 season. He remained there until being fired in January.
In parts of seven seasons with the Islanders, Capuano went 227-192-64 and advanced to the playoffs three times. The Islanders win over the Panthers last year was New York’s first playoff series win since 1993. After beating Florida, the Islanders’ playoff run ended in the Eastern Conference semifinals to Tampa Bay.
With the Panthers, Capuano is expected to coach defense and penalty kill.
Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger, hired by the Panthers to work in the front office on Thursday, said he would help Florida’s defense if asked.