Tom Rowe of the Florida Panthers was the latest local coach to have his employment status questioned by a banner plane flying high over a South Florida sports venue.
Before Monday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, a plane circled BB&T Center in Sunrise towing the message: ‘Rowe must go! Call him a cab!’
The first part of the message is obvious; the second is in reference to former coach Gerard Gallant getting a cab outside Raleigh’s PNC Arena after he was fired and replaced by Rowe following a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 27.
It has become clear Rowe’s days as interim head coach of the Panthers are numbered.
Although Rowe previously said he would be interested in keeping the Florida coaching job full time although after this team’s downward spiral, it will not happen.
The Panthers have officially said they will discuss the situation once this season comes to a close on Sunday night.
On Monday, numerous sources told the Miami Herald Rowe would not return behind the bench.
The Panthers are off on Tuesday.
Rowe, who became Florida’s associate general manager last season before taking Dale Tallon’s job as GM following first-round postseason exit to the Islanders, didn’t plan on this season falling apart.
Yet he knew if things somehow went south, he would take the fall.
“This is part of the business,” Rowe said following Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Canadiens.
“I knew coming here, to be part of it, if things didn’t go well I would be taking the brunt of it.
“But that’s fine. I can handle that. Fans pay great money to see us play and it’s their prerogative to speak their mind. I have no problem with that.”
Florida, which has lost its past five with losses in 16 of the past 21, will conclude its season on Sunday against the Washington Capitals.
Rowe gave up his general manager responsibilities to Tallon, Steve Werier and Eric Joyce when he took over behind the bench although he retained the job title.
With three years remaining and the trust and friendship of ownership, Rowe will be offered a position within the front office.
It’s unclear who will take the general manager title; Tallon is Florida’s president of hockey operations now.
Following Monday’s loss, Rowe was asked about the vitriol being spewed from fans as Florida’s season went from a divisional title and 103 points to falling to the bottom of the division.
Short bursts of ‘Rowe must go!’ chants were heard coming from the lower bowl of the arena midway through the first period.
According to a source, arena security was told to be on the look out for anti-Rowe signs or banners.
No more than a couple were spotted by officials on Monday.
“Fans, they pay good money to watch us play and when they’re not happy ... I’m a big boy and have thick skin,” Rowe said.
“We have a great franchise. I would tell the fans this: We have a great franchise, great players.
“It’s been a disappointing year but we’ll definitely be back in the playoffs.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS COACHES
Roger Neilson 1993-95
Doug MacLean 1995-97
Bryan Murray* 1997-98
Terry Murray 1998-2001
Duane Sutter 2001-2002
Mike Keenan 2002-2003
Rick Dudley* 2003-04
John Torchetti* 2003-04
Jacques Martin 2004-2008
Pete DeBoer 2008-2011
Kevin Dineen 2011-2013
Peter Horachek* 2013-14
Gerard Gallant 2014-2016
Tom Rowe* 2016-17
(*) — Denotes interim head coach