Panthers get Stanley Cup winning coach Joel Quenneville
The Panthers stood on the verge Sunday night of hiring a coach with three Stanley Cup titles and the second-most coaching wins in NHL history.
Hours after firing Bob Boughner as coach, the Panthers were close to a deal with Joel Quenneville, according to a source.
Quenneville won Stanley Cup titles coaching Chicago in 2010, 2013 and 2015 and has made the playoffs 18 times in 20 full seasons as an NHL head coach.
The Panthers on Sunday evening were confident the deal would get done and are hopeful he will be introduced at a news conference on Monday.
After a disappointing season that ended without a playoff berth, the Panthers began the day by firing Boughner and assistant coach Paul McFarland.
“We made a tough decision today and have relieved Bob Boughner of his duties as head coach,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said in a statement released by the team. “We’re grateful to Bob, Paul and their families for their hard work and their dedication to the Panthers organization, and we wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.”
Quenneville, 60, is highly respected around the league. His tenure in Chicago ended with his dismissal last October after the Blackhawks got off to a 6-6-3 start.
Tallon was the architect of those Blackhawks team that led to the three Windy City parades. He had left for the Panthers in May of 2010 — before the Blackhawks won the first of those titles — but he did most of the heavy lifting in terms of acquiring Chicago’s personnel, and he worked with Quenneville for two years.
Quenneville began his coaching career by guiding the St. Louis Blues for eight seasons, including seven playoff appearances, before his dismissal. He then coached Colorado for three years, losing twice in the conference semifinals.
He moved on Chicago for 10-plus seasons and guided the Blackhawks to the playoffs every year except 2017-18, before being dismissed early this past season.
His career coaching record: 890 wins, 532 losses, 77 ties and 137 overtime losses. Even at No. 2 on the all-time coaching win list, he’s still well behind Scotty Bowman, who won 1244 games.
The Panthers gave a strong hint of their intentions on Quenneville with another part of Tallon’s statement:
“We will seek to identify a transformative, experienced coach with Stanley Cup pedigree to lead our team going forward.”
Coaches with that “Stanley Cup pedigree” aren’t abundantly available, other than Quenneville.
The Panthers came oh-so-close to the playoffs in Boughner’s rookie season as an NHL head coach, accumulating 96 points in that 2017-18 season. They were one point short of the playoffs and were the hottest team in the league for two-plus months, nearly overcoming a slow start.
They were considered the best non-playoff team in the league and had one more point than the Colorado Avalanche, who made the postseason in the Western Conference.
This season, the Panthers knew they needed a better start, but it never happened. The team started poorly and never found traction despite career years from five of their forwards. Included in that was captain Aleksander Barkov, who broke Pavel Bure’s franchise points record with 96.
Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau (92 points) marked the first time Panthers teammates each had over 90 points in a season.
However, the Panthers had one of the five-worst defenses in the NHL and accumulated only 86 points in the standings — 10 points fewer than the previous season and 12 points less than the final wild-card team, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Boughner finished his two-year tenure with the Panthers with 80 wins, 62 losses and 22 overtime losses.
“We didn’t meet expectations this season, and we share responsibility for that fact,” Tallon said. “After careful evaluation, we have determined that this is a necessary first step for our young team.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ The NHL Draft Lottery is Tuesday, and the Panthers have just a two-percent chance of getting the top overall pick.
▪ The Panthers have missed the playoffs three years in a row and have only advanced once in the postseason, making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996. In all, they have made the playoffs just five times, and they have had 12 head coaches since 2000.
One of the coaches the Panthers fired – Gerard Gallant – made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.