The Florida Panthers certainly don’t have a history of employing head coaches for very long. The longest tenured coach in team history was Jacques Martin and Peter DeBoer, both with 246 games coached. An average that comes to just three seasons with the team. This season they’ve already seen one coaching change, relieving Kevin Dineen of his duties after a 3-9-4 start to the season. In the team’s defense, they did wait out a ten game losing streak, giving Dineen an opportunity to turn things around which simply did not happen.
Maybe there was frustration on Dineen’s side which caused him to lash out at players behind closed doors, and honestly, with how the team had been playing, no one could blame him. But perhaps his timing just wasn’t right, which caused players to ignore it and become unmotivated. In came interim coach Peter Horachek. The team has turned around since Horachek took over, but with some key injuries and bad bounces nothing too remarkable has happened in the standings. Horachek has instilled a hard-working system that focuses on battles in the offensive zone in the corners and along the side boards for puck possession. We all know this as “dump and chase”, but this may be a whole new level of that. With pucks being saved at the blue line by defensemen, instead of setting up in the offensive zone they will once again dump the puck deep leaving the forwards to fight for it.
This can do several things, notably losing possession and leading to a rush back the other way and at this point, with battling in the corners, it could leave for tired forwards now being forced to play in their own zone. It also causes many of the Florida shots or passes to come from the side boards which aren’t exactly high scoring areas. With the exception of a few players, the Panthers don’t exactly have many on the roster one would see as bangers and crashers that are very intimidating or hard to defend against in the corners. This simply means that the battles more often than not will lead to exiting the zone rather than a quality scoring chance.
With new ownership in place and giving the green light to spend some serious cash in the off-season, one would think a more offensive system setting up in the zone would be ideal should the Panthers land a Thomas Vanek or Marian Gaborik to help the offensive struggling team. Whether Horachek can provide that or GM Dale Tallon wishes to find out remains to be seen and we won’t know until the off-season. But should the Panthers look elsewhere for coaching, don’t be too surprised to see it happen.
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