Paul Maurice is the Right Choice for the Florida Panthers

According to Darren Dreger, Andrew Brunette will no longer be the head coach of the Florida Panthers, and Paul Maurice will take over the post. Dreger also reports that Maurice has signed a three-year contract.

Wait, what?

Brunette took over as head coach of the Panthers on October 29th, 2021, for Joel Quenneville. He compiled a record of 51-18-6, and the Panthers won the President’s Trophy as the best team in the regular season under his tutelage. Florida seemed primed for a deep playoff run, and It seemed like it was only a matter of time before the “interim” label was removed from his head coach title. His extraordinary regular season earned him a nomination for the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL coach of the year.

The playoffs, however, proved to be a struggle for the first-time head coach. The mighty Panthers struggled to get by the eighth-seed Washington Capitals, eventually getting by the 2018 Stanley Cup champions in six games. This set up a rematch with their in-state rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning – the team that eliminated them in the first round of the 2020-21 playoffs.

Many believed the Panthers would get their revenge before the start of this season’s series. After all, they finished the regular season with twelve more points than the Lightning, and even though the Panthers struggled against the Capitals, some (including myself) attributed that to Washington being a playoff-tested team. Florida added veterans Claude Giroux and Ben Chariot by the trade deadline to get them over the hump against a team like Tampa Bay. Hockey fans in south Florida were looking forward to returning to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1996.

Free Agent Profile: Filip Forsberg

Instead, the Panthers were demolished by the Lightning in four straight games, ending their 2021-22 season. The defending champs outscored the Panthers by an 11-3 margin, including a series-clinching 2-0 shutout. Florida looked completely overwhelmed for much of the series. While Tampa coach Jon Cooper put on a master class in strategy and adjustments, rookie coach Brunette simply had no answer.

The playoff loss to the Lightning is not entirely Andrew Brunette’s fault. The Panthers had the league’s most prolific offense during the regular season. There is plenty of blame to go around that, including team leaders like Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau when that offense only scores three goals in one playoff series. Even still, when things go wrong, blame almost always falls on the coach, which is what happened in this case.

Teams in a “win now” mode are often veteran-heavy, and the Florida Panthers are both of those. When a team becomes a contender, most organizations lean toward the known commodity for their coaching instead of the unknown or less experienced candidates. A veteran-heavy team might not respond as well to a coach who doesn’t have a track record but rather to a coach who has experience handling players and what motivates them.

Enter Paul Maurice.

Maurice has twenty-four years of experience as an NHL head coach, having coached the Carolina Hurricanes twice, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs and, most recently, the Winnipeg Jets. He has coached a whopping 1,685 NHL games, earning a record of 775-681-99-130. In the playoffs, he has compiled a record of 41-51. His most recent head coaching job was with the Winnipeg Jets, where he spent over eight seasons as their bench boss until he resigned on December 17th, 2021. With the Jets, he had a record of 315-224-62.

Paul Maurice checks a lot of boxes for the Florida Panthers. He is one of the most well-liked and respected coaches in the game, and his previous coaching experience is in line with the team’s heavy veteran presence. Maurice will be able to get the best out of a team that is still a Stanley Cup contender but perhaps needs more experience behind the bench to get by the Jon Coopers of the hockey world. Andrew Brunette did a fantastic job in the regular season in the wake of the sudden departure of Joel Quenneville. Still, experience carries more weight in the playoffs than in the regular season. If the Panthers are going to “win now,” they need experience on the ice and behind the bench. Paul Maurice is undoubtedly qualified for the job.

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
  2. The Final Countdown
  3. Here Come the Playoffs
  4. Home Stretch
  5. Kevy Cooks

Scott Kinville

I have been a hockey fan for as long as I can remember and have been following the LA Kings since 1988. Born and raised in the Mohawk Valley, NY, I'm a contributor for Inside The Rink and also the host of Marty's Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast. Most of all I am proud of the fact that my wife and kids have become hockey fanatics just like me!

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