Who Is The Right Coach For The Florida Panthers?

Good things come to those who wait.  Haste makes waste.  One of those two phrases will come into play here with the Florida Panthers as their search for a head coach continues. As of Friday, we learned that general manager Dale Tallon has interviewed as many as 10 candidates for the head coaching position with Gerard Gallant and Ron Wilson being the most recent. Now that Dan Bylsma has been let go by the Pittsburgh Penguins, it is believed that Dale is, or has already reached out to him. Adding Bylsma and Wilson to an already long list of candidates shows that Tallon is doing his due diligence in his search for the right man to lead this team. Even assistant coach John Madden has a remote chance for the opening. That being said, who really is the right man for the job?  And will this extensive and thorough search prove to be a valid one?

Without naming names at this juncture we can all state our wishes for the type of coach we think is a good fit.  Everyone knows that the previous three coaches had no NHL experience.  Peter DeBoer, Kevin Dineen and Peter Horachek all had some success at levels below the NHL, but unfortunately that success never really translated to the big league.  The last Panther head coach who had experience was Jacques Martin who did so well as a head coach he was fired, only then to be hired as the GM.  All that manuever did was prolong the tailspin the organization was in.  That ownership group is long gone, and new owner Vincent Viola is here now to right all those wrongs and put a winner together.

Yet South Florida hasn’t been a great market to attract coaches recently, and many of the one’s available seem to have some skeletons in the closet, which isn’t uncommon.  That includes Marc Crawford, Ron Wilson, Gerard Gallant, and even Bylsma. However as we all know, most coaches have a short shelf life, unless your name is Barry Trotz, who was apparently the only choice for the Washington Capitals.  While each of the aforementioned names, as well as some others have done well at various levels, the next choice must be the right choice.

We can give a Gallant a second chance, or a Bill Peters a first chance.  These are two names who’ve been successful in the minors, but not at the NHL level, or haven’t had an opportunity yet.  No offence to either candidate, but haven’t the Panthers done enough of that? Men like Crawford and Bylsma have won Stanley Cups and have experience, but one is well-traveled (Crawford), and the other has kinks in his armour (Bylsma). Ron Wilson has won over 600 games, but doesn’t trust young players, and has a very acerbic personality.  And let’s face it, after all is said and done, the one you want, may not want you…….

As we head into what is likely the home stretch in the decision making process it’s important to choose a coach that has the ability to take this team to the next level.  There can be no middle ground in this whatsoever.  This coach needs to be good with rookies, and young players since we have so many. He must also have the respect of the veterans who may sometimes need to be the buffer for the younger players.  This next coach must know how to win, be hungry to win again, and be able to get his players to go to the wall for him and each other, game after game.  The best examples of that are Darryl Sutter with Los Angeles and Joel Quenneville with Chicago.  They hold their players accountable, are respected, and know how to win.  They are capable of making in-game adjustments that lead to success.  Their players believe in them, and the system that they bring.  You think it’s easy to coach a team of superstars?  It’s not as easy as rolling four lines.  It takes much more than that and both Darryl and Joel have demonstrated they are more than capable of stirring the drink.

The occasional fan likes to see someone given a chance, and see a fresh face.  That’s nice and is a popular choice many times.  While the dedicated, or diehard fan wants a more stern approach with someone who will crack the whip when needed.  The Florida Panthers future is riding on this decision.  While South Florida has a lot to offer anyone as far as its weather and no state income tax, those aren’t necessarily trade offs if the team can’t produce a winner.

The team needs a leader behind the bench who offers guidance, and has experience at all levels and in all situations.

The list is short.  The margin for error is thin.  The future rides on this choice.

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

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