"It is with great pleasure that I welcome Kevin Dineen to the Florida Panthers organization," Panthers Executive Vice President and General Manager Dale Tallon said. "Kevin brings to our organization more than 25 years of playing and coaching experience. He played in more than 1,100 National Hockey League games and is one of only seven players in the League's history to score more than 350 goals, while registering more than 2,000 penalty minutes.
"For the last several years, Kevin has been regarded as one of the top head coaches in the American Hockey League, leading the Portland Pirates to the AHL postseason five out of six years as the club's coach. He is a player’s coach who understands our team’s philosophy and direction and someone who will guide the Panthers to future success."
Dineen, 47, has spent the past six seasons as coach of the AHL's Portland Pirates, which for the past three seasons were an affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres and prior to that, an Anaheim Ducks affiliate. His record there was 266-155-59, a .616 winning percentage that represented the best in the franchise's history.
"We interviewed and talked to a lot of different people about this opening," Tallon said. "The minute I met Kevin, I knew he was the guy. You look into his eyes and you can see passion, you can see caring, compassion, integrity, class, dignity -- all those things we want our players to be like."
During a 19-season NHL career spent with Hartford, Philadelphia, Carolina, Ottawa and Columbus, Dineen, a third-round pick of the Whalers in the 1982 Entry Draft, amassed 355 goals and 760 points in 1,188 regular-season games. He added 23 goals and 41 points in 59 postseason games.
"Every day at the rink is going to be an educational day," Dineen said. "Whether it's a game day or a practice day, we're there to get better."
While the Panthers haven't made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2000, the longest current drought in the League, they found themselves in the Final 15 years ago and Dineen is eager to restore the buzz around town currently being generated by another of the area's sports franchises.
"I'm extremely honored and excited and maybe a little anxious to get started," Dineen said. "I was able to be here last night and feel that buzz that's around the [NBA's Miami] Heat last night, and that's what I look forward to with the Panthers."
Dineen succeeds Peter DeBoer, who coached the team for the past three seasons, compiling a 103-107-36 record.
That was something I've been dreaming of, something I've told myself before the third period I was going to do ... It was an amazing feeling. It's hard to describe. I didn't believe it went in at first but when I saw all the reaction and all the fans going crazy and my teammates going crazy, it's just an unbelievable feeling. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know whether to jump or just skate and do a Theo Fleury. I don't think I'm the same caliber player he is so I couldn't do it.
— Flames forward Mikael Backlund on scoring the overtime winner against the Ducks in Gm. 3