MIAMI (AP) -The Florida Panthers hired Peter DeBoer as their new coach Friday, giving him a multiyear deal on his 40th birthday.
DeBoer - a highly touted junior coach from the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers - also was courted by Ottawa and met with the Senators this week. DeBoer replaces his boss, Jacques Martin, who was stripped of his duties as head coach in April but remains with the team as general manager.
"I was really pleased when Peter decided on our organization," Martin said. "It's a sign that this organization is making strides and having quality people and moving forward."
Martin became Florida's coach in 2004 and took over as general manager in 2006, replacing Mike Keenan. Florida went 38-35-9 to finish with 85 points this season, nine behind Southeast Division champion Washington. The team hasn't won a playoff series since 1996 and a playoff game since 1997. They haven't reached the postseason since 2000.
"I think he brings some intensity. He brings some discipline," Martin said. "I believe he runs a good bench. He believes in the depth of the team. When you look at his team and his record ... it's really outstanding."
DeBoer coached and managed the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL for seven years. While there, he guided the Rangers to two OHL Championships and a Memorial Cup Championship. He played in the OHL for four years for the Windsor Spitfires. He also played professionally for two years with the Milwaukee Admirals.
"There's no doubt that he recognized that our team is a team going on the upside, a team that should be able to make the playoffs next year and keep getting better," Martin said. "Part of it is probably dealing with a general manager who has been a coach for several years. I have an appreciation for what he has to do and I think we can work well together."