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Quenneville hired as Panthers coach

Three-time Stanley Cup champion replaces Boughner after Florida misses playoffs

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Joel Quenneville was hired as coach of the Florida Panthers on Monday.

After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, the players are looking forward to the future with a three-time Cup champion coach behind the bench.

"It's exciting," forward Jonathan Huberdeau said. "Enough is enough. At last, he's going to be the coach that's going to bring us to the Cup."

 

[RELATED: Quenneville timeline: New Panthers coach has history of success]

 

Quenneville replaces Bob Boughner, who was fired Sunday after the Panthers missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season since he was hired June 12, 2017. The Panthers (36-32-14) finished 12 points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference this season despite having three 30-goal scorers, Mike Hoffman (36), Aleksander Barkov (35) and Huberdeau (30).

They were 44-30-8 in 2017-18, Boughner's first season, but finished one point behind the New Jersey Devils for the second Eastern wild card.

General manager Dale Tallon is hoping Quenneville can produce the same results after he hired him as coach of the Chicago Blackhawks three games into the 2008-09 season. The Blackhawks reached the playoffs in Quenneville's first nine seasons and won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

"I look back to when we were in Chicago when I first arrived and had the privilege of coaching that group that Dale had put in place," Quenneville said Monday. "Lot of parallels from that [2010] team and this team. … I think (if) the young group here finds a way to get in the playoffs -- tough division, tough challenge -- things happen.

"I believe this team is close to winning. I was fortunate, luckiest guy in the world, when I walked into the Chicago situation there, a team ready, sitting on go to win. I feel the same here now."

Tallon's relationship with Quenneville continued after Tallon left the Blackhawks on May 17, 2010, about a month before Chicago won the Cup.

"I wasn't on the ice when they won the Cup," Tallon said. "… And the first phone call I got was from [Quenneville], from the locker room with the players. And I said to myself, 'One day I want to be on the ice with you when we do this.' And so for this to happen … that was 2010. And I was in [Panthers president Bill Torrey's] house watching (Patrick) Kane score the winning goal and [Quenneville] called me from the locker room with the rest of the players. I cried my eyes out. And I never said it to anyone but I was hopeful that someday I would be on the ice with him when that moment happens. So for this to come together, it's kind of … I believe in fate and I believe good things happen to good people and this is meant to be. I can't tell you how excited I am."

Quenneville is 890-532-137 with 77 ties in 22 seasons with the Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche; only Scotty Bowman (1,244) has more wins. Quenneville was fired by the Blackhawks on Nov. 6, 15 games into his 11th season with them.

He was the longest-tenured coach in the NHL before being fired by the Blackhawks, who hired him Oct. 16, 2008.

"I think it's unreal. It's a chance to get a Hall of Fame coach, a guy that's obviously proven he wins Stanley Cups, knows how to win," defenseman Keith Yandle said. "I know the guys that played for him in Chicago loved him. It's definitely an exciting day here.

"You get a coach of that caliber, you've proven to everybody that you want to win. It starts there and I think that'll definitely help out too with free agency and getting guys here when you have a coach of [Quenneville's] caliber."

The Panthers have not qualified for the playoffs since 2016, and last won a postseason series in 1996, when they reached the Stanley Cup Final and lost to the Colorado Avalanche. Quenneville was an assistant with the Avalanche that season.

Quenneville's introductory press conference at BB&T Center was attended by every current Panthers player.

"He's won multiple Cups with the Blackhawks; that's a huge resume and a big name to have in the locker room, a good presence," goalie Roberto Luongo said. "Guys will look up to that and respect what he's got to say. The main thing is he's won and he's proven it before. We need a little bit of that in our locker room to realize what it takes to win night in and night out in this League."

Tallon said the idea of hiring Quenneville entered his mind after the Blackhawks fired him.

"That's just normal thinking," Tallon said. "I've never said that to anybody. But I have nightmares and I have dreams like everybody else. And for me, an item from heaven, you just never know when it's going to happen, right? So this chance doesn't come around (often). You've got to jump at it. That's the most important part of it.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He's a Hall of Fame coach and he was available. This is a move we felt was necessary."

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