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Panthers coach takes blame for missing playoffs

Tom Rowe says he doesn't know if he'll be back next season

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers coach Tom Rowe on Wednesday blamed himself for their failure to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs and said he did not know if he would return next season.

"It's very frustrating, as the guy who was supposed to get the team there and didn't," Rowe said after practice at BB&T Center. "I didn't get it done and I'm going to take the blame for that. That's the way it should be. It's not the players. The players did everything we asked them to do. I probably pushed certain guys too hard, on certain guys at the wrong time, and that had a negative effect. That's something I'll learn for the future."

Rowe, the Panthers general manager, took over as coach after Gerard Gallant was fired Nov. 27 following an 11-10-1 start. Florida is 22-26-10 under Rowe, who said no decision has been made regarding his status as coach for next season.

"From Day One, it's been interim head coach and that hasn't changed," the 60-year-old said. "I'm going to sit down with [Panthers president Dale Tallon] at the end of the season and we'll discuss everything. Obviously the last six weeks haven't been wonderful, so you can draw your own conclusions from that. But we're moving in the right direction, and whatever is best for the Florida Panthers is what we're going to do as an organization. There's been way too many positive strides taken. I think we've got a lot of very, very good pieces in place. We just have to fix a few of the things in the offseason, that's all."

The Panthers held a playoff position Feb. 20 after the first 5-0-0 road trip in their history. They went 1-7-1 in their next nine games and were eliminated from playoff contention Thursday after a 6-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

Before a 4-1 loss to the Canadiens on Monday, a plane flew a banner near BB&T Center calling for Rowe to be fired.

The Panthers next play Thursday against the St. Louis Blues (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-MW, NHL.TV).

"It's been a trying year, but at the same time it's been a very good growing year for our entire organization," Rowe said. "I like it here. I love the organization. I've been treated really, really well. I don't anticipate any of that changing. Obviously it'll be a different role, if that's what the decision is when the season is over."

Florida (33-35-11) has lost five straight games, 16 of its past 21, and is in sixth place in the Atlantic Division.

"It wasn't an easy situation for anybody," forward Shawn Thornton said. "Everybody came in and tried to do the best job that they could. We as players didn't perform to win enough games. At the end of the day, it's on us in this room."

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