|Head coach Kevin Dineen and assistant Craig Ramsay discuss strategy during a Panthers pre-season game. The duo will be making their Panthers coaching debuts on October 8th on Long Island. (Eliot J. Schechter)
In today's topic, we take a closer look at how much of an impact the new coaches might have in the Top Five Questions this season.
About half of the Panthers roster will be taking the ice come October 8th for the very first time in a Cats jersey. Behind the bench it will be the same as half of the coaching staff will get their first games as Panthers against the Islanders.
The Panthers hired former NHL forward Kevin Dineen as their new bench boss on June 1. They then added former Thrashers head coach Craig Ramsay as an assistant to complement assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Robb Tallas who were kept on from the previous regime.
Add in new Panthers video coach PJ DeLuca and three of the six coaches (other being Strength and Conditioning coach Craig Slaunwhite) and the Panthers have a different look and voice heading into the upcoming season.
With three new coaches to go with a multitude of changes on the playing roster, the question is how quickly can the staff come together and what kind of impact will they have on their "charges".
If experience in the ranks are any indication then the Panthers should be just fine.
Dineen spent 19 years in the league playing and picking up 760 points in 1,188 career games. After his career, he spent a season with the Columbus Blue Jackets before coaching the Portland Pirates (AHL) for the past six seasons. There he had a brilliant career as the main bench boss for the affiliates of the Anaheim Ducks and Buffalo Sabres. Dineen compiled a record of 266-155-59 (.619 winning percentage) while developing players such as Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner, Nathan Gerbe, Tyler Ennis and Luke Adam. The last three won AHL Rookie Of The Year awards the past three seasons.
"You see the potential that's there," said Dineen. "The youth, the veterans, the skill that was added this summer, you have a lot of reason for optimism. It makes for a very exciting time."
Then you can't forget about Ramsay who has nearly 40 years of NHL experience as a player and a coach. Hired on July 7, Ramsay played in 1,070 games (all with Buffalo) over his 14-year NHL career while registering 672 points. After retiring, Ramsay has been an assistant coach in Buffalo, Florida, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Boston. Ramsay was the Atlanta Thrashers head coach this past season.
“He brings an in-depth knowledge and experience to the Panthers organization which will be an invaluable resource for our players to draw from," said Dineen of Ramsay.
The Panthers staff, led by Dineen, infused with talent thanks to Panthers management should see the results this season. Finishing with just 72 points last year, the Panthers new coaching staff has a chance to make a big difference.
"I think Dineen has an opportunity in Florida to make the most dramatic improvement of all the coaches mentioned," said ESPN's Craig Custance in a response to a twitter question about what new head coach (Dineen, Minnesota's Mike Yeo, Dallas' Glen Gulutzan and Winnipeg's Claude Noel) will do the best and why. "GM Dale Tallon has not only done a great job accumulating talent, he's creating an atmosphere in South Florida in which players should enjoy playing. There are some great personalities on that team, and I think Dineen has the opportunity to mold them into a squad that should well exceed the 72 points Florida posted last year. If success is measured in improvement over last season, I think Dineen will lead the way."