Rookie head coach Peter DeBoer has the Panthers sitting with their best record at the All-Star Break since the 1999-00 season and in the thick of the playoff race.
The two-time Coach of the Year in the Ontario Hockey League recently sat down with FloridaPanthers.com to answer your questions.
John D’Ambrosio of HockeyTown USA and Joe from Coral Springs: How do you decide who will participate in a shootout? Is it based on a player’s performance in practice, during a game?
DeBoer: “A lot of factors go into it. You’re gut feeling, the results of practice, how a player is playing in that game. We have a lot of streaky scorers. Whether they’re on a hot streak or a cold streak factors into it.”
Shawn Kobloch, 11 years old, from Cape Coral: Why is there still no ‘C’ on a player’s jersey?
DeBoer: “That’s a good question. You know what, I think with all the other things we’re trying to address and change this year it hasn’t been at the top of my priority list. We have a lot of candidates and we’re sure we’ll have one sooner than later.”
Devin Gillis from Jupiter: Who’s been the All-Star of the team?
DeBoer: “I would think David Booth up front, Jay Bouwmeester, obviously, on the back end, and he was rewarded with a trip to Montreal for that.”
Shawn: Is is hard to see a player you’ve helped coach and raise play against you?
DeBoer: “No. You take a lot of pride in it, actually. Mike Richards the other night and Derek Roy from Buffalo the other night. It’s great to see those guys have success and you take some pride in having been a small part of that.” Jason Parks from Picton, Ontario: There’s always been a stigma about warm winter cities like Miami where hockey players sometimes have a tough time focusing on their job. Did you find this to be the case when you arrived and, if so, how did you break up that culture?
DeBoer: “I understand it could have been the case in the past. It hasn’t been an issue for us this year. We talked about separating our business and our personal down time and making sure one doesn’t interfer with the other, and the guys have been very respectable of that this year.”
Lynzee Janowitz of South Florida: How rewarding is it to see a kid like Michael Frolik doing so well?
DeBoer: “It’s very rewarding. You know, young players like that you see daily improvements in them and see them maturing on a daily basis, and that’s great to watch.”
Dylan, 17, from Tamarac: How is our system developing and what is the system?
DeBoer: “The system is based around puck pressure, being an attacking team and at the same time being responsible defensively. To do that we have to use four lines and six defenseman and play with energy, and the guys have done a good job so far with that.”
Jim Krause: Do you plan to give the fourth line more ice time to gain confidence?
DeBoer: “I think we play our fourth line fairly regularly. I would say as much or more as anyone in the league. Some nights its more than others based on the situation.”
Philip Bottfeld: What the biggest difference between coaching in the OHL and NHL?
DeBoer: “Definitely the travel. The style of travel. The biggest difference is the parity in the league and the grind in the schedule.”
Bob Mobilia: Do you think Noah Welch will be a top player one day?
DeBoer: “Noah is a work in progress. He missed almost an entire season last year with an injury, but he’s improving daily."