By Darci Miller, University of Miami
|Panthers players officially hit the ice for the first time at Saveology.com Iceplex on Saturday.
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – For Panthers’ new head coach Kevin Dineen, it was a busy first day.
Jumping from one rink to the next, Dineen tried to take in as much of the practices as he could at the Saveology.com Iceplex. It was a tall order considering the fact that he had to keep his eyes on 57 players who were trying out for the Panthers team for the upcoming season.
Dineen was named to the position early this summer after the organization parted ways with Peter DeBoer, the latest in a string of coaches who failed to get the team into the playoffs for ten consecutive seasons.
“Last night we had a welcome meeting and I talked a lot about our long range plans and where we want to go,” said Dineen. “I basically left it with the players that the way we achieve our goals is starting today.”
The Panthers, who went under an organizational overhaul this summer, added a number of new prospects being added to the lineup of returning players.
“I really like the mix right now, and we got off to a good start today,” Dineen said following . “It’s a bit of a tone more than anything.”
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|IN THE SPOTLIGHT |
New Season, New Excitement, New Hope Stefanie Hew, University of Miami
Excitement buzzed off the ice and through the crowd at the Saveology.com Iceplex in Coral Springs, Fla. at as the Panthers hit the ice for the first time at their 2011 training camp.
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As a part of this mix, Dineen is combining veterans with “future star players” on the same lines.
“When guys are out there on the ice, they’re enthusiastic. They listen and see how we’re going to play the game, and start the execution,” Dineen said. “You love it when you see it with a senior player… and you love it when you see it with your youth.”
With the overhaul and all the new players being added, team chemistry has been a concern.
“There’s a lot of new bodies,” Dineen said. “It’s a period of transition, and that’s what we’re planning on using these first two weeks for.”
Dineen played in the NHL for 19 seasons, most of them spent with the Hartford Whalers. In his 1,188 NHL games, he scored 355 goals and had 405 assists. He appeared in two All-Star Games for Hartford, in 1988 and ’89, and was named NHL Man-of-the-Year in 1990-91. After ending his playing career in 2002, Dineen worked in the operations department of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Dineen was the head coach of the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League (AHL) for the past six seasons. He had a .616 winning percentage, with a record of 266-155-59, which is the best in franchise history. In four of his six seasons with Portland, the team won at least 40 of their 80 games played. Saturday was just the kick off to a new chapter in his life and his first season with the Panthers.
“A lot of times in the past I’ve sat in the coaches room, and you really try to force or find that one saying,” he said. “You know, if you come up with ‘Git ‘er Done’ then you know you’re in trouble. That’s well worn. I think for us, we’ve got a good feel for what we have.”