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Panthers Players Share in Excitement Surrounding Quenneville's Hire

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop /

Panthers on Quenneville Arrival

Panthers Players React to Coach Quenneville Arrival

Interviews with Aleksander Barkov, Keith Yandle, Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad, Frank Vatrano, and Mike Matheson

  • 02:10 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - With one simple letter, a bolt of lightning surged through the locker room.

"Q" was all Florida Panthers needed to hear.

With the announcement of Joel Quenneville's hiring on Monday, Panthers players were given a shot of adrenaline on what had expected to be a somber locker clean out at BB&T Center. The question mark created by a lost season suddenly transformed into a mustachioed exclamation point, as the three-time Stanley Cup winning coach's arrival sent substantial shockwaves throughout both the team and NHL.

The second-winningest coach in NHL history, Quenneville comes to South Florida with 890 wins already to his credit. That total doesn't include his 118 playoff victories, which happen to be 100 more than the Panthers have in their entire history. In his 20 full seasons as a coach, he's missed the postseason twice.

In 10 seasons behind Chicago's bench, Quenneville, who parted ways with the Blackhawks in November, helped the organization return to relevance. Taking over a team built by Panthers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Dale Tallon, he went on to win Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

At his introductory press conference, the former Jack Adams winner laid out his plans for the future with conviction.

"We don't want to be in this position," Quenneville said of Florida's struggle to become a consistent contender. "We can't be happy. We can't be satisfied and talking up a good game. Talk can be cheap, but actions speak volumes for what you're all about and what you intend to do.

"That's what we intend to do. We want to be a team that makes the playoffs. Everybody is striving in their career to play playoff hockey. Once you get that appetite of playing meaningful games, big games in big moments, it's a thrill…. You grow together as a team, and it's amazing the steps that you take."

[READ: Panthers Ready for 'New Beginning' Under Stanley Cup-winning Quenneville]

As the only player in the locker room to have previously played under Quenneville, veteran winger Troy Brouwer, a member of Chicago's Stanley Cup-winning squad in 2010, was bombarded by teammates in the immediate moments following the announcement, each looking for insights into their new coach.

"He's got a presence," Brouwer said. "Obviously he's won three Stanley Cups as a head coach, one as an assistant coach. He's got some weight behind him and his name. The guys in the dressing room are already talking about what to expect and asking me questions.

Brouwer went on to say that Quenneville's hire "made a statement about where this team wants to go."

"He's one of those guys who you're going to respect even before the game," Brouwer said. "He's got a lot of presence that comes with him. Guys are excited to get to know him and start working with him."

That excitement was palpable during exit interviews, as players shuffled through the locker room doors one by one to meet the media. Of course, all of them were asked about Quenneville's high-profile hiring.

Here's what they had to say:

Aleksander Barkov: "It's a Stanley Cup-winning coach, one of the best coaches ever to be in the NHL. To have the opportunity to work with him is unreal, but at the same time it's really disappointing that we didn't make the playoffs. It's not just a coaching thing, it's players too. Of course, as players we need to make sure that we're going to be ready to play next year and meet expectations."

Jonathan Huberdeau: "It's great news for us. We know him as a coach, and he has a great pedigree. Won a cup with Chicago, we know Dale [Tallon] knows him a lot, so really excited to meet him and start working with him for next year… We know what we have to do to make the playoffs and this coach knows how to win. We have the right group; we just have to figure it out on our own and he's the guy that is going to help us do that."

Roberto Luongo: "I think it's exciting to have a coach that has won some cups and has experience, so it's a good vibe around the locker room. He's won multiple cups with the Blackhawks over the last few years and I think that's a huge resume and a big name to have in the locker room and a good presence… I think guys will look up to that and respect what he has to say. I think the main thing is that he's won, and he's proven it before, and I think 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."

Keith Yandle: "I think it is unreal. It's a chance to get a Hall of Fame coach, a guy that has won Stanley Cups, knows how to win. I've heard from guys that played for him in Chicago, they loved him. It is definitely an exciting day here… When you get a coach of that caliber, you've proven to everybody you want to win. It starts there and I think that will definitely help out too with free agency and getting guys here when they know you have a coach of his caliber."

Video: Welcome Coach Q

Aaron Ekblad: "He has a winning pedigree, and we are really excited to have someone with that kind of knowledge. I am going to try and be a sponge and learn as much as I possibly can and be a part of turning things around."

Henrik Borgstrom: "He's one of those coaches that everyone recognizes really well because he spent so much time with the Blackhawks. His message was really good. I kind of got goosebumps when he told us to remember this feeling and that next year we'd be coming off the ice at this time of the year. I think it's great for us to have him."

Mike Matheson: "He's seen it all. He's been to the Stanley Cup Final, and he's won. He knows how to handle the ebbs and flows of the year and how to get the most out of his players. He knows how to get help them reach their goal of winning the Stanley Cup. That's exactly what we want."

Vincent Trocheck: "It's exciting, obviously. He is the second-winningest coach in NHL history. He's obviously been around the game for a long time, won three Stanley Cups. It's great to have a veteran-coach presence in here to kind of whip us into shape, I guess you could say… I'm excited. He's won three Stanley Cups. He demands a lot from his players and gets a lot of respect from his players."

Frank Vatrano: "I think it's a great move for our team. He's second all-time in wins for a coach, and I think that speaks for itself. If you ask guys around the league who played for him, they have nothing but respect for him and loved playing for him. I know the guys here are really excited about the future of this organization. Hopefully we can contend for a Cup every single year now."

Colton Sceviour: "It's exciting. It's a huge commitment to the group in there that we are still close after not the best season. We know what he brings and the success he has. It's extremely exciting… When he comes in, you just know what he's done and how much success he's had in the past. He knows what he's talking about and you know everything coming in is going to be top-notch. Whatever he says goes. There's no questions. If he says something, you can't question it. It's worked. It's been tested and stuff like that. He comes in, set the systems, and then everything else just goes with that and you go."

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