Paul Maurice is the new coach of the Florida Panthers. He agreed to a deal Wednesday to take over a club that had just finished a season in which it had the NHL’s best record and rewrote the franchise’s record books.
Maurice, 55, will be introduced Thursday morning, the Panthers announced.
Maurice will replace interim Panthers coach Andrew Brunette, who could stay with the organization if he chooses to do so.
TSN first reported that the Panthers and Maurice were finalizing a deal.
Panthers general manager Bill Zito, in a statement released by the team, said the hiring of Maurice came after “a thorough review of all aspects of our team”.
The Panthers will become the fourth franchise that Maurice coaches. He started in Hartford in 1995, two seasons before that franchise moved to Carolina. He coached Toronto for two seasons before returning to Carolina, then spent nearly nine years coaching in Winnipeg before leaving there in December.
“I pushed as long and as hard as I could here. I love these guys. They need a new voice, and I know that,” Maurice said when he left Winnipeg.
Now six months away from that decision, Maurice is also making a fresh start with a team that believes it is a Stanley Cup contender.
WATCH | Maurice on his decision to resign:
Florida won the Presidents’ Trophy this season and reached the second round of the playoffs, winning a playoff series for the first time since 1996. Brunette was a finalist for Coach of the Year in his first stint as coach leader at the NHL level, finishing as a finalist behind Calgary’s Darryl Sutter for the Jack Adams Award.
That wasn’t enough to secure him the long-term job, nor was the support of Panthers players, including captain Aleksander Barkov, among others.
Florida, for the past three seasons combined, has ranked second in the NHL in wins (130) and points per game (1.35) — behind only Colorado on those two lists. The Avalanche have 137 wins and an average of 1.41 ranking points per game over that span.
The Panthers also set team records this season in many categories, including wins (58) and goals (340). Jonathan Huberdeau became the first Panthers player with a 100-point season, the team went 34-7-0 at home, started the year with eight straight wins and added a 13-game winning streak later in the game. the season.
Florida ended up being swept by Tampa Bay in the second round, and a month later Maurice has now been brought on board to see where he can take the Panthers next season and beyond.