A day after firing head coach Bob Boughner, the Florida Panthers have announced their new hire and it is a doozy: Joel Quenneville.
This is a reunion of sorts for Quenneville and general manager Dale Tallon. It was Tallon who hired Quenneville to coach the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008 and it was Quenneville who won three Stanley Cups with that team. The hope, obviously, is for that lightning to strike twice.
“Fate is a wonderful thing in my life,” Tallon said. “It’s like a blessing for me. This is a blessing. There are a lot of coaching jobs available. We wanted to get it done because he’s a popular guy and a lot of teams out there would love to have him as their coach.”
Of course, Tallon missed on winning those Cups with Quenneville. He was out of Chicago by the time success really struck, having been fired by the Blackhawks less than a year after the Quenneville hire.
Florida had to dig deep for Quenneville. Word was circulating Sunday that they were talking to him and that came to fruition almost instantly, with the Panthers springing for at least the $6 million called for in the Chicago contract.
It’s probable that the accessibility of Quenneville and his desire to coach again in a hurry led to the firing of Boughner on Sunday.
According to multiple reports, Tallon headed to Panthers owner Vincent Viola to discuss terms a while ago. He then spoke with Quenneville, with the full permission of the Blackhawks. And an “understanding” was struck late Sunday, which in turn led to Monday’s announcement after the Sunday firing.
And now Quenneville will have the good fortune of managing as electrifying a roster as you can get in the NHL. With Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and others in the fold and some veteran balance, there’s a lot of room to play. Quenneville’s arrival may even squeeze another year out of sure locker room leader Roberto Luongo, who seemed to be leaning toward retirement.
For now, the Panthers are on the docket as making the biggest play since season’s end. They addressed a clear need and wasted little time obtaining the hottest coaching property on the market. And now, the fun begins all over again.
(Photo credit: NHL)