In a somewhat shocking move, the Florida Panthers are reportedly hiring Paul Maurice as their next head coach, replacing interim bench boss Andrew Brunette.
Brunette led the Panthers to the league’s best record and the Presidents' Trophy and was a Jack Adams (NHL coach of the year) finalist in 2021-22, but the team was swept in the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Brunette replaced Joel Quenneville in October 2021 after he resigned due to his association with the Chicago Blackhawks' sexual assault scandal involving Kyle Beech that occurred during his tenure with the team. In 75 games, the Panthers posted a 51-18-6 record under Brunette’s watch.
Brunette was widely considered a lock to retain his job, as the Panthers surged through the NHL’s most competitive division, while becoming the first team this century to average greater than four goals per game. It was first reported by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun that Brunette may remain with the organization in another role.
Maurice recently served as the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets before resigning in December 2021, telling reporters that the team needed a new voice. With 775 career wins to his name, Maurice has the pedigree and experience that the Panthers were likely looking for as a more long-term Quenneville replacement.
It's certainly a surprising move from the Panthers, who appeared to have turned the corner with a forward-thinking head coach, and a mix of veterans and emerging stars alike, poised to rebound from their first crushing playoff defeat. If Brunette was replaced because they were swept by the Lightning, it would be a cold decision in a business that can often feel bleak and unnerving, especially for coaches.
Maurice will takeover a talented group with most of their key pieces locked in for at least the next couple seasons.
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