The Florida Panthers announced Tuesday that they have fired interim head coach Peter Horachek. Horachek replaced head coach Kevin Dineen on Nov.8 and led the Panthers to a 26-34-6 record over the final 66 games of the season as Florida missed the postseason for the 12th time in 13 seasons.
Horachek’s dismissal means that the Capitals are now one of three NHL teams with a head coaching vacancy along with the Panthers and Nashville Predators.
“We feel we probably need someone with more NHL coaching experience heading down the road,” Tallon said.
“The past few coaches we've had have had no NHL coaching experience and as a group we needed to find someone with more coaching experience. We're going to identify the guys who are available and find the guy who has the most experience probably.”
Don’t be surprised to hear the names Peter Laviolette and Barry Trotz – two names that have been linked to the Capitals’ head coaching vacancy this week- bandied about as the Panthers look to hire a 13th head coach in the franchise’s 21-year history.
“Barry Trotz is one hell of a coach,” Tallon told reporters Tuesday in South Florida.
Trotz went 557-479-60-100 in 15 seasons with Nashville, and led the Predators to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven of eight years from 2004-2012. Trotz could be seen as an ideal fit for Florida given his prior success in a non-traditional hockey market with young teams built from the goal line out.
While the Panthers are hopeful that No.1 goalie Roberto Luongo can return to his all-star form, Tallon could also use the No.1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft on projected top pick Aaron Ekblad. Ekblad was the Ontario Hockey League’s Defenseman of the Year and he is listed second among North American prospects by NHL Central Scouting in their final draft rankings.
The Panthers also have a number of high-end prospects up front with forwards Nick Bjugstad (2010, RD1, 19th overall), Jonathan Huberdeau (2011, RD1, 3rd overall) and Alexander Barkov (2013, RD1, 2nd overall) all 21 or younger.