You knew it was only a matter of time before Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon took measures to right his listing hockey team. This morning, he did.
After suffering a seventh consecutive loss Thursday night in Boston, and just days after saying that his coach's gig was safe, Tallon fired Kevin Dineen along with assistants Gord Murphy and Craig Ramsay Friday. Peter Horacheck was named as Dineen's replacement on an interim basis.
“After 16 games it was clear that our team needed a change in philosophy and direction,” Tallon said in a press release. “We have not met the expectations that we set forth at training camp and it is my responsibility to make the necessary changes to ensure that our club performs at its maximum potential. We thank Kevin, Gord and Craig for their hard work and dedication to our organization and the professionalism that they displayed throughout their tenure.”
Horacheck was serving as head coach of Florida's top farm team in San Antonio. "He's a no-nonsense guy, a good communicator," Tallon said. "We'll give him a chance to show his wares."
The team also announced that former Panthers Brian Skrudland and John Madden will join the Horachek's staff as assistant coaches.
“Peter is a bright hockey mind who brings to our club a wealth of coaching knowledge,” said Tallon. “He is a focused, determined and demanding coach who has experienced great success at all levels of competition. Both Brian and John are proven winners who won multiple Stanley Cups and are individuals that our players know very well. With these additions, we are confident that we have a staff that will work tirelessly to bring continued success to our organization.”
Horachek was informed of the change last night in order to give him time to get from San Antonio to Ottawa for tomorrow afternoon's game against the Senators. Dineen wasn't informed until this morning that he was being let go.
"He was unhappy and I don't blame him," Tallon said of Dineen's reaction to the news. "He's a fiery guy, a very emotional guy. A hard-working, classy guy. I didn't expect anything less from him."
Tallon intimated that while this was a significant move, it's not the only one he plans on making.
"Our better players have to start playing better or we will get better players," he said. "I've been on the phone constantly, and we'll make changes as we go. We want people that want to be Panthers, and if they don't want to be, we'll accommodate them.
"We're trying extremely hard every day [to improve the team]. We've had numerous calls with numerous teams. Hopefully something will hit in near future."
Tallon said he'll address the team later this morning to discuss his concerns. He says there's an obvious leadership void, but he does not plan on stripping the captaincy from Ed Jovanovski, who's been limited by a hip injury to six games since the start of the 2012-13 season. "Jovo hopefully will be back in the next week or 10 days," Tallon said. "We miss him, we miss his leadership. Hopefully he can get back sooner than later and help some of our young guys be better leaders as well."