Per Frank Seravalli, the Florida Panthers have been actively interviewing a number of coaches including Pete DeBoer, Travis Green, Rick Tocchet, Paul Maurice, and two-time Jack Adams Award winner Barry Trotz.
This is all while 2022 Jack Adams runner-up Andrew Brunette awaits a decision from the Panthers on his future.
As for former Florida coach Joel Quenneville, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told ESPN he is unsure he will allow him to come back right now.
“I don’t know. That’s something I’ll have to address with him directly,” Bettman told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on Friday’s episode of The Point.
Per ESPN, Bettman said Quenneville has expressed a general desire to return to the NHL, though not for a specific job opening.
“He has indicated that he would, at the appropriate time, like to be part of the game again,” Bettman said. “I don’t think this is the time. But we’ll see what happens in the future.”
Trotz has been the most highly sought-after coach on the market after the New York Islanders let him go in favor of a “new voice” and promoted assistant coach Lane Lambert.
He led the Islanders to the Eastern Conference finals in consecutive years from 2020-21 before Covid, a long road trip to open the season and a slew of injuries derailed New York’s 2021-22 season.
Trotz also won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018 and was instrumental in helping Alex Ovechkin become a more well-rounded player.
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Trotz hails from Manitoba and was offered free beer for life to return to his home province to coach the Winnipeg Jets. He also turned down a reported $7 million offer from the Philadelphia Flyers as it appears he is being very selective in his next destination.
Florida’s decision could have been one of the factors he was waiting on.
Of course, Trotz would have a crucial impact on the Panthers.
He developed both the Islanders and the Capitals into a more complete defensive team, a trait the Panthers were missing during the 2022 Playoffs (although the offense was a bigger problem against the Lightning).
Trotz’s development of Brock Nelson into both a 30-goal scorer and reliable two-way forward could also bode well for Anton Lundell.
Another plus for the Panthers could be his good pal Mitch Korn.
Korn has followed Trotz to every destination he has landed at since the two started with the expansion Nashville Predators and the veteran goaltending coach has a lot of success stories including Dominik Hasek, Tomas Vokoun, Pekka Rinne, Braden Holtby and Ilya Sorokin.
Spencer Knight could join that list.
Per Newsday’s Andrew Gross, Korn is mulling his future — which includes retirement — but following Trotz to his next NHL destination is not out of the question.
This also could play a role in why the Panthers have yet to make a decision on the future of longtime goaltending coach Robb Tallas and his expiring contract.
Tallas started with the Panthers back in DeBoer’s time behind the Florida bench.
DeBoer’s first NHL coaching job came with the Panthers in 2008 as Florida made him the 10th coach in franchise history after a very successful run with the OHL Kitchener Rangers.
In his first season with the Panthers, he nearly ended the team’s long postseason drought but Florida missed the playoffs by a point.
Although the Panthers tied Montreal in points and overall wins, the Canadiens won the tiebreaker by winning three of four against Florida that season.
A year later, the tiebreaker rule was changed as Montreal had seven shooout wins in 2008-09 while Florida had three; shootout wins counted in their total victories which led to the second tiebreaker (head-to-head) being initiated.
The new rule stated “the tiebreaker among teams with the same total of points in the standings will go to the club with the most regulation and overtime wins — no longer including shootout wins in the decision.”
Things went downhill from there, although few blamed DeBoer; the cost-conscious Panthers had a roller-coaster 2009-10 season.
In what would be DeBoer’s last one in Sunrise, new GM Dale Tallon jettisoned much of the roster at the trade deadline — not to mention trading Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell before it started — to build for the future.
Tallon fired DeBoer the day after the 2010-11 season ended.
“I’ve never been fired before,” DeBoer said that day. “Strange feeling.’’
DeBoer landed in New Jersey where he beat the Panthers in the first round of the 2012 playoffs and led the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final that year.
He also coached the Sharks to the Cup Final with Joe Thornton and was recently fired by the Vegas Golden Knights after they went to the west final last season.
Panthers general manager Bill Zito is still undergoing the interview process and Brunette’s return is definitely not out of the question.
It seems like Trotz is the big fish he is going after.