Read Scott Gray’s Commentary on this story.

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) _ On the day he was introduced as the Florida
Panthers’ new head coach, Kevin Dineen couldn’t help but talk about
basketball. Especially about the Miami Heat.

“I happened to be in town last night and I was able to feel
that buzz that’s around the Heat right now,” he said. “That’s
what I look forward to for the Panthers.”

Dineen was formally introduced Wednesday as the franchise’s 11th
head coach. He replaces Pete DeBoer, who was fired on April 10, a
day after completing his third season behind the Florida bench.

Like DeBoer, this will be Dineen’s first NHL job as head coach.

“I like to think outside the box and take risks … this is not
a risk,” said general manager Dale Tallon. “I’m really charged up
that Kevin has accepted the challenge to come here and help us win
a Stanley Cup.”

Dineen spent the past six seasons as head coach of the Portland
Pirates of the AHL. He compiled a mark of 266-155-59 and led the
Pirates to the playoffs in five of the six seasons. He had a
winning percentage of .616, the best in that club’s history.

As a player, he scored 355 goals in parts of 19 seasons with the
Hartford/Carolina franchise, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Columbus.

He’s from a family with a long hockey bloodline.

His father, Bill, played and coached in the NHL and his brothers
Gord and Peter also were NHL players. Another brother, Shawn, is a
scout for the Nashville Predators.

Dineen takes over a team coming off a 72-point season and a last
place finish in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers also have
missed the playoffs a league-record 10 consecutive seasons.

Tallon feels confident he’s picked the right coach to turn
things around.

“We talked to a lot of people about our opening and the minute
I met Kevin, I knew he was the guy,” he said. “You look into his
eyes, you can see the passion, you can see the caring, compassion,
integrity, class, dignity, all those things that we want our
players to be like.

“This is the right man for the job. I’m excited about our
future now.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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