Paul Maurice is the new coach of the Florida Panthers, agreeing on a deal Wednesday to take over a club coming off a season where it had the best record in the NHL and rewrote the franchise’s record book.
The 55-year-old Maurice will be introduced Thursday morning, the Panthers said.
Maurice will replace Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette, who could remain with the organization if he chooses to do so.
TSN first reported that the Panthers and Maurice were finalizing an agreement.
Panthers general manager Bill Zito, in a statement released through the team, said Maurice’s hiring came after “an in-depth examination of all aspects of our team.”
The Panthers will become the fourth franchise that Maurice coaches. He started in Hartford in 1995, two seasons before that franchise relocated to Carolina. He coached Toronto for two seasons before returning to Carolina, then spent nearly nine years as coach in Winnipeg before stepping down there in December.
“I’ve pushed as long and as hard as I can here. I love these guys. They need a new voice, and I know that,” Maurice said when he left Winnipeg.
Now six months removed from that decision, Maurice is also getting a new start with a team that believes it is a Stanley Cup contender.
WATCH | Maurice on his decision to resign:
Florida won the Presidents’ Trophy this season and reached the second round of the playoffs, winning a postseason series for the first time since 1996. Brunette was a coach of the year finalist in his first head-coaching stint at the NHL level, finishing as runner-up to Calgary’s Darryl Sutter for the Jack Adams Award.
That wasn’t enough to get him the job long-term, nor was support from Panthers players, including captain Aleksander Barkov among others.
Florida, over the last three combined seasons, ranks second in the NHL in wins (130) and standings-points-per-game (1.35) — behind only Colorado on both of those lists. The Avalanche have 137 wins and average 1.41 standings points per game over that span.
The Panthers also set team records this season in numerous categories, including wins (58) and goals (340). Jonathan Huberdeau became the first Panthers player with a 100-point season, the team went 34-7-0 at home, started the year with eight consecutive wins and added a 13-game winning streak later in the season.
Florida wound up getting swept by Tampa Bay in the second round, and a month later, Maurice has now been brought on-board to see where he can take the Panthers next season and beyond.