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Dineen Looking To Stay The Course

Monday, 08.27.2012 / 1:30 PM ET / Features
By Tal Pinchevsky  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Dineen Looking To Stay The Course
After leading the Florida Panthers to their first playoff appearance since 2000, coach Kevin Dineen doesn\'t plan on taking a step back in 2012-13.
Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen draws up a play for forwards Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss during a game at the BankAtlantic Center (Getty Images).

Kevin Dineen's first season as an NHL coach started with a lot more questions than answers. It ended with his Florida Panthers winning the Southeast Division and their first postseason appearance in a decade.

Dineen doesn't plan on taking a step back in 2012-13.

When the longtime NHL player was named Florida's coach last summer, Dineen inherited a Panthers' team that had been remade by general manager Dale Tallon. In acquiring 10 new players over the summer, Tallon turned over half the roster of a franchise that had gone an NHL-record 10 straight seasons without making the playoffs.

"In all honesty, we had a lot of guys that may have been second- or third-tier players on other hockey teams, but they came in and received a more prominent role with us and really relished it," Dineen told NHL.com. "We had talked in the summer about maybe going away for a team-building exercise. Instead of doing that, we changed our gears. We had so many new players coming in we wanted to make sure everybody got acclimated to South Florida. Staying right there was a good decision."

As it turned out, Dineen was remarkably qualified when it came to making all these disparate pieces work well together. After all, he managed a 100-percent roster overhaul as coach of the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates, who in 2008 switched from being the Anaheim Ducks' top minor-league affiliate to the Buffalo Sabres' AHL farm team. Dineen stayed on as Portland's coach, effectively trading Anaheim's entire minor-league roster for Buffalo's.

With far fewer question marks to deal with entering his second season in South Florida, Dineen leads a roster that is mostly intact from the previous season. The team's only real changes this summer were losing defenseman Jason Garrison in free agency and signing defenseman Filip Kuba and forwards Peter Mueller and George Parros. Dineen plans on enjoying that continuity, which means he won't be messing with success.

"I think right now it's going to be a much easier start for us. Our goals are not different," Dineen said. "I want to have a good, healthy training camp and move forward from there."

For the time being, that means relying on a veteran-heavy squad that might not include too many rookies this coming season. It's an interesting strategy considering the wealth of top prospects currently in the Panthers' system, including Jonathan Huberdeau, the third player chosen in the 2011 NHL Draft.

"We've got a number of real quality prospects. Historically, I've been in organizations with Anaheim and Buffalo where the road to the NHL goes through the American League. I don't think that's an unhealthy thing," Dineen said. "I think players go down there and learn how to be professionals and how to grow as players and people."

After a massive roster overhaul last season led to Florida's first playoff appearance in a decade, Dineen managed to turn a rebuilt roster into the core of a winning team. Considering that successful transformation, one can hardly blame him for sticking with what works.

Author: Tal Pinchevsky | NHL.com Staff Writer

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
 
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