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Features

Dineen Looking To Stay The Course

Monday, 08.27.2012 / 1:30 PM / 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

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 48 32 13 3 128 108 67
2 DET 50 29 12 9 149 129 67
3 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
4 NYI 49 32 16 1 158 139 65
5 PIT 49 28 13 8 145 125 64
6 WSH 49 25 14 10 144 125 60
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
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10 OTT 48 20 19 9 136 136 49
11 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
12 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 49 18 22 9 110 137 45
15 CAR 48 17 25 6 104 125 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 46 16 13 -1 29
A. Ekblad 46 7 21 6 28
J. Huberdeau 43 9 17 1 26
J. Jokinen 45 4 21 -3 25
B. Boyes 44 10 12 2 22
J. Hayes 38 13 7 1 20
S. Bergenheim 35 8 9 2 17
A. Barkov 35 5 10 -5 15
B. Campbell 46 3 11 -1 14
D. Kulikov 41 1 13 -3 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 18 11 8 .920 2.42
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .891 2.96
 
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