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Cats Slapshot: New Coaching Hire Was Needed After Disappointing Playoff Exit

Paul Maurice comes to South Florida after spending 24 seasons as a head coach for several other NHL franchises

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Last Thursday, the Florida Panthers announced the hiring of the 18th head coach in franchise history. It was a move made since they decided to move on from the 17th coach in franchise history, which left some scratching their heads.

Paul Maurice comes to South Florida after spending 24 seasons as a head coach for several other NHL franchises. There is no doubt he has the resume, having been the youngest coach to win 1,000 games and being to the conference finals three times - making it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2002 with Carolina.

At the same time, he is replacing an interim coach in Andrew Burnette who just did a few things last season: helped navigate the rockiness after the firing of Joel Quenneville seven games in and leading the Panthers to the President's Trophy with the NHL's best record last season.

One has to ask this question: how do you not give the full time spot to a man that won 51 of the 75 regular season games he coach last season and led Florida to its first playoff series victory in over a quarter century.

There are two answers to that question. First, every single time Burnette would be talked about for the rest of time it would be tied to how he got the interim job. With that would come the constant bringing up of what got Coach Q canned and, quite frankly, Florida seemed ready to move on.

Second, and more importantly, the way the Panthers were swept out of the second round of the playoffs was enough to show the way they played in the regular season won't work in the postseason. Yes, it was against a Tampa Bay team that won the conference but it also showed the need for a change.

It's not uncommon in hockey for a coach to move on or be fired even after a successful season. Heck, both Mike Keenan and Barry Trotz were let go after winning the Stanley Cup in 1994 and 2018 respectively.

If Florida wins its series against the Lightning last month (or heck, wins at least one game in the series), does Burnette get to keep his job? As much as you'd like to hope so, it was time for everyone to start fresh.

With all that being said, Burnette is going to find another job quickly with his resume last season in Sunrise. Whether it's a head coaching job or as a top assistant, it won't be much longer he will be unemployed.

As for Maurice, all he has to do next season is make the Panthers just as good as a team who had the best record in the sport. No, that's not a pressure situation at all.

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