June 8, 2011

Fischler Report: Dineen good choice for new-look Panthers

by Stan Fischler

Kevin Dineen during his playing days with the Hartford Whalers (photo: Getty)

Our man in Sunrise, Fla., Alan Greenberg, offers the following on the Panthers’ coaching change:

When general manager Dale Tallon introduced new coach Kevin Dineen, he put emphasis on Dineen’s 19 NHL seasons, most of them with the Hartford Whalers. Tallon noted that Kevin scored 355 goals and totaled 2,229 penalty minutes.

“He got his nose dirty to score goals,” Tallon asserted. “Our players are going to love playing for Kevin.”

As the team’s 11th coach and eighth in their 10-year playoff drought, the 47-year-old Dineen has his work cut out as a rookie NHL coach. He spent the past six seasons as coach of the AHL’s Portland Pirates, recording a .616 win percentage, best in that club’s history.

Plus, he has a track record of developing youngsters such as Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner, just to name a few.

Ironically, the Dineen press conference coincided with the Miami Heat’s run to the NBA Finals, a fact not lost on the new coach. He spoke about bringing the same buzz to the Cats.

“If you’re surrounded by good people,” Dineen explained, “then good things will follow.”

The likeable Dineen also cited his family ties to hockey, his AHL experience and his belief that “every day at the rink is an educational day, whether game day or practice. We’re there to get better.”

Then, a pause: “Work is not always fun.”

Coaching a team sprinkled with uncertainties, Dineen will have an interesting first season. The Panthers were nearly disassembled at the trade deadline.

However, on the positive side, Tallon had seven high draft picks in 2010 and will have seven more in the first three rounds this year, including third overall. With an incomplete roster and more than $40 million in Cap space, the Panthers’ new coach will have a team with a new look.

And that’s as much an understatement as saying Sunrise is warmer than Portland!

Observations

* Colin Campbell served the NHL too long. He knew it and his bosses sensed it due to vox populi. Right or wrong, the criticism mounted in and out of the media.

Whether the verbal rips were fair or not, they got to Colie and once every so often he fought back – as he did when he was a player on the ice. As his predecessor Brian Burke (Providence, R.I.) knew all along, being NHL warden is a thankless task.

Campbell did his job with devotion, dedication and deliberation. He made mistakes but, then again, to err is human; to forgive divine. So, we say good-bye to a good guy

Gossip

* The Red Wings were named the league’s “Best Franchise” by The Hockey News. That Detroit has managed to stay on top of the league through difficult economic times in the Motor City is a testament to how well the organization is run.

“Last season,” says THN’s Ken Campbell, “we decided not to run anything on the Red Wings simply because we didn’t want to continuously pat them on the back. But the numbers don’t lie.”

* We note that slow-to-recover Sidney Crosby is talking up the idea of stricter rules to combat ruthless head shots. What we haven’t noticed is any reference to the serial head-shot artist, teammate Matt Cooke.

When that happens, we’ll take Sid The Kid a bit more seriously.

* Isles GM Garth Snow (Wrentam, Mass.) must keep an eye on the autumn whereabouts of his outstanding scoring prospect, Kirill Kabanov. Just last month, Double K starred for the Lewiston Maineiacs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Our ardent Isles-watcher, James Ryan, offers this: “The Maineiacs folded because the “Q” couldn’t ready the franchise for next season. The NHL would have been a rush job at this point for Kabanov.”

Kirill was selected by the Montreal Junior in the Q’s Dispersal Draft on June 3.

* For the 36th consecutive season, a former NCAA college player is assured of having his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. Thirteen former collegiate players have appeared for the Bruins and Canucks; notables among them are Tim Thomas (Vermont), Ryan Kesler (Ohio State), Keith Ballard (Minnesota) and Kevin Bieksa (Bowling Green).

But the overall impact of college players has been felt on every team — a total of 112 playoff goals have been scored by former college skaters.

Stan Fischler can be reached at FischerReport@aol.com.