Peter DeBoer took the Kitchener Rangers to the Memorial Cup final this season. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
We knew he was going somewhere, but after a raft of talk that had Peter DeBoer heading to Ottawa, the now ex-Kitchener Rangers coach is heading to Florida.
DeBoer made his living in the Ontario League, crafting powerhouses with Kitchener and graduating NHLers such as Mike Richards, Derek Roy and David Clarkson en route to the 2003 Memorial Cup, plus future NHLers Mikkel Boedker, Nick Spaling and Nazem Kadri this season.
In Florida, he will be charged with squeezing more points out of a lineup rumored to be jettisoning its captain and leading scorer, Olli Jokinen. The next brightest offensive stars are Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton, neither of whom has lived up to their potential so far.
Oddly enough, former Panthers coach and now-GM Jacques Martin has always been known for his defensive acumen, so perhaps he realized his own deficiencies in his new coaching hire.
DeBoer is known for discipline and if there’s one thing the Cats could use, it’s someone to get after them.
The Panthers annually crash out of the gate only to ratchet up their play later in the season when a playoff spot is already out of the question.
With prospects such as Shawn Matthias and Michael Frolik getting closer to regular NHL duty, DeBoer will at least have some talent to hone, but breaking the Cats’ playoff drought is no sure thing, despite the new coach’s pedigree.