Struggling Panthers fire Dineen, name Horachek interim coach

JAN. 13, 2012 FILE PHOTO

Lynne Sladky/AP

Kevin Dineen is out as the bench boss with the Florida Panthers after a 3-9-4 start to season.

The sun has set on Kevin Dineen and his coaching staff in Sunrise, Fla.

Florida Panthers management fired Dineen and his assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Craig Ramsay on Friday morning, promoting AHL head coach Peter Horachek as Dineen’s interim replacement and appointing John Madden and Brian Skrudland as his assistants.

Madden is a three-time Stanley Cup winner, twice with the Devils (2000 and 2003). Skrudland was the Panthers’ first captain and played 59 games for the Rangers in the 1997-98 season.

The move was unexpected because it was no secret that the ceiling was low again this season for the Panthers (3-9-4), who are rebuilding under young stars Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov.

But new owner Vinnie Viola is in town, and clearly that means change not only on the bench but behind it.

“After 16 games it was clear that our team needed a change in philosophy and direction,” GM Dale Tallon said in a statement. “We have not met the expectations that we set forth at training camp and it is my responsibility to make the necessary changes to ensure that our club performs at its maximum potential. We thank Kevin, Gord and Craig for their hard work and dedication to our organization and the professionalism that they displayed throughout their tenure.”

The Panthers actually are the Rangers’ next opponent, Sunday night at the Garden. The Blueshirts (8-8-0) not only will have the upper hand against a transitioning opponent but also a Panthers team that will be completing a back-to-back of its own following a Saturday afternoon visit to Ottawa.

Dineen compiled a 56-62-28 record in parts of three seasons behind Florida’s bench, helping the team to its first division title in 2011-12. But the Panthers finished dead last in the Eastern Conference last season (15-27-6) and currently are in seventh place in the eight-team Atlantic Division, just three points ahead of the Buffalo Sabres.

Daily News – Sports

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