With news on Wednesday morning that the Florida Panthers are bringing in longtime NHL head coach Paul Maurice to be their permanent guy behind the bench, there are questions about how much longer interim coach Andrew Brunette will remain with the organization.
Brunette, who is a finalist for the Jack Adams Award after guiding the Panthers to the President’s Trophy after replacing Joel Quenneville in late October, is said to be understandably unhappy with being replaced and may opt to leave the Panthers despite having one year remaining on his contract.
Brunette, who will turn 49 in late August, finished his playing career with the Blackhawks in 2012. He appeared in 1,110 regular-season games in the NHL and had a very good career. In 2015-16 he joined the NHL coaching ranks as an assistant in Minnesota and then spent two years in Florida before taking over the head coaching job left vacant when Quenneville resigned.
What Brunette doesn’t have is a long track record of coaching at various levels. He’s never been a head coach with a junior or college team or at the AHL level.
What he does have, however, is one very successful season in the NHL. While his ascension to the head coaching role wasn’t planned and the timing wasn’t ideal, he did a terrific job; that’s why he’s a finalist for the league’s coach of the year award.
But the roster Brunette won with in Florida was full of Ferraris. The Blackhawks roster next year — which will likely be missing at least Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik, and probably Alex DeBrincat — won’t have the horses the Panthers did; they’ll be… Ford Tauruses.
Should the Blackhawks call Brunette if/when he leaves the Panthers? Sure. He showed that he could coach at the NHL level this past season. And he would be an interesting interview. But he may have other/better opportunities in the league quickly.