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NHL’s Florida Panthers Fire Their Head Coach Doug MacLean After 7-12-4 Start; Team Names

November 24, 1997

NHL’s Florida Panthers Fire Their Head Coach Doug MacLean After 7-12-4 Start; Team Names General Manager Bryan Murray To Replace HimBy KAREN TESTA

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Doug MacLean was fired as coach of the struggling Florida Panthers today, two seasons after leading them to the Stanley Cup finals.

He will be replaced by general manager Bryan Murray, who will do double duty through the end of the season. Murray’s first game behind the Florida bench will be at home Wednesday night against Boston.

The Panthers are 7-12-4, the second worst record in the Eastern Conference, and coming off a 5-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday night.

``A good person went down today, that’s what I told the players,″ team president William Torrey said. ``Obviously the performance of our team in the early part of this season is a huge disappointment.″

Torrey told MacLean of the decision Monday and said the coach took the news well.

Murray coached Washington and Detroit Red Wings before becoming a general manager. He said he would focus his attention on building discipline and reducing penalties.

``I don’t know that I have the remedy,″ Murray said. ``To say much more than that is taking a shot at Doug, and that’s not my intention at all.″

After Florida made it to the finals but lost to the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, MacLean signed a new three-year contract that September to stay with the Panthers through the 1998-99 season.

But last season, the Panthers were beset by injuries and poor scoring and needed to rally to make the playoffs. The New York Rangers eliminated Florida in five games in the opening round.

Earlier this month, MacLean was suspended for two games without pay and fined $5,000 after a confrontation with NHL officials at the end of overtime in a Nov. 2 game against Buffalo.

MacLean was 76-59-29 in his first two seasons with the Panthers. He replaced Roger Nielson, the franchise’s first coach, in July 1995. It was his first head coaching job in the NHL.

MacLean was an assistant coach under Murray in Detroit during the 1990-91 season. He was later hired as an assistant coach and went on to become assistant general manager. MacLean also worked under Murray with the Capitals from 1988 to 1990.

His NHL career began in 1986-87, when he was hired by the St. Louis Blues as an assistant coach.

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