Amid a vastly disappointing year, the Florida Panthers’ front office has officially announced that interim head coach Tom Rowe will be dismissed following the season finale next Sunday.
Rowe, former coach and General Manager of the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates, was hired as the Panthers head coach after the controversial firing of former head coach Gerard Gallant in November.
Coaching the team for a total of 61 games, Rowe amassed a paltry 21 wins as the Panthers continuously plummeted down the standings this year. Ambitions were high this year, following a record-setting 103 point, division-winning season just one year ago. Now, Florida will likely finish the year with less than 80 points and seventh in their division.
Fans outraged with Rowe’s performance have been vocal, as “Rowe must go” chants are heard throughout home games.
Frustration seemingly piqued as a plane with a banner towing the message “Rowe must go! Call him a cab!” flew the area surrounding the BB&T center in the hour before the Panthers squared off against the Montreal Canadiens on April 3rd.
Rowe was quoted as saying, “I knew coming here, to be part of it, if things didn’t go well I would be taking the brunt of it. But that’s fine. I can handle that. Fans pay great money to see us play and it’s their prerogative to speak their mind. I have no problem with that.”
Very few positives have come from Rowe’s decision making this past year, such as the playing of 20-year old Aaron Ekblad following his third concussion in two years – which was added onto, as Ekblad was injured in his first game back.
Adam Gretz of NBCSports.com reports, “After missing a few games, he was cleared to play by the team’s medical staff and returned to the lineup on Tuesday, 10 days after the injury, and played 18 minutes in a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Based on what happened in the aftermath of that game, it seems pretty obvious he may not have been completely ready to return to the ice.”
At this point in time, it is unknown who the leading candidates are for the head coaching vacancy that will be present, but Rowe is expecting to retain a position within the team’s front office.