After spending six seasons as head coach of the Portland Pirates, Kevin Dineen is moving up to the National Hockey League.
According to reports from a number of media outlets Tuesday, Dineen will be named the 11th head coach of the Florida Panthers today during a 3 p.m. news conference at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.
“I knew it was only a matter of time before somebody in the NHL figured out Kevin should be coaching in the NHL,” said Brian Petrovek, CEO/managing owner of the Portland Pirates.
Petrovek wasn’t surprised about the impending announcement.
“I knew Kevin had been talking to the Panthers, but I didn’t know the talks had progressed to this point,” he said.
Petrovek said Dineen’s advancement to a head coaching job in the NHL was well deserved.
“His body of work speaks for itself,” he said.
In six seasons as head coach, the Pirates compiled a record of 266-155-0-59 for a winning percentage of .616, a team record. The Pirates qualified for the playoffs in five of his six seasons.
Dineen, 47, was not available for comment Tuesday.
During a telephone interview last Friday night while his family traveled to upstate New York to visit his father, long-time AHL and NHL coach Bill Dineen, Kevin Dineen declined to comment about the Florida job.
“I have absolutely no comment until the process is completed,” he said.
“I’m still under contract to the Buffalo Sabres and that is what I’m going to focus upon.”
The Sabres, the Pirates’ NHL parent for the past three seasons, also would not comment about Dineen’s apparent new job.
“As a matter of policy, (the Sabres) normally don’t comment until after this kind of announcement,” said Mike Gilbert, director of public relations for the Sabres.
Portland Pirates assistant coach Eric Weinrich also declined to comment.
Dineen broke into the NHL as a player with the Hartford Whalers.
During an 18-year career, he also played for the Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators and Columbus Bluejackets.
In 2006, his first season as head coach, Dineen was named the AHL’s outstanding coach after leading the Pirates to the Eastern Conference finals.
Dineen will replace Pete DeBoer, who was fired the day after Florida’s 1-0 win over Washington in the 2010-11 season finale. DeBoe spent three seasons as coach of the Panthers.
Petrovek said it is premature to speculate on who will replace Dineen as coach of the Pirates.
“This day belongs to him,” Petrovek said.
“I’m sure we’ll learn in the next few days who the new coach of the Pirates will be.”
Weinrich, who grew up in Gardiner and played three seasons at the University of Maine, has one year left on his contract with the Sabres.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: [email protected]