Panthers coach Peter DeBoer fired after 3 years

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Peter DeBoer took over as coach of the Florida Panthers three years ago with a sparkling resume from junior hockey, fully expecting that he could bring the downtrodden franchise back to the playoffs.

He was wrong.

The Panthers fired DeBoer on Sunday, one day after the team finished its 10th straight season without a playoff appearance. Florida's 72 points were worst in the Eastern Conference and the third-fewest in the 30-team NHL.

"These decisions are always tough to make, but we felt strongly that it was the right time to make a change," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said.

DeBoer came to the Panthers in 2008 after 13 seasons of leading teams in the Ontario Hockey League, a top junior level where his clubs won two-thirds of their games. And there was promise in his first season with Florida, when the team put up 93 points, its highest total in nearly a decade.

The last two seasons have gone the other way. Florida finished with 77 points last season and five fewer in 2010-11, finishing last in the Southeast Division both times and adding to the team's historic slump: The Panthers haven't prevailed in a playoff series since 1996 and haven't played a postseason game since 2000.

"We need to go in a new direction with a fresh approach and philosophy as it relates to our head coaching position," Tallon said in a statement released by the team. "The entire Panthers organization would like to thank Peter for his hard work and service to this franchise and wish him all the best in the future."

The Panthers declined to comment further Sunday. Tallon and players are scheduled to be available after exit meetings on Monday.